Tuesday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The response to the Psalm today says “O Lord, your mercy is before my eyes.” In both of today’s readings, we are able to see God’s mercy in action, and see individuals who are not able to place this mercy before their eyes. In the first reading, God spares Lot and his family, the only righteous people in all of Sodom, from the destruction He is about to bring down upon that town and Gomorrah. Lot’s family flees to a nearby town, and is given one instruction as they go: not to look back. Their focus should be on God’s mercy before them, rather than His destruction behind them. But Lot’s wife is unable to do so, and dies. She is so intrigued about the fate of Sodom that she cannot focus on the place that is to be her refuge from destruction.
The apostles in the gospel reading likewise find themselves in a turbulent situation as they ride out a storm at sea. Jesus is with them, but they are still afraid. By now, He has carried out numerous miracles, including the healing of many individuals. Yet the apostles take little comfort in His presence. Instead, they focus more on the presence of the storm. Like Lot’s wife, they give more attention to the destruction around them than to the saving presence of God, sitting right next to them in Jesus.
Very often, we find ourselves in this situation. We look around the world and see destruction in various forms: violence, unjust actions or laws, and sins of all other sorts. In our own lives, we see difficulties, either faced by those we love or ourselves. It is very easy to “play the martyr” and focus on the defeat and pain. But even the real martyrs knew that God was with them in the darkness. If their focus had not been on God and His mercy, it is doubtful they could have remained faithful to the end. If we focus on the destruction long enough, we will be enveloped by it. Our focus must always be on the mercy of God set before us, lest we end up like Lot’s wife.