At the time, large bodies of water, especially during storms, were believed to contain evil powers uncontrollable by man, he explained.
“Now, the disciples found themselves in the middle of the lake when it was dark,” he said. “They are afraid of sinking, of being sucked in by evil. And here comes Jesus, walking on the waters, that is, over the powers of evil, and he says to his disciples: ‘Take heart; it is I. Do not be afraid.’”
He said Jesus is saying the same thing to us today: “‘Do not be afraid. I have put your enemies under my feet’ — not people! — not that type of enemy, but death, sin, the devil.”
Pope Francis also drew attention to the words uttered by St. Peter as he began to sink into the lake while walking on the water toward Jesus.
“Peter walks a little way out on the waters toward Jesus, but then gets frightened. He sinks and then cries out: ‘Lord, save me!’” the pope said.
“This prayer is beautiful,” he added. “It expresses the certainty that the Lord can save us, that he conquers our evil and our fears. I invite you to repeat it now all together, three times: ‘Lord, save me! Lord, save me! Lord, save me!’”
Francis pointed out that after calling on Jesus for help, the second thing the disciples do is welcome him into the boat.
“The Lord knows that the boat of our life, as well as the boat of the Church, is threatened by headwinds, and that the sea on which we sail is often turbulent. The Lord knows,” he said.
“He does not spare us the hard work of sailing, rather — the Gospel highlights — he pushes his disciples to depart. He invites us to face difficulties so they too might become salvific places,” he said. “Jesus conquers them so that they become opportunities to meet him. In fact, in our moments of darkness, he comes to meet us, asking to be welcomed like that night on the lake.”
“So, let us ask ourselves: How do I react when I am afraid, when I have difficulty?” Francis said. “Do I go ahead alone, with my own strength, or do I call on the Lord with faith? And what is my faith like? Do I believe that Christ is stronger than the adversarial waves and winds? But above all: Am I sailing with Jesus? Do I welcome him, make room for him in the boat of my life, never alone, always with Jesus. Do I hand the helm over to him?”