I believe we are a nation of people who has lost faith in institutions. We have seen the data proving the lack of trust in the government, the media, and politicians. Even the church has it problems since recent data shows a trust factor of 44%. Have we become nation of skeptics who will only believe things we can prove or can verify?
Where does that leave us in issues of faith? What we accept on faith is critical to how we live our lives as disciples. Much of what we believe as Catholics cannot be proven or at times explained in a way that anyone can really understand. Think of the many times you have heard someone try to explain the trinity by using shamrocks? Really! A shamrock is still one plant not three distinct plants on one stem.
How can we prove the resurrection? We cannot but we believe it on the word of those who witnessed his presence among them after his death. We accept it from those who have encountered the living Christ in their lives today. How can we prove the assumption of Mary or Elijah? How can we prove the real presence of Christ in the Eucharist? How can we prove heaven or hell exist?
If we admit it, we cannot prove any of those doctrines but for those of us who believe it is not a blind faith that motivates us. We know the reality of God because he is constantly revealing himself to us. We see him and feel his presence in creation, in the face of a new born child, in those who minister in hospice, in the love of a spouse and in the bravery of those who risk their own lives to save others.
We who seek him will find him and when we do we encounter the reality of forgiveness and mercy. It is in God’s plan for us to know first and foremost his love, mercy and his desire for us to live in the peace of his kingdom and not in the cynicism of this world. If we need proof then seek him you will find him and you will know that nothing we experience in this world – financial ruin, the loss of a child, foreclosure on our property, rejection, cancer, loneliness, can ever shake our faith in the love God has for us.
When we encounter him we will be amazed at the things God can do and desires to do within us and around us. This is the challenge for us who have faith and believe in his promises – conveying this faith to others whose trust in God is in crisis.
Paul tells us …faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 11:1). Yet faith in action is more than hope. Faith allows you to see the unbelievable happening before your eyes. It is that walking on water moment in our lives when we trust God to do the unbelievable within us and around us. I would love to tell you of all the miracles I have witnessed in my life because God invited me to open my heart to his presence. I have seen miracles of healing, conversion and restoration in countless men, women and children because someone with faith prayer for those things.
However, the greatest miracle I have ever encountered was when I felt his forgiveness. I have had the arms of a loving God enfold me as he did the prodigal son and healed all in me that needed healing.
I have come to understand like Paul how God allows us to go along our journey rejecting him but he is always waiting for that moment when our guard is down to reveal himself to us. I have also come to understand that faith grows and it is possible to change our faith from a belief in the things not seen to a belief that we know God always is with us. Abraham had that encounter with God at the birth of his son Isaac. Abraham also had faith in God as he prepared to sacrifice Isaac. I had my moments in Sacred Heart Church in Bennington, Vermont; I have had that experience at a conference on my knees waiting to receive the Eucharist in Rutherford, N. J., and I have had that experience praying with others for God to touch them.
If you have had one of those moments go back in your prayer and relive it frequently. It is those relived mountain top experiences that reinforces the truth of God’s promise to be with us and never abandon us. If you have not had one of those experiences, then be like those we hear in today’s gospel be attentive in prayer for the master is coming to you.
I invite you to attend an Alpha Course or a Discovering Christ Course, go to a men’s or woman’s fellowship, go someplace where people are expectantly waiting for the master’s touch. Then open yourself up to that touch and feel the love of God poured into your heart.
It is then you will learn that faith can grow and you will move mountains and witness the glory of God in your life.