Illusions from Crisis of Faith
(see Mt 14:22-33)
Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
The Gospel story tells us that the disciples of Jesus confronting kind of tsunami when on board a tiny boat crossing the sea of Tiberias of Galilee could not recognize their Master but thought that He was a ghost.
That happened because of the following three reasons:
One, the disciples were so extremely frightened that they failed to make full use of their good senses. Unless there would be something wrong with our sight, the eyes always capture the best image that no manmade camera can ever do. Unless there would be something wrong with our hearing, the ears always provide the best sound that no audio hi-tech sensor can ever do. Unless there would be something wrong with our taste, our tongue always gives the best savor that no artificial device can ever do.
So, it was not their eyes that went wrong in taking picture of the Master walking on the sea water, but rather their mind filled with fear and confusion that distorted the beautiful image of Jesus and turned Him into the horrible darkness of forces of evil.
Two, bias or prejudice of all kinds from both within and without can also end up in disfiguring real and objective information from the outside world and changing it into wrong reality or a truth badly edited to fit subjective viewpoint or selfish agenda.
One day, Master Kungfuzi, popularly known as Confucius, was leading his disciples on a field study journey when they suffered a shortage of food because the region where they visited was inflicted with a severe famine. The Master assigned one of his trusted disciples to cook lunch for the group. A colleague happened to see the cook eat the rice before serving the Master and friends. He immediately reported to the Master the scandalous act of gluttony. The Master saddened by the event could not help but openly express his disappointment, saying to the disciple who was caught by the very shameful act of cheating, “My son, you have betrayed my trust in you. Say good-bye and go your way.” “Master,” replied the person thought to be the culprit, “when the rice had been just cooked, I realized that a portion of rice on the surface was mixed with dirt. I thought that it would be a waste of our scarce food to throw the dirty rice away. So I decided to consume that polluted rice in order that my Master and colleagues might have enough and clean food to eat.” People could hear a very remorseful Master cry out of repentance: “Oh, my God! So pitiful am I! I have eyes but cannot see! I have brain but am not able to think!”
Three, the disciples were not able to recognize Jesus in time of trials and difficulties because their faith was not strong enough. Pope Francis likes to describe the faith in Christ which we Christians have as the compass of the ship. It is very risky for the ship of our life as both individuals and communities to cross the stormy sea of this world without a compass, meaning to say a strong faith in God, our heavenly Father and Master of history of humanity and in Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior of the world. Without faith, we become victims of the forces of evil in all forms and will end up in just seeing illusions such as violence, hatred, killing, bloody war and death.
Together with the disciples, let us cry out to God, our Merciful Father Who always listens to and watches over us His children for help. Let us also pray to Jesus Christ our Lord and Savior: “Lord, increase our faith so that we can survive this life!” Amen.
Fr. Francis Nguyen Van Nhut, O.P.