Our first reading for the day continues our progress through Hebrews, beginning with the authors definition of faith. The hope he speaks of is not one of wistful longing but one of certainty; in matters of faith we do not think, we know.
This chapter of Hebrews will go on to highlight several Old Testament figures who demonstrate the certainty of faith in things not seen. Our portion will skip over them to read about the greatest example of faith in the Old Testament, Abraham. We will see multiple examples of Abraham’s faith building up to the greatest test of faith in the Old Testament called in Hebrew, the Akedah, the Binding of Isaac. While many find this episode exceptionally troubling, the alert reader will note that the original account in Genesis begins with the warning: “God tested Abraham”, which should assure us that all would end well. The point for us is the mighty faith of Abraham in God’s power and goodness.
The Gospel reading from Mark follows the theme of faith, in this case lack of or more charitably, emerging.
A group of Apostles travelling with Jesus by boat across the Sea of Galilee encounter a sudden and violent storm. Because of the topography of hills and valleys around the lake, these were common occurrences. Jesus is resting in the stern of the boat and, presumably, taking refuge from the crowds following Him.
Jesus is not awakened by the squall, but by the disciples fearful of perishing in the storm. They do not yet know the power of the one with whom they travel. After rebuking the wind and the sea into silence, Jesus then chastises His companions, not for their fear, but for their lack of faith in what He has been showing them. They are awed as they begin to realize the one they accompany can command nature itself.
We too are meant to understand that to have faith is to have confidence in that which God has promised us through His Word; that which we cannot yet see. If we truly invite Jesus into our boat, all will be well.
N.B. “the Lord…will neither slumber nor sleep” PS121:4
Today is also the Memorial of Thomas Aquinas, Priest and Doctor of the Church, 13thCentury Dominican theologian and author of many learned volumes, most notably the Summa Theologica.