XXVII Sunday in Ordinary Time
6 October 2019
Cardinal Basil Hume was an English bishop and cardinal who died in 1999. On a visit to the monastery of St. Therese in Lisiuex, he noticed that she had scratched “Jesus is my only love” into the wood by the door of her cell … Commenting on that he wrote:
“That was not written in exaltation but in near despair. She was thus crying out to her Beloved that even when she experienced nothing but absence, emptiness, darkness, she clung to the assurance of being loved and carried in his arms. That is faith at a heroic level – that is trust, clinging to God when everything in our experience would seem to contradict his very existence, or at least his love for us.”
Written on a cellar wall in Cologne, Germany after WWII was found the following:
believe in the sun even when it is not shining.
I believe in love even when I feel it not.
I believe in God even when he is silent.
The request for faith – increase our faith – coming from the disciples is a response to the demands of forgiveness … Jesus had just finished saying: If your brother sins against you, rebuke him and forgive him … recognizing that this type of attitude toward one another would require a certain intensity, or strength, they ask for more faith … but they don’t get it. It is not that they need more faith but rather to understand that even a little faith enables God to work in a person’s life in ways that defy ordinary human experience. This is not about being able to perform miraculous tricks – like uprooting trees – but that it is entirely possible to live by God’s standards.
How often do we think the same way as the disciples … that we need more faith, a quantifiable measure, in order to endure life, to overcome difficulty, to forgive past hurts and grievances … How often do we base our faith in God in what we can get from Him? And when He doesn’t deliver … or when the Church, or our pastor doesn’t deliver … we give up? Do we too miss the point? What exactly do we believe in, what is the object of our faith? Remember 2 weeks ago I asked that very question – what is the object of our worship? If we collapse in times of stress, crisis, or despair … or when we don’t get what we want … in what or whom do we believe?
There are 2 dimensions to faith … first there is the object of faith and second, there is the human act of faith. In what or whom do we believe … Essentially God is the object of our faith … and the human act of faith is a choice … I choose to believe. Faith in one of the greatest struggles of Catholics – of believers … and why is that? We teeter on faith in ourselves and faith wholly in God. If we are to say that the object of our faith is indeed God, we then must come to believe that Jesus Christ is Lord and He Lord of our lives – and His teachings is preserved and passed on by means of His Church. This faith is the belief that God is FOR us … God is my help! If we do not believe this … if we teeter on a faith in ourselves and in our own abilities how great and difficult are the challenges of life and how helpless we become … Faith, even a faith that is weak, so long as it has God as its object, points us in the direction of Him … it gives us the necessary strength to follow, to conform our way to His, to trust in His goodness … Faith in God is not a crutch it is a way of life … it is not quantifiable rather it is relational and enables Him to work in our lives, to show Himself to us … in the midst of our ordinary human experience.