On Sunday Pope Francis repeated a message he often has, warning against putting one's trust in horoscopes and fortune telling rather than Christ, who is the only true security that gets us through times of trial and darkness.
Pointing to how Peter begins to sink when walking toward Jesus on the water in the day's Gospel reading, Francis noted that the same thing can happen to us when we put our trust in false securities. “When we do not cling to the Word of the Lord, but consult horoscopes and fortune tellers, we begin to sink,” the Pope said Aug. 13.
The episode, he said, serves as a reminder “that faith in the Lord and in his word does not open a path where everything is calm and easy; it does not take us away from the storms of life.” Rather, “faith gives us the security of a presence that pushes us to overcome the existential storms, the certainty of a hand that grabs us in order to help us in difficulties, showing the way even when it's dark.” “Faith, then, is not an escape from life's problems, but it supports on the journey and gives it meaning.”
Pope Francis spoke to pilgrims gathered in St. Peter's Square for his weekly Angelus address, focusing on the day's Gospel reading from Matthew, in which Jesus walks on water in the midst of a storm, and beckons Peter to come to him. Peter initially begins to walk toward Jesus, but starts to sink out of fear when he sees the waves, and cries out for Jesus to rescue him.
This episode, Francis said, has a lot of symbolism for both individuals, and for the Church as a whole. The boat can represent the life of each person, but also the life of the Church, he said, explaining that the wind signifies the “difficulties and trials” each will face. Peter's cry of “Lord, command me to come to you,” and then his plea “Lord, save me!” represent both our desire feel close to the Lord, and “the fear and anguish which accompany us in the most difficult moments of our lives and our communities, marked by internal fragility and external difficulty,” Francis said.
In the moment when he looked at the wind and the waves and began to fear, Peter wasn't founded on the Word of God, “which was like an outstretched rope to cling to in front of the hostile and turbulent waters.” The same thing happens to us when we put our faith in trivial, worldly securities, rather than in the Lord, he said.
Pope Francis said the passage is “a stupendous image” of the reality of the Church throughout the ages: “a ship which, along the crossing, must counter winds and storms which threaten to overwhelm it.” What saves the ship is not the courage and quality of it's men, he said, but rather, “the guarantee against a shipwreck is faith in Christ and in his word.” “On this ship we are safe, despite our miseries and weaknesses, above all when we get on our knees and adore the Lord” as the disciples did, who, after Jesus calmed the storm, prostrated themselves and said “truly you are the Son of God!”
To drive the point home, Francis had the crowd repeat the phrase, listening as they shouted “truly you are the Son of God” three times.
Francis closed his address asking that the Virgin Mary intercede in helping all to “stay firm in the faith in order to resist the storms of life, to stay on the boat of the Church, eschewing the temptation to go on amusing, yet insecure boats of ideologies, fashions and slogans.” He then led pilgrims in praying the traditional Marian prayer and greeted various groups of youth from around Italy before asking for prayer and giving his blessing.