What Is Keeping Me from My Faith?
BY ALYSSA PEREZ | June 21, 2021
Yesterday’s gospel from Mark invites us into imaginative prayer: Imagine you are someone who gets on the boat with Jesus. He falls asleep on a cushion when all of a sudden, violent waves come crashing into the boat and it begins to fill up. You look over and Jesus is still sleeping. You start to panic. You don’t want to wake him, but you also don’t want to drown or die. So, you end up waking him up just to find out that he stops the storm immediately, and there was nothing to worry about the whole time. Think to yourself, “You were literally in the boat with Jesus, the Son of God, and yet you still doubted that everything would be okay—what is it exactly that you were fearing? Why was it so easy to doubt Jesus and his abilities?”
We do this all the time in little and small ways—doubt. It is one thing to have doubts, and another thing to act on those doubts to the point where Jesus’ presence in our lives—or in our boat—means nothing and we are still scared. Do we not trust that God knows our deepest desires and would not let us perish? Jesus asks us, “Why are you terrified? Do you not yet have faith?”
In other words—what else does Jesus need to do in order for us to believe? To believe in him and to put our trust in him—our complete trust, not just when things are going great in our lives, but especially when they are not. When there are turbulent waves in our life, do we still genuinely fear that everything will fall apart or that we will perish? But even if things were to fall apart or perish, do we not trust that God was simply making space to build something even greater for us?
It is not easy to have true faith; and true faith is not the same as blind faith. True faith is an unwavering trust that God loves us and has our back, and walks with us through the good times and the bad times. With God in our lives, what is there to fear? As I imagine myself in the story, I know that I am just as guilty as the disciples who were afraid. How could Jesus possibly calm this massive storm? But he does, and all are amazed. God continues to amaze me and show up for me in ways I could have never imagined, and yet I still think I would be someone of wavering faith in a violent storm.
What else does God have to do to prove that God loves us and will protect us in turbulent storms? What will it take to truly have faith? Witnessing a miracle like the disciples? Maybe. But even then, will that be enough? What would it honestly take for me to have true, and complete faith in God? Mark’s gospel yesterday invites us all to bring that question to God in prayer today.
Alyssa Perez serves as a community organizer for LA Voice, a multiracial and multifaith organizing network in LA County. She was a Jesuit Volunteer in Belize City (’15-’17) and holds theology and political science degrees from Loyola Marymount University and a masters of nonprofit administration from the University of San Francisco. Having been Jesuit educated for 12 years, she is deeply committed to Ignatian spirituality and building the Beloved community.
Sometimes it’s easy to think we would have acted differently than the “dense” disciples who didn’t really know Jesus was God – he doubted himself sometimes. Is it not better to just move forward not chastising ourselves too much having faith in Jesus’s acceptance of us, as is, warts and all. That’s my “boat in the storm” here and now, challenging me each and every day.
Being in the boat with Jesus is an awesome comfort in our chaotic world. I certainly understand the fear of the apostles. Giving others the message of Jesus is a challenging as well as joyful task.
The fear of others who changed in ways we didn’t expect during the pandemic. The fear of the future as it will never got back to normal..we need to move forward, to ask the Holy Spirit for His inspiration and guidance.
The fear that we will not mentor with intensity the next generation. They need our constant encouragement and love. The fear that people will not have meaningful jobs or purpose of living. Each person has a special gift to use in service to others.
The fear that people will lose their faith and leave us to pray alone. They need our prayers and good works so they overcome the fear and hang on to what Christ offers all of us.
The fear that our relationships with friends will dissipate and leave us without the strength to continue with being a follower of Christ.
Let us all spend significant time in prayer for each other as well as those we don’t know so that they will challenge themselves and each other to encourage/strengthen/love and love all in our path today.
We pray especially for the courage of our Pope Francis and his bishops and priests so they direct people in the way of the Lord.
For me, faith is not childlike, as I am no longer a child. My faith, now 80+ years old, has been tested not just by my lifetime experiences but by millennia of human history. The human race has trusted God in one name or another and has persisted in working past wars and diseases by trusting that somehow tomorrow can be better, especially if humans cooperate in making it so. Today, as countless people have turned away from formal faith and worship communities to explore spirituality alone and with others, they seek better ways to do right, which is to seek justice, to have peace of soul and to love their fellows, human and non-human.
This was one of the better reflections – excellent, really. Thanks for posting.
Meaningful reflection. Thanks Alyssa Perez. I remember of having read somewhere, “God has never lost a battle. God will never leave nor forsake you. Therefore, you will never lose any battle that God has placed you in, because He will fight it for you and He will win”.