09Jan 09 January. Wednesday after Epiphany

1st Reading: 1 John 4:11-18

God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God

Beloved, since God loved us so much, we also ought to love one another. No one has ever seen God; if we love one another, God lives in us, and his love is perfected in us.

By this we know that we abide in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit. And we have seen and do testify that the Father has sent his Son as the Saviour of the world. God abides in those who confess that Jesus is the Son of God, and they abide in God. So we have known and believe the love that God has for us.God is love, and those who abide in love abide in God, and God abides in them. Love has been perfected among us in this: that we may have boldness on the day of judgment, because as he is, so are we in this world. There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear; for fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not reached perfection in love.

Responsorial: Psalm 71: 1-2, 10-13

Response: Lord, every nation on earth will adore you.

O God, give your judgement to the king,
to a king’s son your justice,
that he may judge your people in justice
and your poor in right judgement. (R./)

The kings of Tarshish and the sea coasts
shall pay him tribute.
The kings of Sheba and Seba shall bring him gifts.
Before him all kings shall fall prostrate,
all nations shall serve him. (R./)

For he shall save the poor when they cry
and the needy who are helpless.
He will have pity on the weak
and save the lives of the poor. (R./)

Gospel: Mark 6:45-52

Jesus walks on the water and calms the wind

Immediately he made his disciples get into the boat and go on ahead to the other side, to Bethsaida, while he dismissed the crowd. After saying farewell to them, he went up on the mountain to pray.

When evening came, the boat was out on the sea, and he was alone on the land. When he saw that they were straining at the oars against an adverse wind, he came towards them early in the morning, walking on the sea. He intended to pass them by. But when they saw him walking on the sea, they thought it was a ghost and cried out; for they all saw him and were terrified. But immediately he spoke to them and said, “Take heart, it is I; do not be afraid.” Then he got into the boat with them and the wind ceased. And they were utterly astounded, for they did not understand about the loaves, but their hearts were hardened.

BIBLE

When the wind dies

Voyagers: Life can be viewed as journey (Pilgrim’s progress; Exodus; Odyssey), or still better as voyage (because driven by forces more powerful than ourselves, like wind and wave.) We sail upon a rippling surface of events, feeling the joy of movement, being alive and going somewhere. When things go well, we feel the contentment of those experienced sailors, the apostles on their way home across the quiet lake of Galilee.

Staying afloat: A sudden gale blows up, changing the mood utterly. Our own life-voyage has its share of storms too, anxieties, problems and pressures of various kinds. How often a sudden turn of events can rob us of inner peace. Are we on a charted course, or just drifting along without any determined direction? Many find it hard enough to stay afloat, pressurised by the bewilderingly changing times, ill-at-ease in their relationships with others, discontented and insecure in themselves. That’s exactly what the frightened apostles in the storm mean for us today: we are those sailors, tossing about in the waves.

Finding remedies: Many prescriptions are suggested, to ease the upsets of our voyage. Like different brands of medication for sea-sickness! A long quiet rest, a change of occupation, psychiatric help or counselling, a course of Yoga or Transcendental Meditation, Contemplative or Charismatic Prayer. Doubtless, every remedy has its own advantages, but what better support can be found in times of stress than an understanding friend? Today’s gospel suggests that our first and most constant recourse should be to none other than, Christ himself.

A hidden presence: God is present where we least expect him, although it is a hidden, unseen presence, not always easy to discover. It takes faith nearer than the door.” So the apostles were amazed to see Christ coming to them in the middle of the storm, for (at that stage) they were men of little faith. Elijah, that lonely refugee, faithful to his God despite cruel persecution by Jezebel, discovered the mysterious presence of God in the still, small voice of his own soul. Standing at the mouth of a cave, on the slopes of the holy mountain, he got strength and comfort from the Living God. Where God is, there is peace. But his presence is everywhere, for those who learn to discern it.

Safely to harbour: We cannot expect immunity from the hardships and problems faced by all the other voyagers through this life. Indeed, Christ himself shared fully in all of these anxieties, being tested as we are. If the Church be seen as a boat (in which there are no idle passengers, but all are needed to row!), then we have as destination the safe harbour of eternal life. With the compass of faith, and Christ himself as unseen captain of the ship, that harbour will surely be reached. In the meantime, though tossed about by circumstances, he tells us: “Courage! Do not be afraid, men of little faith!’


Through prayer to calm

The gospels often portray Jesus at prayer. Today Mark tells how, after being busy feeding the five thousand, Jesus went off into the hills to pray.But even though Jesus went off alone, his prayer did not in fact remove him from people. Indeed, it made him more responsive to the struggles of others. As he was praying in the hills, Jesus became aware of his struggling disciples, battling against the wind and worn out with rowing. So he left his prayer and came to his struggling disciples, and spoke words of great reassurance to them, “Courage! It is I! Do not be afraid.”

Mark suggests that while Jesus remained in communion with God he also stayed in communion with people in need. That is true of our own awareness too. In prayer, we open ourselves to the Lord’s presence; we become attuned to the Lord who is present to us, but as we do so we will often find ourselves thinking of others, feeling with and for others. This is not surprising. The Lord whom we approach in prayer is full of love for others; as we draw near to him in prayer, we will be caught up into his concern for others It is perhaps not surprising that much of our prayer tends to be intercessory prayer, prayer for others. Authentic prayer will deepen not only our communion with the Lord, but our communion with others as well, especially with those who, like the disciples in the gospel, are struggling and battling the storms of life.



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