Most Food For Faith readers will find this reflection when the sabbath is past and Monday morning has returned us all to school, study, home and work commitments. In the midst of these demands it would be a great loss to forget the beauty and power of Sunday’s gospel reading, so here, at the start of the new week, is a reminder of the heart of yesterday’s message.
I often think that God could do a bit better with arranging weather. Too often we have either too much rain or not enough, flood or drought, then it’s too cold or too hot, and just when we need some calm, a great storm blows up as for many in the South Island over these days.
For us people of the land in the Hurunui the drought has become interminable and the cost is high in every way. We continue to pray, but perhaps some of us have been a bit half-hearted wondering if God is listening or will respond to our weather prayers. Many of the news stories from around the world are also about people struggling with similarly harsh climates or unexpectedly dramatic weather. Perhaps weather is just not God’s thing?
You know the Gospel parable of Jesus asleep in the boat with his disciples full of fear as stormy weather threatens to overtake them. The picture is vivid, wind, rain, rough sea and the terrified faces of the disciples with Jesus soundly sleeping, seemingly without a care in the world. The writer even emphasises Jesus’ comfort adding that Jesus had his “head on a cushion.”
The odd thing is that it was Jesus who had earlier in the evening suggested that they take the boat and “cross over to the other side” of the lake. Did Jesus not know the storm would blow up and threaten to swamp the boat? Well we all know the middle bit of the account, storm blows up and the disciples get frightened, they wake Jesus and ask, “Do you not care? We are going down!” Jesus wakes and commands the wind and the sea to be calm and, at his word, peace returns.
Then comes the key question for the disciples, and for us. In this account from Mark (a little different from Matthew’s telling), Jesus asks why they were so frightened and then adds, “how is it that you have no faith.” Note that detail, not ‘you of little faith’ (as in Matthew) but “how is it that you have NO faith?”
I often hear people comment that their faith is weak, or that they have little faith. People pray for a strengthening of faith. I often feel the same way. Like St. Paul I too often find myself doing the things I don’t want to do and not doing the very things I deeply desire to do. In these all too regular situations I blame my weak faith.
In today’s gospel reading Jesus is suggesting that people don’t have little or weak faith. Instead people either have faith, or they don’t have faith, one option or the other, not both or half and half. Faith: you either have it or don’t have it! Jesus looks at the disciples in the boat and tell them not that they have “little” faith, but that they have NO faith.
This makes a lot of sense to me. There are some moments when I know I am living as a person of faith. Then there are other moments when my problem is not that I only have a bit of faith, but that I am living without faith. It is that simple.
Before you go down the path of thinking you might have no faith, I will guarantee that the fact you have read this much of this faith reflection is proof that (at least in these minutes) you are living as a person of faith.
So too, if you take a moment or two in the midst of a busy day to speak with Jesus not only as your friend but as your God, then you have faith. “Big” and “little” have more to do with competition and capitalism thatn with faith. We don’t need to have big faith. Remember last Sunday when we heard that faith the size of a mustard seed is sufficient?
Conversely when we sin, we are living without faith. When I fail to love, it’s not that I have little faith, but that I am living (at least in that moment) without faith. When I refuse to let go of a security, or fail to forgive, I am without faith.
The disciples were so without faith on the stormy sea that they did not even ask Jesus to remedy their sinking feeling; they simply accused him of not caring and stated “we are going down.”
When I am living as a person of faith I live in constant and conscious awareness of my total dependance on God. At the start of this new week let’s turn to Jesus with the confidence that his love for us gives to us. knowing that he alone can lead us through all storms and give us peace.