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God Remains with Us

Memorial of Saint Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church

First Reading: Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19

Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.

By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place
that he was to receive as an inheritance;
he went out, not knowing where he was to go.
By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country,
dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise;
for he was looking forward to the city with foundations,
whose architect and maker is God.
By faith he received power to generate,
even though he was past the normal age
Band Sarah herself was sterileB
for he thought that the one who had made the promise was trustworthy.
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.

All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac,
and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son,
of whom it was said,
Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.
He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead,
and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Responsorial Psalm: Luke 1:69-70, 71-72, 73-75

R. (see 68) Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
He has raised up for us a mighty savior,
born of the house of his servant David.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
Through his holy prophets he promised of old.
that he would save us from our sins
from the hands of all who hate us.
He promised to show mercy to our fathers
and to remember his holy covenant.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel; he has come to his people.
This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
to set us free from the bonds of our enemies,
free to worship him without fear,
holy and righteous in his sight
all the days of our life.
R. Blessed be the Lord the God of Israel; he has come to his people.

Gospel: Mark 4:35-41

On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”

NAB

You are in the middle of the storm.

Maybe it’s small, but growing and brewing disaster. Maybe it’s terrifyingly huge, overwhelming you with violent waves. Maybe it’s personal, a hurricane destroying the best-laid plans you’d built for your life. Maybe it’s communal, the gale-force winds of our tumultuous country and culture right now.

Either way, here is the only thing I know for sure. Wherever you are in the storm, God is already with you.

Today’s Gospel teaches this truth in a powerful, short story that condenses the life of faith into a single unforgettable scene. Jesus and His disciples in the boat, a violent squall that threatens their life, and a cry of terror that wakes the Lord who calms the seas. We feel the frenzy and anxiety, and then we share the calm and peace.

God has come to His people, as the Psalm reminds us. God has remained here with us.

Whatever the storm of your life—a broken relationship, a difficult job, the fear of failure, the grief of loss—God is still beside you in the small, shaking boat. God hears your cry and will not leave you alone in your despair.

So we cry out in the darkness. Waves crash at our feet, and we wonder how we will survive—as individuals, as a family, as a Church, as a country. We want to scream to God, “Do you not care that we are perishing?” But before the cry has left our lips, God is already quieting the storm and calming the sea. God speaks straight to our troubled hearts and reminds us that faith is the answer to our pleading questions. By faith we will find peace.

Jesus did not magically transport His disciples onto dry land. He climbed into the boat with them before the storm began, and He stayed with them the whole terrifying time, working wonders within the situation itself, even when it seemed darkest and desperate. He is with you, too. He is with us still.

Keep crying out to God in whatever storm is sweeping your life today, big or small. Trust that God hears you, and believe that God is working to bring peace. Be not afraid.

Laura Kelly Fanucci is a mother, writer, and theological researcher. She and her husband are raising three little boys in the suburban wilds of Minnesota. You can find out more about her here.

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