Homily July 4th, 2023

Tuesday of the 13th week in Ordinary Time – Option 1 – Mt 8:23-27

Today’s Gospel presents a brief, but important, episode in the public life of Jesus. Clearly the event must have been recounted by one of the disciples, since they were the only ones to witness it. We can consider, first, the whole scene, and, second, what lesson we can learn to apply to our lives.

Regarding the first, the Sea of Galilee, where Jesus and His disciples find themselves, is small: it is “only thirteen miles from north to south and eight miles from east to west at its widest.” However, because of the valleys and cliffs that surround it, when cold winds cut across the lake (which happens especially at night), violent storms flare up almost without warning. The fishermen on the sea know this, and it’s interesting that we are told that “Jesus got in the boat, and His disciples followed Him.” Christ, with His divine knowledge, would’ve known that a storm was coming, and yet He went ahead anyways. In other words, He knew perfectly well what was going to happen, and how He was going to solve the problem. The disciples didn’t know that, but they should have known Jesus.

When the storm comes upon them, it is both sudden and extremely violent; the other Gospels tell us that the boat is practically covered by the waves. In their moment of terror the disciples awoke him, and the storm became a calm. The parallel texts emphasize the suddenness of the calm; everything settled down right away. If you are familiar with the water and the way that storms arise, you know that, even after the worst of the storm passes, it still takes time for the water to settle down. However, we see Christ’s power in that, as soon as He commands, suddenly everything becomes peaceful.

What does this mean for our lives? We should remember that, no matter what, Christ knows everything that is going on, and, if we trust in Him, and in His presence, then we will have peace. “Wherever Jesus is the storms of life become a calm. It means that in the presence of Jesus the most terrible of tempests turns to peace.

When the cold, bleak wind of sorrow blows, there is calm and comfort in the presence of Jesus Christ. When the hot blast of passion blows, there is peace and security in the presence of Jesus Christ. When the storms of doubt seek to uproot the very foundations of the faith, there is a steady safety in the presence of Jesus Christ. In every storm that shakes the human heart there is peace with Jesus Christ.

The lesson of this story is that when the storms of life shake our souls Jesus Christ is there, and in his presence the raging of the storm turns to the peace that no storm can ever take away.”[1] The foundation of this peace, however, is to be confident in Christ. Fr. Jean d’Elbee explains this when he writes, “What does Jesus lament most when He is with His Apostles? Their lack of confidence. ‘Men of little faith!’ This is the main reproach He makes to them. He does not say to them, ‘Men of no character, men without energy, without discipline. No, He says, ‘Men of little faith!’” We must trust in Christ, not in the abstract, but rather in the midst of difficulties and trials. This is what it means to really have faith: not to trust when everything is going perfectly, but rather when things are difficult.

Let us ask, through the intercession of the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Faith, for the grace of a lively faith, to really trust in Christ and in His love for us.

[1] From Barclay’s commentary, as I recall.



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