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When the Lord God created our visible universe, He not only set up this universe to be governed by certain physical laws, but also imbued it with certain forces which hold it together even to this day.  Such, for example, is the force of gravity, the magnetic force, the force of electrical energy.  But over and above these physical and visible forces – our universe is held together and governed by invisible spiritual forces which surpass the action of the physical ones: these are the forces of faith and love.

In two of the Sunday Gospel readings – that of the storm on the sea of Galilee and that of the healing of the youth possessed by demons – the Lord reveals to us the essence of this first force – the force of faith, and explains to us the only circumstances under which it is operative.

The force of faith is mighty indeed.  In his epistle to the Hebrews, Apostle Paul describes its majesty to us as seen in the example of the righteous ones of the Old Testament.  Through faith – says the Apostle – these righteous ones performed extraordinary feats: they vanquished kingdoms, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the violence of fire, turned to flight entire hosts of aliens.

Of course, one may think that such feats are possible only for saints and for righteous ones, but are unattainable by ordinary sinners.  However, in the narrative about the storm on the sea of Galilee we see Apostle Peter – at that time simply one of Christ’s disciples, an ordinary fisherman, – overcoming by his ardent faith the laws of nature and walking on water.  And in the subsequent Gospel reading we see other disciples of Christ, still ordinary people, because the grace of the Holy Spirit had yet to descend upon them.  However, through their faith in the Lord Jesus Christ they had supernatural power over the forces of evil, they had power to expel demons from people, and it was for this reason that the poor father, who had a son possessed by demons, had turned to them for help.

And what do we see, dear brethren?  Apostle Peter, who so easily treads water, begins to drown, while Christ’s disciples are unable in this case to cure the possessed youth.  Why is that?  It is at this point that the Lord reveals to us the requisite condition for faith to have its extraordinary effect: it is not enough to have just a little faith, or to believe somehow; no, faith must be firm, unquestioning, and absolute.

The Lord Himself points this out to us: to the drowning Apostle Peter He says: “O, thou of little faith, why do you doubt?”  Thus the Lord explains that it is only by means of firm faith that we can supersede the laws of nature, but if we have little faith or if we begin to doubt – we are once again subjected to them and… naturally begin to drown.  In the case of the possessed youth the Lord directly points out to His disciples that their usual power over the forces of evil had become ineffective because of their lack of faith, i.e. inadequate belief on their part in the possibility of spiritual forces prevailing over physical ones.  And the Lord also clearly indicates to us that it is not the quantity of faith that matters, but its quality, not the volume of faith, but its intensity.  Reproofing His disciples for their lack of faith, the Lord specifically says: “If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed (i.e. even the smallest iota of faith, but faith that is firm and entertains no doubts), so ye shall say unto this mountain: remove hence to yonder place, and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you.”

So you see, dear brethren, “nothing shall be impossible unto you,” if only you have firm faith.  And elsewhere the Lord says: “ye shall receive according to your faith,” and – “all is possible to him who believes.”

Herein lays the key to the use in our everyday lives of this great spiritual force: the force of faith.  When the turbulent waves of the sea of life overwhelm us, and it seems to us that we are drowning, – let us not be found lacking in faith, but instead, let us firmly believe that sooner or later, with God’s help we will be able to overcome all trials and tribulations.  When various misfortunes, calamities, or insurmountable barriers rise up in our path, – let us not lose our faith, let us not doubt, but instead, let us firmly believe that with God’s help we will be able to cope with all difficulties.

But if we should happen to fall into a state of disbelief or doubt, and we begin to sink in the sea of earthly misfortunes, then let us follow the example of Apostle Peter, dear brethren: just as he, beginning to drown, immediately cried out to Christ for help, so must we cry out to our Saviour in the words of the father of the possessed youth: “We believe, O Lord, help our disbelief!”  Amen.


Father Rostislav Sheniloff


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