I remember when I used to travel a lot for work; I spent a lot of time on airplanes. At first flying made me nervous, but then the more I did it, the more comfortable I got. Sure, you have those flights where you’re flying through stormy weather with a lot of turbulence, but the more I flew, the more I realized how safe you are up in the skies when compared with other modes of transportation. When we would hit turbulence, I simply got used to it because I knew that the plane was flexible and was supposed to be moving around. I grew comfortable.
I imagine Jesus’ disciples felt the same way about being in a boat on the Sea of Galilee. They were fishermen. They spent a lot of time out there, and had weathered many storms, and it was no big deal. They were used to it. So, when they were confronted with one where they feared for their lives, it must have been a big one.
There was one time when I was flying though, where it was different. Almost the entire flight from Washington DC to Indianapolis was bumpy, and as we go closer to home, I felt that plane moving like I had never felt it before. It’s safe to say that I was holding onto those armrests pretty tight. This was a big one. I can only think that is how the disciples felt in todays Gospel reading. As we were descending into Indianapolis, the flight was getting rougher, the tail was shimmying from side to side, then up and down, and sometimes it felt like sideways and up and down at the same time! The cabin lights were going on and off, and we could not see anything out of the windows, just the blinking of the light at the end of the wing in the clouds. Then all of a sudden, we drop below the clouds and the shaking stopped. We saw the ground, the city lights, and it was completely smooth the rest of the way. It was instantaneous, and truly amazing. Was this what it felt to the disciples on the Sea of Galilee that day?
Was this how it felt when Jesus woke up, and told the wind and sea to “Quiet! Be still”? That day of my flight I was pretty scared. The disciples were terrified. But yet Jesus asks the question – “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?” That’s an excellent question! Why was I terrified? I was terrified, just as the disciples were, because I had no control over the situation. The disciples had no control. It was totally out of our control. We were totally at the mercy of nature, and the mercy of God.
Faith is defined as complete trust in something for which there is no proof. The first reading today from the letter to the Hebrews says
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.
That day I was praying that we would quickly and safely be on the ground. But where was my faith? I was hoping and praying to God that we would land quickly and safely, but yet I still felt fear. Even though I had read the Gospel stories and heard about Jesus’ miracles over and over, and believed in Christ’s love and in eternal life, I was still consumed by fear. How strong then was my faith? I knew right then I needed to grow more in my faith, just as I know I have a lot more to grow still.
The disciples were in the same boat (pun intended)! They had a Man with them who had been performing miracles that were beyond imagination, but yet when they were in danger they were afraid. They had not yet realized Who he truly was and were still gripped by fear. They had the proof in His miracles, and they had the Son of God on their boat with them, but yet they still were afraid for their lives and did not have the faith in Who He was and what He could do.
How strong is your faith? When you are in troubled times, or faced with dangers, perils, decisions and challenges in your life, do you place your faith completely in Christ and know that He will calm the winds? Do you trust that He will guide you to where you need to be? Where do you turn? Do you turn to Christ in prayer and the Sacraments? Do you spend time with Him in Eucharistic Adoration and let Him speak to you?
When the Holy Spirit is telling you something in your heart, telling you to do something or calling you to be someone better, do you have faith and listen? Are you like Abraham? Abraham had to be one of the most faithful people in history. He had the faith to leave his home and journey to the promised land that God had called him to. Through his faith he and Sarah had a child when it was essentially impossible. Through his faith he showed his love and trust in God to the point where he was going to sacrifice his son for God. Would we have such faith? It would be extremely tough. Thankfully for most of us, we’re not asked to have that level of faith that guys like Abraham were asked to have.
But we each have our storms. We each have our turbulence in life where we get concerned and afraid for what is next. We have those times where we may feel called by God, but we’re scared. We have those times where the Holy Spirit tugs at our heart, and we know the right decision we need to make, but we are afraid to because we like what’s comfortable, or maybe the road ahead is a lot tougher.
But during these times, listen to your heart, and look to Christ to get you through, just as the disciples learned in the Gospel. Look to the Holy Spirit to guide you and to show you the way like Abraham. If you have a decision to make and deep down you know the right answer, but you’re afraid of the road ahead and that it may be difficult, or painful, or uncomfortable, trust in Him no matter what. Ask Him for guidance and discernment, and seek His grace through the Sacraments. Trust Jesus to guide you through the storm and simply let Him take control. Let Him fly the plane, and have faith in Him because He has faith in you. Simply let go of the fear and live.