Fourth Sunday after Epiphany
The Gospel is taken from the same chapter of St. Matthew as that for the Third Sunday after Epiphany and gives an account of a further miracle. Our Lord shows His divinity by commanding the angry sea and raging wind,powerful and intractable forces in creation. The wonderful character of the miracle is brought out clearly by the sacred writer in the contrast which he draws, between the fierce turmoil of the waves and the "great calm" that followed (Gospel). Since it is in the Church that the kingship of Christ is most fully carried out, the Fathers saw in the howling wind of the storm a type of the devils whose pride stirs up persecutions against God's people, and in the troubled sea the passions and malice of men, the great source of disobedience to authority and fraternal strife.
On the other hand, in the Church the great law of charity prevails, for while in the first three commandments the duty of loving God is laid upon us, by the remaining seven, as a natural result, we are bound to the love of our neighbour (Epistle). Indeed God Himself is in our neighbour since in a sense, we each form a fresh human nature for our Blessed Lord. Herein is the whole mystery of the Epiphany. Our Lord manifests Himself as the Son of God, and all those who acknowledge Him as such, and accept Him as their Leader and Head, become members of His mystical body. Being one in Christ, all Christians should love one another.
"This ship," says St. Augustine, "was a type of the Church," which through the centuries shows forth the divinity of our Lord. To His all powerful protection indeed, she owes the fact, that in spite of her frailty (Collect, Secret) she has not been swallowed up by the dangers which threaten her (Collect). St. Chrysostom remarks, "Our Lord seems to sleep that He may oblige us to have recourse to Him, nor does He ever fail to save those who call upon Him."
Adorate Deum omnes Angeli ejus: audivit et laetata est Sion: et exsultaverunt filiae Judae. * Dominus regnavit; exsultet terra, laetentur insulae multae.
Adore God, all ye his Angels: Sion heard and was glad, and the daughters of Juda rejoiced. * The Lord hath reigned let the earth rejoice, let many islands be glad.
(Psalm 96:7-8,1 from the Introit of Mass)
Deus, qui nos in tantis periculis constitutos, pro humana scis fragilitate non posse subsistere: da nobis salutem mentis et corporis ut ea quae pro peccatis nostris patimur, te adjuvante, vincamus.
O God, who knowest that through human frailty, we are not able to subsist amidst such great dangers, grant us health of soul and body, that whatsoever things we suffer because of our sins, we may overcome them by thine assistance.
O God, who, by the fruitful Virginity of the Blessed Mary, hast given to mankind the rewards of eternal salvation, grant, we beseech thee, that we may experience Her intercession, by whom we received the Author of life, our Lord Jesus Christ, thy Son.
(Commemoration of the Blessed Virgin Mary)
Mercifully hear, we beseech thee, O Lord, the prayers of thy Church, that all oppositions and errors being removed, she may serve thee with a secure and undisturbed devotion.
(Against the persecutors of the Church)
Continuation of the holy Gospel according to Matthew.
At that time, when Jesus entered into the boat his disciples followed him; and behold a great tempest arose in the sea, so that the boat was covered with waves; but he was asleep. And his disciples came to him, and awakened him, saying: Lord, save us, we perish. And Jesus saith to them: Why are ye fearful, O ye of little faith? Then rising up, he commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a great calm. But the men wondered, saying: What manner of man is this, for the winds and the sea obey him?
(St Matthew 8:23-27)