Here is an official working translation provided by the Vatican of the address Pope Francis gave today from his window to socially distant faithful in St. Peter’s Square, before praying the midday Angelus:
* * *
Before the Angelus:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
This Sunday’s Gospel passage (cf. Mt 14:22-33) speaks of Jesus walking on the water of the stormy lake. After feeding the crowds with five loaves and two fish – as we saw last Sunday – Jesus commands the disciples to get into the boat and return to the other shore. He dismisses the people and then climbs the hill, alone, to pray. He immerses himself in communion with the Father.
During the crossing of the lake by night, the disciples’ boat is hindered by a sudden wind storm. At a certain point, they see someone walking on the water, coming toward them. Upset, they think it is a ghost and cry out in fear. Jesus reassures them: “Take heart, it is I; have no fear”. Then Peter answers: “Lord, if it is you, bid me come to you on the water”. And Jesus tells him: “Come”. Peter gets out of the boat and takes a few steps; then the wind and waves frighten him and he begins to sink. “Lord, save me”, he cries, and Jesus grasps him by the hand and says to him: “O man of little faith, why did you doubt?”.
This narrative is a call to abandon ourselves trustingly to God in every moment of our life,
especially in moments of trial and turmoil. When we have strong feelings of doubt and fear and we seem to be sinking, we must not be ashamed to cry out, like Peter: “Lord, save me” (v. 30). It is a beautiful prayer! And the gesture of Jesus, who immediately reaches out his hand and grasps that of his friend, should be contemplated at length: this is Jesus; he is the hand of the Father who never abandons us; the strong and faithful hand of the Father, who always and only wants what is good for us. God is not the hurricane, the fire, the earthquake – as the narrative about the Prophet Elijah also recalls today; God is the light breeze that never imposes itself but asks to be heard (cf. 1 Kings 19:11-13). Having faith means, amid the storm, keeping your heart turned to God, to his love, to his Fatherly tenderness. Jesus wanted to teach this to Peter and the disciples, and also to us today. He is well aware that our faith is lacking and that our journey can be troubled, hindered by adverse forces. But he is the Risen One, the Lord who went through death in order to lead us to safety. Even before we begin to seek him, he is present beside us. And in lifting us back up after our falls, he helps us grow in faith.
The boat at the mercy of the storm is the image of the Church, which in every age encounters contrary winds, at times very harsh trials: let us think of certain long and persistent persecutions of the last century. In those situations, she may have the temptation to think that God has abandoned her. But in reality it is precisely in those moments that the witness of faith, love and hope shines the most. It is the presence of the Risen Christ in his Church that gives the grace of witness unto martyrdom, from which sprout new Christians and fruits of reconciliation and peace for the entire world.
May the intercession of Mary Most Holy help us to persevere in faith and fraternal love when the
darkness and storms of life set our trust in God into crisis.