At one time or another, man either as individual or collectively as a community may experience some kind of uneasiness or discomfort associated with a threat. That common feeling in us of apprehension about danger is commonly referred to as fear.
Its associated psycho-physiological response is generally known as anxiety. Both fear and anxiety are negative forces in man which can be very destructive if individuals do not find means of controlling or of coping up with them.
From our day to day experience, we see that people respond differently to threatening situations depending on their past encounter with fearful and anxious situations.
This in turn has much impact on how fear works on us. Some may look at it as a challenge to deal with; others may easily lose courage and rest helpless while others may prefer to blame it on others.
For some of us who may be quick to blame it on others God included; the bible has a good lesson for us. St. Mark in his account tells us how the disciples were threatened by a great storm while in a boat with Jesus on the Sea of Galilee and how they behaved out of fear in a way that Jesus did not appreciate at all. “.. a great storm of wind arose, and the waves beat into the boat, so that the boat was already filling.
But Jesus was in the stern, asleep on the cushion; and they woke him and said to him, «Teacher, do you not care if we perish?» And he awoke and rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, «Peace! Be still!» And the wind ceased, and there was a great calm.
He said to them, «Why are you afraid? Have you no faith?» And they were filled with awe, and said to one another, «Who then is this, that even wind and sea obey him?» “ (Mk 4, 35-41)
A number of commentaries have been written on this text. Some commentators saw in it an image of the Church, represented by the boat, rolling around and agitated by all sorts of things.
Likewise, we too as the followers of Christ are sometimes tormented and agitated in different ways: trials, difficulties, sadness, anguishes, and other torments of soul and body.
In our little problematic boats we may get a feeling that Jesus is just sleeping and that he is doing nothing to alleviate our embarrassment.
Very often when we look into our private life and at the events of the world around us, we are filled with indignation because of this or that.
We are tempted to ask God why he does not do anything in order to prevent this or that drama or catastrophe! Like the disciples we react as if we want to wake him up and to ask him to act, as though he isn’t always attentive to our needs in his eternal Providence.
In all our panic, in our fears, Jesus continues to ask us the same question: “Why are you so terrified? Why are you lacking in faith?” Here’s an important fact in our relationship with God.
In the case of the apostles; Jesus was there in the midst of the storm on the Sea of Galilee. But still, the mere presence of Jesus in the boat was not enough to keep the apostles from losing control.
That is the human element! Even though they knew that the Lord was with them, they were still consumed by fear. Jesus does not seem to understand where that kind of lack of faith in man comes from!
We are not different. How often do we despair in situations we can handle only if we have trust in God and in ourselves? How often do we expect help before we have tried and failed to get our own solutions?
In fact that missing element in Peter, James, John and the other disciples which was identified by Jesus immediately after he calmed the wind and the waves is our problem as well today: it is the lack of a deep and living faith!
Today as we check on our fears, both real and imaginary, let us hear the same words of Jesus being addressed to us:
“Why are you so terrified? Why are you lacking in faith?” Perhaps because we belong to another period of time, it is better to notice as well the tone that Jesus was using.
Then for us he would say, “You men should know better. There’s no reason for you to be acting this way. Look at how much I have done for you. Why don’t you have faith in me?”
As we cannot say that Jesus was being a bit too demanding in the case of his Apostles, that he was expecting too much from these twelve ordinary, weak human beings, so it is in our case because he has done much for each one of us. He has done so many miracles in your own life.