The Lord going into the boat His Disciples follow Him. They
were not weak men, but strong and steady in faith, kind, good, and unworldly:
nor were they two-faced, but simple of heart. They followed Him, not alone
in His footsteps, but also walking with Him in holiness of life, striving
And behold a great tempest arose upon the sea. For since the Lord had
wrought great and wondrous signs upon the land, He now crosses over the
sea that here also He may show yet greater wonders, that He might make
plain to all that He was Master both of the sea and of the land. Entering
therefore into the little boat He caused a storm to arise upon the sea,
and caused the winds to blow and the waves to swell up. Why did He do this?
That He might awaken fear in the hearts of His Disciples, that they be
compelled to seek His help, and to make manifest His power to those that
sought it. For this storm arose not of its own accord, but in obedience
to His power: Who bringeth forth winds out of his stores (Ps. cxxxiv. 7):
Who set time sand a bound for the sea (Jer. v. 22); and said: hitherto
tiwu shalt come, and shall go no further, and here thou shalt break thy
swelling waves (Job. xxxviii. 11).
By His command, therefore and precept the tempest has risen in the sea,
for the reasons we have already said. There was then a great tem-pest raging,
not a little one, that He might put forth a great wonder, not a little
one; and the greater the battering of the waves against the little boat,
the more the fear of the Disciples mounted, and the more they desired to
be delivered by the wonders of the Saviour.
But the Lord was asleep. O great and wondrous thing! Does He Who never
sleeps now sleep? Does He now sleep that rules both heaven and earth? Is
it He Who never wearies, or falls asleep, that here is said to fall asleep?
Yes, in His Human Body He sleeps, but in His Godhead He keeps watch. He
sleeps in this Body of flesh, yet He causes the storm to arise on the sea,
and the waves to mount up, and fear to come upon the Disciples, so that
He may reveal to them His Power. He sleeps in this Body, as at the well
by the wayside He sat tired and weary; showing that He bore a Body that
was truly human: that He had clothed Himself with what was perishable.
In this Body He slept; in His Godhead He troubled the sea, and again
restored it to tranquillity. He thus slept in His Body that He might awaken
His Disciples, and make them keep vigil; and we likewise, so that we too
sleep not in our souls, nor in our understanding, nor in wisdom; but that
at all times we keep watch, and give praise to the Lord, and eagerly seek
from Him our salvation. For He Who now sleeps in the Body has spoken these
holy words: I sleep, and my heart watcheth (Cant. V. 2).
And they came to Him, and awakened Him, saying: Lord, save us we perish.
So fearful were they, and almost out of their minds, that they rushed to
Him, and roused Him, not modestly and gently, but violently awakening Him,
they cried: Lord save us, we perish. O blessed and truthful Disciples of
the Lord! You have with you the Lord our Saviour, and you are in fear of
danger? With you is Life, and you are fearful of death? Fearful of the
tumult of the sea, you thus waken its Creator, Who is beside you, as if,
while sleeping in His Body, He could not calm the waves or hush them to
But what answer do they give, these beloved Disciples? We are, they
say, but as children, still weak, nor yet grown to our strength. And so
we fear, so we tremble. Nor have we yet beheld the Cross, nor has the Passion
of Christ yet strengthened us, nor has His resurrection, nor His ascent
into heaven, nor the sending and the coming of the Holy Ghost the Comforter.
For this reason we waver in our weakness; for this reason have we heard
from the Lord the oft repeated chiding of our littleness of faith. But
we bear up, we readily endure, we eagerly look forward. Hence says the
Lord: Why are ye fearful. O Ye of little faith? Why have ye not courage?
Why have you no confidence, no trust, among you? and though death should
threaten you, ought you not courageously to stand your ground? For against
that which you shall meet courage is necessary. We must cling steadfastly
to courage of soul in the face of every danger, or suffering, even to the
giving up of life, and likewise against earthly delights, riches, honours,
so that, O Man, you be not blown up, or raised above yourself in pride:
so that you despise not your enemy: nor look down upon the lowly: nor be
unmindful of the Lord: nor forget thy Creator: nor become an unprofitable
servant. If then fortitude is necessary in trial and in danger so as to
bear up manfully against whatever may assail you, how much more is it needful,
as I have said, against allurements, against luxuries, lest you be caught
in the devil’s mousetrap?
Why therefore are ye troubled, o ye of little faith? If you have known
me to have power on the land, why do you not believe that I have power
also upon the sea? If you believe me to be God, the Creator of all things,
why do you not also believe that the things which I have made are subject
to my power? Why do ye doubt, O ye of little faith? He that is of little
faith is reproved, he that believeth not will be condemned; the weak in
faith will be gathered in, those wholly estranged from the faith will be
punished. Such were the Jews and the Pagans, and in their evils they have
vanished. Such are the heretics, and so in the day of judgment will they
Then rising up He commanded the winds and the sea, and there came a
great calm. It was written: and the Lord was awakened as one out of sleep,
and he smote his enemies on the hinder parts (Ps. lxxvii. 66); and now
rising up He commands, and there comes a great calm. He commands the winds
and the sea as their Lord, and, for the first time, in the presence of
the Disciples, so that hearing Him command them they would be confirmed
in their faith. And he here commands by the veiled power of the Godhead;
and He commanded as it was also written: thou rulest the power of the sea:
and appeasest the motion of the waves thereof (Ps. lxxxviii. 10). Upon
a sea tossed about and swollen by a great wind, and a great tempest, there
comes a great calm. It was befitting that He that is Mighty should do great
things. And so, girt with mighty power, he shakes the sea to its depths:
and again, showing the splendour of His might, He commands that there shall
arise a great calm, so that the Apostles, who had feared exceedingly, being
now delivered might rejoice.
By means of all these happenings the Lord gave us a figure and image
of His teaching, so that we might be patient in the face of every storm
and persecution; that we may be steadfast; that we betray not our faith.
And if all this world should boil up as the sea, and rise in fury against
us: though on every side there should rage the winds and the whirlpools
of the demons: though, as we have said, every menace of the sea, that is,
every principality and power of this world, be roused against us, foaming
with the swelling of their wrath, so as to torment the sanctified: and
though like to the sea they whip up wickedness and treacheries to the very
skies, stirring up against you the murmuring of the evilminded: yet, be
not afraid; be not troubled: do not tremble: do not yield.
For as many as are in the little ship of faith are sailing with the
Lord; as many as are in the Bark of Holy Church will voyage with the Lord
across this wave—tossed life; though the Lord Himself may sleep in holy
quiet, He is but watching your patience and endurance: looking forward
to the repentance, and to the conversion, of those who have sinned.
Come then to Him eagerly, instant in prayer, saying with the prophet:
Arise, why sleepest thou, O Lord? Arise, and cast us not off to the end;
and again: Arise, O Lord, help us and redeem us for thy name’s sake (Ps.
xliii. 23, 26). And He rising up commanded the winds, that is, the spirits
among the demons that dwell in the air. For they stir up the tempests of
the sea, that is, they provoke the evil swollen waves who are the rulers
of this world, to wage persecutions against the sanctified; to inflict
torments on the faithful in Christ. But the Lord commands all things, rebukes
all things, lays upon each what they must do, tempers all things; and then
brings a great calm around soul and body, gives back peace to the church,
restores serenity to the world.
For how often have the counsels of the wicked, sometimes from among
the pagans, sometimes from the heretics, plotted against the faithful steadfast
church? As the waves of the sea have risen, so have the rulers of this
world, to threaten and terrify, and thinking in this way to exterminate
the children of the Church. But the Lord has reproved the rising winds,
which are the demons, and scattered these impudent adversaries, and given
a great peace to the church.
But the men that were in the boat wondered. Which men? Those who were
the owners of the boat, or those who were only sailing in it? Do not believe
that it is the Apostles that are here referred to. For nowhere do we find
the Apostles referred to without due respect; always they are spoken of
either as the Apostles, or as the Disciples. Those men therefore wondered
who were sailing the ship with Him; they to whom it belonged, and others
who were also crossing over in the same ship: these it was who wondered.
And it was truly a cause of wonder; to quieten a sea that was shaken to
its depths, calm the stormy waves, and check the fury of the winds. They
wondered therefore, saying: What manner of man is this? They say this:
what manner of man is he, not as questioning but as affirming that he is
such that the sea and the winds obey Him. What manner of man is this? As
much as to say: how great, how strong, how wonderful? What manner of man
is this? Greater than Moses, mightier than Elias. For of these two, one
by the instrument of the rod stretched forth above the sea crossed over
on dry ground (Ex. xiv. 16), the other needed with his mantle to strike
the waters so as to cross the bed of the Jordan (IV Kgs. ii. 8); while
He with a word speaks to those that are without words, and they obey Him,
to those that hear hot, and they hearken to Him: to the things that are
without sense or understanding, and they bow to Him that commands them:
to them that have neither speech nor words, and they obey His voice. But
in their substance, in their nature, they are set in motion and obey His
command; to the confusion of men, to the condemnation of our disobedience.
He commands the sea, and it disobeys not: He speaks to the winds, and
to the storm, and Lo! they are still: He commands every creature, and they
move not beyond what He commands. Only the race of men, which alone is
honoured in being made in His likeness, to whom speech and understanding
has been given, only these, only men, resist; they alone obey Him not:
they alone despise Him. And for this cause they alone will be condemned
at the judgement, and punished by His justice; in this being lower than
the dumb beasts, or than the things of the world that are without sense
or without feeling.
They wonder at Him because He restrained the sea, and quietened the
winds. Let us wonder at Him too, when He shows kindness and generosity
towards us; when He comes down to deliver us from dangers; when He delivers
us from manifold trials and pains; when He rescues us from the snares of
our enemies. Let us wonder, and wondering give thanks; let us be responsive
to His grace, and being obedient, let us also fear Him; and fearing Him,
let us love Him, so that we become inheritors of eternal love.
They wondered, saying: what manner of man is this? He appears as man,
but as God He shows forth His power. For while we see that He is of our
flesh, He manifests signs and wonders that are above the power of all flesh.
As man He sleeps, as God He commands the winds and the seas. He rests in
the little ship, yet where He wills all creatures bow down before His Majesty,
Jesus Christ Our Lord, Who with the Father and the Holy Ghost, liveth and
reigneth world without end. Amen.