Tuesday, October 5, 2010

Blog 74 - A FAITH

BLOG 74 - A FAITH In the Gospel of Luke 17: 5 the apostles said to Jesus, ""Increase our faith". The Lord replied, "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. In response to this reading I thought it would be good to share a few reflections about faith. First of all faith has to do with truth. To have faith in its strict sense is one of the two ways we have of acquiring truth. The second is experience. They can be illustrated anecdotally this way. A mother tells her little four-year old son to keep away from the stove because it is hot and if he touches it it will burn him. If he believes her he will know the stove is hot and he will know that if he touches it it will burn him. On the other hand he can discover the same truth in the experience of touching the stove and burning himself. In the case of experience we acquire truth first hand. In the case of faith we acquire truth through the experience of another by way of his or her testimony to his or her experience of the truth. The request of the apostles to Jesus that He increase their faith can have a twofold application. First the question applies to the content of their faith, as for example if you were to ask a friend who just came back from a ski trip out in Aspen, Colorado whether the snow is still good for skiing, how much are the hotels charging for rooms, and how long did it take you to drive there from here, the content of your friend's testimony and your faith will cover three items. The second application of the request for an increase in faith has to do with the degree of trust you have for the revealer or the degree of confidence you have in the revealer as a trustworthy witness, that he or she knows what he or she is talking about and is telling the truth, 'neither deceiving nor deceived'. Without perhaps actually thinking of the experience as an experience of faith, we do experience faith on a regular basis every day, as for example the report of the weather back in Augusta on the radio or TV when you are traveling out in California, the golf and baseball scores in the newspaper, the price of milk and vegetables in a local supermarket as printed in the advertisement that comes in the mail, or the witness of your watch to the time of day. In these and similar instances faith is useful due to the fact we do not have on our own the time, talent, money etc that would be needed to acquire the truth we are seeking. Faith is absolutely necessary, however, when it comes to some questions that are important to us but cannot be answered by our limited human experience, as for example the question of the existence of God, the divinity of Jesus, the infallible authority of the Church, the fact of eternal life, and the Presence of Jesus in the Eucharist. An important feature of faith is that it is not designed to be an end in itself, but rather you might say as a tool such as a hammer or a saw which derive their meaning and value for us in our response to them or our use of them. A hammer is really a hammer when it is hammering, a saw when it is sawing. So faith is really itself in the response we make to the content to what we believe. We believe God is real and really present, always and everywhere. We respond in prayer and worship. We believe in the mercy of God. We respond in our seeking and receiving forgiveness of our sins. Now with regard to the Gospel story in Luke. Do you think Jesus really meant it when He said that with faith you could tell a mulberry tree to uproot itself and be planted in the sea and it would obey you? My answer to that question is CERTAINLY! The catch is : WITH FAITH! IF God told us to do such a thing to a mulberry tree and we did it it would be done. Biblical scholars agree that Jesus said what He did as an extreme example of the power of faith and the trustworthiness of God, but also what He said is true. We can depend that much on God. We can believe God that strongly. God is ABSOLUTELY TRUSTWORTHY, including all we can imagine of trustworthiness and beyond. Confident in knowing this, martyrs in the history of the Church joyfully gave up their lives in testimony to the truth of what they believed.

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