Twenty-Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time C 2010

Faith makes an unperceived reality present to us; that is to say, faith allows us to recognize that in the midst of sin, death, disease, and poverty God remains with us.  Despite all appearances to the contrary, we are not abandoned because God is Emmanuel (God is with us)

As Catholics sometimes we place too much on the intellectual content of faith.  As children we learn the Catechism, the Bible, and at St. Boniface many learned church history from Fr. Teck.  But if faith is only intellectual, we could make excuses for having a lack of faith.  We could say, I was born with a defective set of genes, I do not have a master’s education, or I do not have time to study the great theological works of Augustine and Aquinas. 

Faith is partly a form of knowledge but not something we acquire.  It is not a matter of reading many great books or taking classes.  Faith is God’s knowledge implanted in us.  Many virtues are natural virtues like courage or justice.  We must work hard day after day to acquire these virtues.  For Aquinas, faith, hope, and love are not natural virtues; rather, they are supernatural gifts from God.  No amount of effort will entail their acquisition because they are God’s very presence within us.  When I was in high school I wanted to develop big muscles so I went to the weight room.  Acquiring the theological virtues is impossible on our own.

So if faith is a gift from God and there is nothing we can do to acquire it, why do the apostles have such weak faith?  Why do WE have such weak faith?  I was thinking of today’s Gospel as I was mowing off the pasture at the farm this week.  Seeds of all sizes and shapes were flying everywhere.  It hit me that the reason we have so little faith is that we are not used to receiving things for free.  If someone came to us on the street that we did not know and offered us a gift for nothing we would wonder what is in it for that person.  Is it a joke?  What does this person really want?  Maybe it’s hard for us to believe God wants to give us the theological virtues for free. 

God gave us the theological virtues which are like a superpowers.  Just as some superhero’s possess supersonic speed or other attributes, we have this superpower of faith but we have to exercise it.  If our faith is weak, it is because we are not putting the gift to work.  The people who are full of faith are too busy living it to notice there is any other way.  We think there is another way because discipleship is hard.  It means that we have to let go of our own knowledge or conception of the world and trust that God’s vision is bigger.  It means that we are that unsure prophet in today’s first reading because we sometimes blindly trust God when our instincts tell us otherwise.

Each of us has faith for that is why we are here.  May this Eucharist strengthen our faith so that we can put it into action.

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