SUNDAY’S READINGS | June 20, 2021

Track 1: 1 Sam. 17: [1a, 4-11, 19-23], 32-49 or 1 Samuel 17:57-18:5, 10-16 • Ps. 9:9-20 or 133 • 2 Cor. 6:1-13 • Mark 4:35-41

Track 2: Job 38:1-11 • Ps. 107:1-3, 23-32 • 2 Cor. 6:1-13 • Mark 4:35-41

Keep awake! This warning about “the master’s return” at an unknown hour captures something of what it is like to read the Bible carefully. Without constant attention and care, one will likely fall for easy solutions, especially when those solutions have supporting Scriptures. Consider the following while holding in mind the terrible, heartbreaking, and soul-crushing tragedies a person may suffer. “No testing has overtaken you that is not common to everyone. God is faithful, and he will not let you be tested beyond your strength, but with the testing he will also provide the way out so that you may be able to endure it” (1 Cor. 10:13).

It is not uncommon, however, for people to suffer unbearable burdens and feel there is no way out. We may assert that Jesus is the Way, but his way includes suffering and death, blood and gasping breath, wounds and a pierced heart. Sometimes we do well to say little, resist easy answers we give primarily for our own comfort, which may add to the suffering of others. Silence, listening, companionship, practical aid, and a few tender words may be the only honest answer to human anguish.

In the world of the Bible, God is present before the storm, in the storm, and after the storm. Yes, this is perplexing.

The Bible offers hope, a conviction, a yearning for divine help amid human life as it is, both beautiful and terrible. “Some went down to the sea in ships, doing business on the mighty waters; they saw the deeds of the Lord, his wondrous works in the deep. For he commanded and raised the stormy wind, which lifted up the waves of the sea. They mounted up to heaven, they went down to the depths; their courage melted away in their calamity” (Ps. 107:23-26).

God is mysteriously the cause of the wind, the waves, and peril. God also hears the cries of human beings and comes with help. “Then they cried to the Lord in their trouble, and he brought them out from their distress; he made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Ps. 107:28-29). Again, this is a hope, a conviction, a yearning that God will not leave us without comfort and protection.

The Son of the living God rests while a storm rages. “On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, ‘Let us go across to the other side.’ And leaving the crowd behind, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. Other boats were with him. A great windstorm arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already being swamped. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him up and said to him, ‘Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?’ He woke up and rebuked the wind and said to the sea, ‘Peace! Be still!’ Then the wind ceased, and there was a dead calm” (Mark 4:35-39). “He made the storm be still, and the waves of the sea were hushed” (Ps. 107:29). That is our hope.

Do we have faith? Perhaps not. After all, sometimes the waves crash in, fill the boat, and threaten peril. Sometimes, like the Egyptians, we sink into the depths like a stone. If we have faith, we have it as a gift. As St. Augustine says in Confessions, “My faith invokes you, O Lord, which you have given to me, which you have breathed into me through the humanity of your Son, and the ministry of your preacher.”

Look It Up: Mark 4:26-27

Think About It: God is our help, but we know not how.