“Where Is Your Faith?”

Homily on Luke 8.22–25 delivered in Three Hierarchs Chapel on October 12, 2016
By Seminarian Philip Maikkula

philip_maikkua_0-medium_300_x_300_maxIn the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

“Where is your faith?” Did you notice that question? Our Lord asked his disciples…where is your faith?

It’s almost a silly question. After all, the disciples seemingly did everything right. They got into the boat with Jesus to sail across the Sea of Galilee, and when the weather turned for the worst, they cried out to Jesus in their moment of distress.

You might imagine their emphatic reply to our Lord’s question: “Our faith is in you Lord! That is why we called out to you to rescue us.” But is that really what’s going on? After all, if the disciples were faithful to Christ, then why then did our Lord question their faith?

Notice a few things.

Notice, our Lord didn’t say, “Have a little more faith,” as if the disciples were panicking because they didn’t quite think that Jesus could handle the situation. If that were the case, you might imagine Christ turning to the disciples to say: “Don’t worry…I’ve got this.” But of course our Lord didn’t say that, because, the disciples weren’t struggling with too little faith.

Notice also, our Lord didn’t say, “Keep the faith,” as if the disciples were losing faith at the sight of waves crashing into their boat. If that were the case, you might imagine Christ turning to his disciples and saying with a reassuring nod: “Keep your chin up!” But of course Christ didn’t say that, because the disciples weren’t struggling to simply keep their faith.

Notice again, our Lord didn’t say, “Understand your faith,” as if the main problem for the disciples were the quality of their catechesis. If the solution to the disciples fear and panic were purely academic, then you might imagine our Lord saying, “Get a little education.” But of course, our Lord didn’t say that.

Instead what did he say? “Where is your faith?” You see, the disciples had faith. They had it. But their faith was in their own ability, their own skills, and their own achievements. These were profession fisherman, after all, who spent countless hours on the Sea of Galilee. They were experts with boats and knew about storms on the sea.

You see, the disciples’ main problem was that they had placed their faith in themselves.

They treated our Lord like we might treat a life preserver: there in case of emergency, but normally we manage things on own. You can see this is true because the disciples only turned to Christ when it seemed that all hope was lost and the boat was going under. They only needed Him when their own skills had come to an end.

Today, Our Lord is asking us, “Where is your faith?” I would guess that all of us have found ourselves, like the disciples in some degree, experts in our own little worlds that we know so well and can control. Professionals. Skilled. Practiced. Whether it be at our jobs, our homes, our schooling, or our hobbies.

Yet, I dare say we all have found ourselves like the disciples, overwhelmed by the storms of life. In those situations, it’s so easy for us to trust our own strength, our own abilities, and our own talents. In fact, like the disciples, it precisely in those areas in which we feel most confident that we tend to forget that God is in the boat with us. And when the storms of life rage, how often do we find ourselves overwhelmed by fear, anxiety, and despair because we have been relying on ourselves instead of Christ.

The Holy Prophet Moses reminds us in his farewell speech to the Israelites: “Be strong and of good courage, do not fear or be in dread…for it is the Lord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”[1] You see, because the Lord Our God is with us always, whether in the calm or in the midst of the storm, we need not rely upon our own strength. Because Christ is with us, we place our faith in Him rather than ourselves.

I’m reminded of the example of the Three Holy Youths, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego. I’m sure you remember the story. King Nebuchadnezzar had set up a giant statue of gold in Babylon and commanded all the people of the land to bow down in worship when they heard the music play. But when the music began, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused to worship the idol of the king. When spies informed the king of the actions of the young men, he was filled with fury. He had warned that those who would not obey would face death in a fiery furnace. How dare anyone disobey his command!

Yet, even when brought before the king and offered another chance to bow down and worship the golden image, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego refused the king’s command. You see, the Three Holy Youths remembered the God was with them, and because their faith was completely in our Lord, they had peace.

They told the king: “Our God is able to rescue us from the fiery furnace, and he can deliver us from your hand, but even if he doesn’t, we will not worship the idols of Babylon.” Because their faith was in God, they could calmly face any storm, even death.

So when the king heated the furnace seven times hotter than normal, and the flames leapt so high that even those who threw the three youths into the furnace perished because of the heat, even still, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego were faithful to the last.

And what did the king see?…four men standing in the flames. Just as Moses had promised long ago, our Lord Jesus Christ is with us. He was with the Three Holy Youths in the furnace. He was with the disciples in the midst of the storm. He is with us in the midst of our lives.

Today Christ asks us: “Where is your faith?” Let us answer as the Three Youths did from the midst of the storm of flame… “With all our hearts we follow thee.”[2]

Amen.

[1] Deuteronomy 31.6

[2] Prayer of Azariah 1.18 LXX version of Daniel


Philip Maikkula is a second year seminarian in the Master of Divinity program. Philip and his wife, Whitney, have two children together. After seminary, Philip and his family hope to pursue further studies in the area of Scripture in order to serve the Church.

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