Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith? There is something astounding in these words. The apostles are with Our Lord in a boat tossed around by waves to the point that they are about to capsize. Their lives are in danger. They turn to the One they know will not fail. They wake Him; He calms the sea, and saves the day.
Perhaps the apostles were expecting to hear some form of congratulation from the Lord: “well done, my friends. In your hour of trial, you did the right thing, you prayed to me with insistence, and I heard you”. Instead, they receive a gentle reproach: Why are you fearful, O ye of little faith?
I suspect that we, like the apostles, are not a little baffled by these words. Did not the apostles actually manifest a great faith when they woke the Lord, knowing full well that He would mend the situation?
Yes, they did, but the implication of the Lord’s words is that there is a way of deeper, greater faith.
There are times in our lives, individually, or collectively, when we feel that our little boat is about to be submerged in the waves of temptation, of conflict, of despair. So much that we had worked for is compromised; we are about to fall, to fail, to give up, to lose all hope. In those moments, we can lose heart and succumb to the Evil One. We then become his prey.
But in those moments there are two other attitudes, virtuous ones. We can increase our prayers, storm Heaven, make extra sacrifices, cry out with all our might to the Lord, so that He will intervene and change hearts, resolving a situation which seems desperate.
But there is another attitude one can have, and that is to accept in peace what is happening, trusting, in silent prayer and with unshakeable patience that the Lord is in control. He is in our little bark, but He is asleep. Rather, He seems to be asleep, but we know through faith, that He is keeping watch.
Such is the lesson, I think, of our Lord’s reproach to the apostles. It is as if to say: you, my close friends, you cannot afford to be like everyone else who runs to me, clamouring for help every time there is some trouble on the horizon. You, my close friends, my apostles, you must have absolute confidence in me, for your trials will be great. There will be many times when your little boat will be on the point of capsizing, but never forget, I am there. Even though I sleep, I keep watch, for I love you. “It is good to wait in silence for the salvation of God” (Lam 3:26).
St Therese of the Child Jesus understood this when she wrote the following stanza in her poem”Living on Love”:
Living on Love, when Jesus is sleeping,
Is rest on stormy seas.
Oh ! Lord, don’t fear that I’ll wake you.
I’m waiting in peace for Heaven’s shore…
Faith will soon tear its veil.
My hope is to see you one day.
Charity swells and pushes my sail :
I live on Love !…