On that day, as evening drew on, Jesus said to his disciples:
“Let us cross to the other side.”
Leaving the crowd, they took Jesus with them in the boat just as he was.
And other boats were with him.
A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat,
so that it was already filling up.
Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.
They woke him and said to him,
“Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?”
He woke up,
rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!”
The wind ceased and there was great calm.
Then he asked them, “Why are you terrified?
Do you not yet have faith?”
They were filled with great awe and said to one another,
“Who then is this whom even wind and sea obey?”
This gospel shares four questions with us:
Why do you not care that we are going to perish?
We know the answer: of course Jesus cares—the Lord who is love cares for everything about us. But doesn’t it sometimes seem like God is asleep in our boat, not paying attention? How many times do we come to the Lord in the face of sickness; cancer, addiction, poverty or homelessness, or wars that never seem to end (or to accomplish their “mission”). And now Pope Francis is highlighting that the earth itself is wounded and nearly broken.
In the middle of June our country experienced yet another mass killing, by yet another isolated, deluded young man. This 21 year old—-with his broken background, uneducated, aimless, unloved, filled with lies and hate—-traveled to Charleston to shoot people in church. I was floored to hear that he said he almost did not do it because “people were so nice to him.” Even that experience could not displace the ignorance and fear that lives in his mind and heart.
Why are you terrified?
We can be afraid because these things are real; they hurt, and they come to every one of us.
We can make the question Jesus gives these disciples our own: , “Why am I terrified? What makes me afraid?” Coming to know and understand these, we can move from fear to faith. Jesus asleep in the boat, utterly trusting in his Father, resting in the arms of God provides a powerful and tender icon of faith for us to aspire to.
Do you not yet have faith?
We do not have to have perfect faith. Faith is just the size of a tiny mustard seed is enough for God, enough for us to go forward with him, beyond any fears and paralysis to the good, true and beautiful.
Who is this whom even wind and sea obey? The answer to that is clear: God is the almighty Creator of sea and sky. God can do anything but most often the Almighty is Emmanuel, God-With-Us, not taking charge, but showing us the way. God lets us exercise our freedom for good or for evil, to choose the light or the dark. God does not force, God invites, inspires, challenges, and guides.
How do you answer the four questions?