1st July. Tuesday, Week 13.
Saint Oliver Plunkett, bishop and martyr.
Oliver Plunkett (1625-1681), of an Anglo-Irish family from Loughcrew, County Meath, studied at the Irish College in Rome during the height of the Penal Laws. After ordination in 1654 he taught theology in Rome for 15 years until he was nominated Archbishop of Armagh, returning to Ireland in 1670 during a lull in the persecution of Catholics. Eight years later he was the innocent victim of the so-called Popish Plot (1678), when Titus Oates and others plotted to kill Charles II of England. Despite being on the run and with a price on his head, Plunkett refused to leave his flock. He was arrested in Dublin in 1679 but imprisoned in London, where after a travesty of a trial he was hanged, drawn and quartered at Tyburn on 1 July 1681.
First Reading: Amos 3:1-8. 4:11-12
Hear this word that the Lord has spoken against you, O people of Israel,
against the whole family that I brought up out of the land of Egypt:
You only have I known of all the families of the earth;
therefore I will punish you for all your iniquities. Do two walk together unless they have made an appointment?
Does a lion roar in the forest, when it has no prey?
Does a young lion cry out from its den, if it has caught nothing?
Does a bird fall into a snare on the earth, when there is no trap for it?
Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid?
Does disaster befall a city, unless the Lord has done it?
Surely the Lord God does nothing, without revealing his secret to his servants the prophets. The lion has roared; who will not fear? The Lord God has spoken; who can but prophesy?
I overthrew some of you, as when God overthrew Sodom and Gomorrah,
and you were like a brand snatched from the fire;
yet you did not return to me, says the Lord. Therefore thus I will do to you, O Israel;
because I will do this to you, prepare to meet your God, O Israel!
Gospel: Matthew 8:23-27
And when he got into the boat, his disciples followed him. A windstorm arose on the sea, so great that the boat was being swamped by the waves; but he was asleep. And they went and woke him up, saying, “Lord, save us! We are perishing!” And he said to them, “Why are you afraid, you of little faith?” Then he got up and rebuked the winds and the sea; and there was a dead calm. They were amazed, saying, “What sort of man is this, that even the winds and the sea obey him?”
Saved from the Storm
In face of a disaster like the fierce storm on the Lake of Galilee, God saves those who trust in him and those for whom others pray. The disciples in the boat are amazed at Jesus’ power over the wind and the waves. But if people persist in cruelly sinful behaviour, unwilling to give up living off others’ inhuman working conditions, then prophets like Amos are impelled by God to cry out in the name of the poor. We might say that today’s readings present us with the stick and the carrot. Amos threatens God’s vengeance on those who will not repent, even citing the classic ruin of Sodom and Gomorrah; while Matthew reminds us of the powerful presence of Christ to help in our time of need.
Our faith in divine providence and our prayerful disposition enables us to rise above storms and disturbances and not be swept into utter panic. As we note, the storm continues, even after the disciples waken Jesus. He asks, “Where is your courage?” The storm still rages but this time they turn anew to Jesus, not in frantic fear but in humble trust and dedication. Then he addresses the winds and the sea to calm them. Whoever “wakes up” the presence of Jesus in our heart, even if in desperation, and stays with him long enough, will gain a new self-assurance from his presence, and inner peace.