On that day, when evening had come, Jesus said to them, “Let us go across to the other side.” And leaving the crowd, they took him with them in the boat, just as he was. And other boats were with him. And a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling. But he was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care if we perish?” And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Peace! Be still!” And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm. He said to them, “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, “Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?”
I am sure we have all been in situations where we feel we are drowning in the waves of life and seem to be at the mercy of difficult circumstances or events, whether personal or super-personal. The disciples must have felt very frightened in that raging storm and it was impossible for them to understand how the Lord could sleep peacefully as the boat began to fill with water. But they were wrong to think that the Lord was not concerned about their distress. Jesus calms the wind with a single word and takes the opportunity to teach them a lesson: “Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?” -He asks His disciples.
This is the Lord’s intention! He wants us to have our security in Him in all circumstances. Just as the winds obey Him, so He has power over all the realities of life, even if they are incomprehensible to us and it seems to us that the Lord is asleep because He does not seem to hear our prayers and cries.
It is striking that the Lord insists so much on the theme of faith. Again and again He makes the disciples realise that it is faith that unleashes God’s action. Faith is, so to speak, the bridge through which God’s omnipotence can manifest itself concretely. This is why we must always ask the Lord to increase our faith, so that we may be deeply rooted in Him.
Faith is the light of our life after we have lost the paradisiacal vision of God as a result of sin, and we will not regain it until eternity, when we will behold Him as He is. In comparison with the beatific vision of heaven, faith is a dim light or a blurred mirror, as St Paul says: “For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face” (1 Cor 13:12). But it is still a light for us, a light that God Himself offers us and thanks to which we can see. How many things can we see thanks to faith; things that remain hidden to those who do not believe!
When we walk in the light of faith, with the certainty that “all things are possible to him who believes” (Mk 9:23), God can make Himself present and manifest much more intensely. In other words, the reality of God becomes so real for us that it can permeate everything. All areas of human existence are marked by this certainty, and in faith we can face everything: be it a storm on the high seas, be it the affairs of daily life, be it the great existential questions… This light illuminates the past, the present and the future! We could dare to say that the heavenly light dispels the darkness of ignorance and alienation from God; and when we walk in that light, we are on a sure path.
Pope Benedict XVI, certainly one of the most erudite men of our time, has insisted time and again that human reason must be enlightened by the supernatural light of faith, so that the knowledge that reason gives us can go further, leading us to a profound knowledge of God that surpasses any philosophical concept of divinity.
Certainly, faith is a gift and a supernatural virtue!
But God invites us to practise this faith generously, daring to face everything that may come our way on the path of discipleship. The Lord exhorts His disciples to have firm faith; He is surprised at the unbelief of some people (cf. Mt 14:31); He praises the faith of the Roman centurion and gives him as an example (cf. Lk 7:9); He praises the woman with a hemorrhage for having dared to come forward in faith and touch His cloak (cf. Mt 9:22)…
All this indicates that faith is not the exclusive work of God, without human participation! On the contrary, we are called to take steps of faith, to anchor our hearts more deeply in God, to dare to believe… With time, we will find that faith becomes more and more natural to us. From this point of view, we can ask ourselves how anyone can dare to live without faith.
In today’s Gospel, the Lord does not pity the disciples. It is not that He is indifferent to what they are experiencing, but He does not allow Himself to be swept away by their fear. He calms the storm and invites them to believe. In this faith, united to Him, they will be able to face all the tasks that will be entrusted to them. And so it is with us!