- Agnes Raj
"The wind blows where it will, and you can hear the sound it makes, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes; so it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit”(Jn3:8). Faith is like the wind. One cannot see the wind, but it is there. So it is with faith: we believe in a God we do not see. Faith is a gift from God. It leads us to God. It deepens our relationship with God. Both in times of blessings and in times of extreme trials it is faith that sustains us.
In the words of St Augustine, “Faith is to believe what you do not see; the reward of this faith is to see what you believe.” For Augustine, a great saint, it might be easy to believe what he cannot see. But for an ordinary person like me how is it possible? As I was pondering over these words of St. Augustine the image of Mother Mary came to my mind. She is a great example of unconditional faith. Her faith was similar to the trust Abraham showed when God tested him to sacrifice Isaac (Genesis 22:2). God did not reveal all that He had in mind for Abraham; neither Mary knew when she said “Yes” to God. To have faith like Mary we have to believe. Without belief there is no faith. St. John Paul wrote of Mary, “Hers was a daring faith … [because] at the Annunciation she believed in what was humanly impossible… Mary teaches Christians to live their faith as a demanding and engaging journey, which in every age and situation of life requires courage and constant perseverance.” Today, God calls each of us to follow Mary’s example of believing the impossible.
God’s Word is the basis of our faith. His Word is absolutely trustworthy, in fact more trustworthy than the things of this world. One must, by way of surrender, have total confidence in His Word. This kind of belief is a gift from God. The person who has this gift will usually be prayerful, trusting, hopeful, will have a positive attitude, and have a deep relationship with God. Doesn’t the Bible present such people as examples to us: the Centurion (Mt.8:5-13), the Woman with Hemorrhage (Lk 8:43-48), the Blind Man from Jericho (Lk 18:35-43) …? All these people believed in the Word of the Lord. In our day to day life, when our faith and hope are put to test let us not blame others or be depressed or get angry, rather believe the words of Jesus: ”Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God” (Jn 14).
Faith expects that we carry through the instructions of Jesus. In Luke chapter 5, Peter and his crew worked all night yet they did not catch any fish. Peter, as a professional fisherman, knew the sea. Yet, at the words of Jesus he lowered the net into the deep waters and there was the miraculous catch of fish. This is trust and humility and his faith in the words of Jesus.
Faith is giving thanks. When Jesus traveled through Samaria and Galilee, ten lepers asked him to be healed and when they received healing only one returned to thank Jesus (Lk 17:11-19). The other nine were not ungrateful but they were not humble enough to give thanks and praise. Faith finds its expression in gratitude.
Faith is having a close relationship with God. A relationship that is the bedrock of all that we do and experience during the day. Faith sustains us both in our joys and in our sorrows. Faith enables us to be aware of God’s presence in our daily lives: in a hug from our child, in a brief conversation with our spouse, in time spent with a friend, in completing a project … When we have faith, God will inspire us to respond in the most Christian way to what life throws at us.
Faith strengthens our commitment to share it with others. We can share our faith by reading, praying, and reflecting on the Bible with others in our family, with our colleagues at work, and people in our neighborhood. Faith-sharing gatherings enable us to live our spiritual lives to their full potential. Another way to share our faith is by being an example to others. We witness to a life of faith when we stay positive and have a good attitude even in the midst of a crisis in our life. We will bear witness to faith when we treat people with respect and dignity, when we are a blessing to others, and in our readiness to forgive others.
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead” (Jas 2:14-17). Faith requires action. If it doesn’t move us to do something or say something, it’s not really faith at all. We must put our faith into action. We can put our faith into action for example by donating to a charity that serves those in need, by supplying spiritual reading materials for the jail ministry, honoring the living or deceased by donating in their name, volunteering at St. Vincent de Paul, helping out in a food pantry or in a nursing home, being involved in a social cause…
Faith is a gift from God. At a general audience, the Holy Father called on Catholics to "ask ourselves whether we really have taken some steps to know Christ and the truth of faith better by ... by receiving the sacraments regularly." Praying on a regular basis, participating in regular Mass, spending time in the adoration, frequenting the sacrament of reconciliation, practicing the traditional Catholic devotions such as novenas, processions, participating in celebrations in honor of Mary and the other saints, praying the rosary, the Angelus, the Stations of the Cross, the veneration of relics, and the use of sacramentals … all these will help us to continue to live our life of faith. Study is also an excellent means of growing in faith. Faith is a muscle; one has to strengthen it by exercising and stretching it. It consists in making that effort to turn everything and our entire life over to God.
Prayer for faith:
"Lord, I believe: I wish to believe in Thee. Lord, let my faith be full and unreserved, and let it penetrate my thought, my way of judging Divine things and human things. Lord, let my faith be joyful and give peace and gladness to my spirit, and dispose it for prayer with God and conversation with men, so that the inner bliss of its fortunate possession may shine forth in sacred and secular conversation. Lord, let my faith be humble and not presume to be based on the experience of my thought and of my feeling; but let it surrender to the testimony of the Holy Spirit, and not have any better guarantee than in docility to Tradition and to the authority of the magisterium of the Holy Church. Amen. (Ref: http://www.catholic.org)"