(Genesis 2.4b-9, 15-25, Psalm 65, Revelation 4 & Luke 8.22-25) – Year C

Jesus asks a lot of questions.  It you look at the Gospels closely many of his encounters begin with him asking a question.  Often he responds to a challenge or a test from his opponents by asking them a question in return.  Some open up a pastoral encounter (e.g. ’What do you want me to do for you?’ in Mark 10.51).  Others, like in today’s passage, require courageous learning, from those he was speaking to there and then, and from us. 

He asks: ‘Where is your faith?’

As the storm rose and engulfed them and Jesus lay asleep, perhaps the disciples thought he didn’t care, or didn’t understand the danger they were in.  The disciples who had made their living from fishing, they certainly knew the danger.  Jesus, on the other hand, was the son of a carpenter and a teacher – perhaps they assumed he had very little experience of sailing.  No doubt they put all their experience to good use as they struggled with the sails, but as the boat was starting to sink, they finally decided to wake Jesus.

His response is immediate.  He spoke and there was a calm.

Who is able to do such a thing?

The act of calming the storm might be enough to guess, but it is in scripture that we are shown, over and over again, exactly who has command over creation.

Reason tells us that it must be someone who was involved in creation, that spark of life that brought the universe into being.  In Revelation we are given the wonderful words of praise which we will hear echoing through the Memorial Acclamation in Eucharistic prayer: ‘who was and is and is to come.’    And St John went onto to write, “for you created all things, and by your will they existed and were created.”  And so the final book of the Bible, Revelation, leads us back to our first reading and the first book of Bible, Genesis.

Furthermore in our psalm today, psalm 65, which is a great hymn of praise to the creator of the world, we find in the middle an acknowledgment of the power of God, not just to create but over creation:  ‘You still the raging of the seas, the roaring of the waves and the clamour of the peoples.’

Who then is Jesus?

Jesus is the one who can do all these things. 

Jesus is the one we can trust to bring us peace. 

Jesus is God.

So why does he asks the disciples, ‘where is your faith?’  

He asks because they has already seen so much of his work that by this point they should not only have understood his identity but also have begun to trust in him, and yet they still haven’t got it.  What would it take for the truth to sink into the disciples hearts and minds?

Our relationship with Jesus changes the way in which we see the world.  As we start to understand who Jesus is, then we can begin to trust in him in a completely new way.

The problem is: trust is something people find difficult to do.

Self-reliance has become one of the modern idols of our world.  We fear relying on God.  It feels much safer to rely on ourselves, on our own abilities.  Then we can’t be let down by others.  

But if these last two years have taught us anything it is that relying solely on ourselves is exhausting, and ultimately futile.  In the whole history of humankind, never have we had so much knowledge, the ability to travel across the world, even to control our homes from our phones.

The past two years have been like an endless storm.  We’ve gone from super busy to suddenly super alone and isolated.  Even now we have not passed into a calm.  

We need space to breathe and to be refreshed; to lament what we have lost, and to revive our hope in what is to come. 

As we reflect on Jesus, serenely asleep in the boat, I wonder whether it would be a good idea if this Lent we gave up being competent.  How might our lives look if we stopped trying to do everything, stopped relying on ourselves to save the world, and trusted a little more in Jesus?

How would you feel about letting the storm go?  

If amongst the chaos of life, we said to Jesus, ‘I’m going to sit down beside you.  I’m trusting in you, Lord.  After all, what can happen to me if I am with you?’

The truth is we do not know if this particular storm is coming to its end, or if there are more variants to come.  We do know it will not be the only storm of life we will face.  

But we can face them with a lighter heart if we spend the time we have living life to its fullest, joyful and vibrant, by sharing it with others around us, and, very importantly, with God.  The more time we spend with God, the more we come to know him, the more we will trust him.  

And when the wind and the waves do once more roar around us, then we will open our eyes to find that Jesus is right there beside us, and we will find true peace and calm.

(Artwork: ‘Christ asleep in his boat’ by Jules Jospeh Meynier)