View from the Monastery with Father Don, CP

What Is Faith?

In today’s Gospel Jesus’ Apostles ask that Jesus increase their faith. In a busy society like ours with so little time for religion and faith, a society which teaches that we are the captain of our ship, we are in charge, and we need “to have it our way…” where does faith fit into this scheme of daily reality?

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts

I looked up “faith” in the Catechism of the Catholic Church. The section on “faith”, Part One, begins on Page 13 and ends on Page 276.

Part One, The Profession of Faith. This treatment of our faith encompasses an in depth presentation of what we as Catholics believe… our Creed. But what caught my attention was the very first paragraph of this entire Part One.

It reads:

“We begin our profession of faith by saying: ”I believe” or “We believe.” Before expounding the Church’s faith, what we believe, as confessed in the Creed, celebrated in the liturgy, and lived in observance of God’s commandments and in prayer, we must first ask what “to believe” means.”

Let’s go back to the first centuries of the Catholic Church.

Theodore, Bishop of Mopsuestia in Cilicia (modern day SW Turkey) from 392-428, explained to his adult catechumens: When you say “I believe”, “pisteuo” in Greek, you say “I engage myself” before God, you show that you will remain steadfastly with God, that you will never separate yourself from God and that you will think it higher than anything else to be and to live with God and to conduct yourself in a way that is in harmony with God’s commandments…

In this first instant faith means: LOYALTY.

Faith is our response to God, who reveals God’s self and gives God’s self to us. Faith is not just what I believe… Rather it’s saying, “God, I’ll be loyal and committed to you.” Faith is a lifelong fidelity to our loving God who was first faithful and merciful to us by becoming one of us, Jesus… to save us from darkness and the chaos of sin. Faith is our response to God as we have discovered God in our lives.

This relationship with God, this loyalty to God, is the foundation of what we believe – and we profess that in our Creed… our belief in God our loving Father, in Jesus our Savior, and in God’s Spirit of Love now sent among us.

This relationship with God we celebrate in this Eucharist. We are taught by God’s Word, we offer ourselves with Jesus to our Father, we remember Jesus’ love poured out on the Cross as he encounters and bears the sins of our world out of love for us, and opens the gates to the Banquet of Life in our heavenly home to welcome us at the end of this life’s journey.

 We are invited by Jesus to come and be spiritually refreshed and strengthened in our Communion in which Jesus offers us his very body and blood… spiritual nourishment for our journey in this life.

This relationship with God we live out in our daily lives by following God’s commandments… doing God’s will – a God who loves us and cherishes us… Look at the way Jesus, our God’s human face, loved and cherished the people in his life. So many people were drawn to him as to a magnet, because of the way he loved and treated people. We are drawn to Jesus. We admire him, we cherish Jesus, we are devoted to Jesus… and therefore we strive to imitate Jesus in our world.

This relationship with God moves us to be people of daily prayer. God is important in our lives, and prayer is our daily lifting of our minds and hearts to God… or as Saint Teresa of Calcutta described it: prayer is making room for God in our hearts.

So, our faith is not just what we believe…

it is first and foremost our relationship with God, our relationship with Jesus and our fidelity/faithfulness/ loyalty to God, who is always faithful to us.

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts

Some questions to comsider…

Do I love and cherish my God and His very own Son and my brother Jesus?

Can I now hear Jesus in today’s Gospel challenging me to a stronger, more vibrant faith?

If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, “Be uprooted and planted in the sea,” and it would obey you?”

Does my God ask me to suffer because I follow God’s ways in what seems at times an ungodly world?

The American Bishops have asked us to be people who “Respect Life” – we are a faithful people who believe in the sacredness of life from womb to tomb. We are also discovering today that we need to respect and cherish our earthly home given to us by God.

I promise you that you will probably be misunderstood, made fun of and even persecuted for your stand on life… our faith call us to be loyal to our life giving God?

Have you heard the name Shabbaz Bhatti?…

Shabbaz was a Pakistani member of the Pakistan Congress, a Catholic, who was trying to repeal the Pakistani law against converting from Islam to Christianity… a law which was being used to persecute Catholics in Pakistan.

Listen to his words… “I have been asked to put an end to my battle, but I have always refused, even at the risk of my own life. My response has always been the same. I do not want popularity; I do not want positions of power. I only want a place at the feet of Jesus. I want my life, my character, my actions to speak of me and say that I am following Jesus Christ. This desire is so strong in me that I consider myself privileged whenever--in my combative effort to help the needy, the poor, the persecuted Christians of Pakistan-- Jesus should wish to accept the sacrifice of my life. I want to live for Christ and it is for Him that I want to die. I do not feel any fear in this country.”

Shabbaz was gunned down on a Pakistan street by radical Islamists on March 2, 2011… The Pakistani Bishops have asked that his cause for sainthood be introduced in the Vatican.

Do I ever suffer because of our faith? Am I willing to?

If today you hear his voice, harden not your hearts

Now can we understand Jesus’ reply to the request of his disciples? Increase our faith?

In this Eucharist we all need to get onto our knees and ask God to “increase our faith.” We all need to pray, “Jesus, increase my faith... my limp faith, my fatigued faith, my fearful faith, my asleep faith that stirs on this day, but slumbers during the week.”

How blessed we are to be able to go to Jesus with our request: Lord, increase our faith. Abide with us. Be our Good Shepherd. Build up our faith. Strengthen our relationship with you and with Our Father.

Lord we believe… help our unbelief.

Lord, I believe… help my unbelief.

Give us a deep, trusting, lively, loyalty to you and to my Loving

Father D.

Amen.

Joe Farris