"I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me."
An atheist, holding a discussion with an old believer said, “How can you prove to me that there is a God?” “Oh,” said the old man, “I don’t need to prove it. I was talking to Him myself this morning!”
The values of the consumer society with its idols of wealth and power constitute a real danger to the Christian believer. They gradually coarsen the mind and the sensitivity of the believer. We grow accustomed to the easy life and the pursuit of material goals. Ambition and reward become the inspiration of our lives.
Faith is a precious gift: we need to nourish it and live it with conviction. We cannot neglect the task of deepening and supporting the faith of all believers. The overall aim of the Association of the Holy Family founded by Pierre Bienvenu Noailles was to spread and strengthen the faith.
Faith is a question of putting our trust in God’s word. The disciples on the road to Emmaus recognised the Lord when he broke bread: it was a moment of truth, of special grace. The person of faith will discover God in life’s realities, in day-to-day happenings in persons we meet, places we visit, in nature around us – in stillness and silence (Es 14:14; Zech 2:13; Is 3:15; ), in thunder and lightning (Exod 19).
It is in Nazareth that God revealed himself in the most common, ordinary, unknown, hidden way. Here is where Mary and Joseph lived their pilgrimage of faith. Even before the little Family of Nazareth was formed, Elizabeth said Mary was blessed because ‘she believed in the promises’. (See Luke 1:45) Joseph is described as ‘a just man’ (Mt 1:19), and the Bible says ‘the just man lives by faith’.
There has to be constant interaction between culture, faith and tradition. Local believing communities must now seek to understand the one Christian faith in the particularities of their own time and place.
Believing is a process: “We have come to believe in Christ Jesus” (Gal 2:16b) “His disciples began to believe…” Throughout the Gospels, faith was a pre-condition for healing. When somebody approached Jesus for healing, he asked the sick person if he/she believed. There are some beautiful instances of healing recorded in the Gospels. The Blind Bartimaeus put his request very simply – “Lord, let me see again!” The struggling faith of the pagan Centurion drew from Jesus the beautiful comment: “Not even in Israel have I found such faith.” (Lk 7:9)
How strong is your faith? In Morris West’s book ‘The Clowns of God’ Carl Mendelius’ son, Johann says, “Father, I’m no longer a believer.” His father replies, “If you cannot honestly assent to a faith then you must not… But remember one thing, son. Keep your mind open, so that the light can always come in. Keep your heart open so that love will never be shut out.”
Secularism, pluralism and the values of the consumer society tend to weaken our faith. We gradually grow accustomed to the easy life and the pursuit of material goods. Science would have us believe that the created world has no connection with religion or with God. This is not a new phenomenon. In the Hebrew scriptures the writer asks:
“If they had the power to know so much
that they could speculate about the world,
why were they so slow in finding its Creator?” (Wisdom 13:9).
In a sense, faith is a leap in the dark. The story is told of a little boy who stood at the window of a house on fire. As the smoke gathered around him he was no longer able to see. His father pleaded with him to jump, but he said “I can’t see you, Daddy!” “But”, the father replied “I can see you.”
In ‘Shadowlands’ by William Nicholson, Lewis’ friend, Harrington, in an effort to help him come to terms with the loss of his wife, Joy, says: “It’s only faith that makes any sense of times like this.”.
When our faith is wavering, it is consoling to remember that we were all included in Jesus’ prayer for his disciples: “I pray not only for them (the disciples) but for all those who through their word will believe in me.” (Jn 17:20). Trusting in that prayer of Jesus, let us go forward with renewed faith and trust.
“May Christ dwell in your heart through faith. May you have power to understand what is the breadth and length, and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge.” (See Eph 3: 17-19)
Lord, I believe in your constant love and care for me. Increase my faith, that I may recognise you whenever you visit me, especially in the poor and lonely, those who suffer and those beaten down once too often and who seem to have lost faith in humankind. I pray for those who no longer believe - that they may remain open to your truth and your love. Deepen our faith, Lord, that we may see all of life through your eyes. Amen