The readings today focus on faith and clearly challenge us to have faith in all we do. The concept of faith is interesting. We sometimes speak of faith and having faith as though it is a commodity. For some, the faith is there when things are going the way they want. However, it appears to me that the testing of faith is when we are not always getting “our way.”
The first reading speaks of the fear experienced by Araz in face of very real threats to himself and his rule. Yet, Isaiah is to tell him to remain tranquil, that this, too, shall pass. Araz is told that “Unless your faith is firm, you shall not be firm!” The message was not don’t worry, tomorrow everything will be fine. It was a message of testing faith, when many years have passed, the situation will not be as it is now. I think true faith requires such believing without immediately seeing the results you want. The responsorial psalm reminds us over and again that “God upholds his city forever.” Again, it is imperative to believe regardless of what is happening.
The gospel calls us to task for not changing behavior in light of seeing great deeds. The old adage that “seeing is believing” apparently did not hold true for these cities. They were not even asked to have “blind faith” – they experienced the living word and the wondrous possibilities and yet, did not believe or change their ways. We have opportunities everyday to repent and change our lives. Every day is a new chance to embrace the world through God’s eyes and accept the love of Jesus is all we do. But, too often, I fear, I acknowledge the wonders but do not change me! For all the love and care that Jesus shows us, we will not experience true peace and serenity eternally without change in us. We are challenged to repent and to demonstrate faith in all we do.
In some ways, this idea of faith is like the love we share here in this world. It is easy to love our children and spouse when all is well. When we speak and the children listen and obey, how easy it is for us to love them. The challenge comes when all is not well! Do we maintain that love (unconditionally) regardless of the behaviors? Do we separate our concern for the rudeness or other bad behavior from the love that we continue to have for that person? Simply put, I think faith is like that. Faith is the belief in what you don’t see and continuing to believe even when things are falling apart around you. It is trusting when adverse events occur shaking our very beings. Trust and faith are so closely connected. As parents we trust our children to do the right things even when we are not there. However, if our trust of them only lasts while they are in our sight, we fall short of a real trusting attitude. Under our watchful eye, of course, we can expect appropriate behavior. We trust, we believe, we have faith, when we don’t know the outcome but accept and embrace that it will be the right outcome.
The serenity that I see in some people can only come from this true faith and trust in the Lord. The peace that they exude is there regardless of the circumstances. It is evident in good and bad times. It is evident in both their prayers of petition and prayers of thanksgiving regardless of immediate outcomes, that they are one with the Lord. That kind of success outweighs all the rest. It is something to aim for and cherish.
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