How strong is your faith?
Can anyone here move mountains or uproot trees with their faith?
There are observable signs, indications easily seen by others,
that give witness to the presence of faith
and also denote the degree, the level, the quality of one’s faith.
One sign is repentance which entails recognition of sin and rejection of sin….
turning away from that which is hostile to God and toward that which is acceptable to God.
Another observable sign is obedience.
The external hearing of God’s word, His precepts and commands, becomes true hearing,
when appropriation of God’s will is signified in and by obedience.
A lack of repentance and a lack of obedience indicates a lack of and the absence of faith.
Obedience to God is more than external observance of divine precepts and commands.
It is more than executing our Catholic rituals with precision and pious devotion.
The Jews were experts in this type of external obedience.
One of the reasons people in the Galilean cities of Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum
showed no interest in Jesus’ ministry
was because he challenged their understanding that external observance of the Law was salvation.
Following external rules and regulations
does not cleanse a person from the sin that hides in the human heart.
And this is what Jesus came to do.
Real faith, authentic faith, genuine faith
is not possible until the Spirit of God makes his way into our hearts
and confronts our desires for those things that are contrary to the love of God:
fornication and adultery where an irresistible feeling takes control,
captivates the human will….the violation of chastity;
theft which is unlawful taking, depriving others of what is lawfully theirs;
avarice…an excessive and insatiable desire for wealth and gain. In other words, greed;
wickedness…that which corrupts purity of heart and perfection in love….
the violation of sanctity and sacredness…desecration and dishonor;
deceit…which is to cheat, to ensnare, to be false, to mislead, to delude, to beguile;
envy…a feeling of resentment when advantage is enjoyed by another
along with a desire to possess the same advantage;
Here are some external signs of inner sinful dispositions: insult, mistreatment, scorn, contempt,
verbal and/or physical violence, cruelty, lewdness, threat,
lack of discipline, provocation, lavishness, over-indulgence.
The ministry, the work of Jesus, is not a matter of getting us to conform to pious practices.
The work of Jesus occurs in the secret places of our hearts,
freeing us from the corruption of sin, from what defiles us.
The work of Jesus is to purify us from evil in the truest sense of the word.
If and when we come to the conclusion that a lack of conformity to pious practices is evil,
and that our Christian mission in life is to get others to conform, I believe we have missed the boat.
The Christian disciple seeks a life lived under the influence of God’s Spirit….
an outer life and an inner life….external and internal.
The mission of the Catholic Church is more than external compliance to Church teaching.
The mission of the Catholic Church is to continue the work of Jesus…
to confront and challenge the sinful desires and wicked pursuits of the human heart.
Those who accept this mission will, like Jesus, experience hostility and rejection
even from those who claim the name of Christian.
Today’s prayer: “O Lord, through Your Spirit, continue the work of Your Son Jesus in our hearts. Shine the light of truth into the recesses of our inner lives. Dispel the darkness that hides there with the light of Your love. Guide us away from all wickedness. Direct us toward that which brings eternal life and eternal peace. Amen!”
26th Week in Ordinary Time
How strong is your faith?