…..from your Pastor’s Desk:
When I was a teenager in the 60’s and early 70’s there were two phrases I frequently used; ‘Outta-sight’ and ‘Keep the Faith’. I still use the second one but with a different application. It used to not have a religious connotation at all but now when I say it – I mean it literally…Keep The Faith! When we speak of a ‘person of faith’ we usually mean they have and live by deep religious conviction. In that sense then, what is faith?
The best definition of faith is surely the scriptural definition. And this scriptural definition is right here in St. Paul’s letter to the Hebrews which we just heard as today’s second reading. Paul says: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” In other words, we are called to ‘Keep the Faith’ in things that are ‘Outta-Sight’…
It is counter-cultural to live that way. The world tells us not to have faith in anything, to accept only what you can touch, taste, smell, measure and control. Suspend your beliefs and don’t accept anything else. What we can control is the big issue as far as the secular world is concerned. But can anyone really live that way? Not to have faith? Can an atheist live that way? Well, not really.
Let me explain: People with no religion at all -still live by faith. So, they cannot claim they have no need of faith. It would be like saying you don’t believe in air and therefore have no need for it. And then take your next breath.
Faith is all around us. But not always in the religious sense. You cannot enter into marriage and not live in faith that it is the right decision and the right person to marry. You cannot tell someone that you really love them unless you first have faith in them. You cannot buy a home appliance or a car and not have faith it will perform as promised. You cannot drive on our highways without having faith in the competence of the drivers of those vehicles you will either meet or pass. You can’t even buy groceries without having faith in those who both produced the food and those who have marketed it for you.
You cannot live and not have faith. Faith is not something that belongs only to Religion, it belongs to everyday living. Because each and every day we take risks and act on probabilities and I am not talking about the Stock Market! Hardly ever do we act on certainties. We take risks in depending upon the decisions of others, never knowing with certainty what the outcomes will be.
Even scientists operate on theories, the ‘Theory of Evolution’ being just one of them. Rarely does science give us proofs, proofs that last anyway – because as more is discovered then theories and proofs expand and change.
Our greatest American leaders have presented us with leadership based on faith. It was faith that motivated George Washington and the founders of our nation. Our Declaration of Independence is a document based on faith. Abraham Lincoln led us through one of the darkest nights in our nation’s history basing his vision solely on faith. If you read writings of Abraham Lincoln, you will find yourself reading some of the most faith-filled thoughts you will ever encounter. It was Lincoln who said to the American people:
“Let us have faith that right makes might, and in that faith let us, to the end, dare to do our duty.”
What I am saying is that to live out life on this tiny little speck in the cosmos, this little blue dot in the Milky Way, this third rock from the sun, is to live in faith, to live in a wondrous adventure. And we do it all the time.
To graduate from school having chosen a career and to enter into it with all your heart and all your wit is one of life’s greater acts of faith. As is to enlist in the military, especially now with multiple war-fronts. To get married and have children is a profound act of faith. To enter each day that God gives us with hope and expectancy that we will do good and make the world a little bit better for those around us is a tremendous act of faith. And to die, going forth from this life without knowing exactly where we are going… except into the hands of God, is our ultimate act of faith.
Everywhere throughout life people live in the confident assurance that what they hope for will one day come to be Keeping Faith in that which is Out of our Sight. Every day we live with convictions about things that are not yet seen. Living ‘On Earth as it is in Heaven’ is to find what we believe in here in this life.
To be realistic, however, we must pay attention to the fact that a good deal of our recent history attacks our faith. Some of us have been betrayed and betrayed by people in our lives that we trusted, all of which erodes our basic need to believe in others.
Life can seem unfair and bad things do happen to good people. And yes, many people are unreliable. But, for all that’s wrong in life, in our world, and in others, we cannot afford to give up, to stop believing, and to lose faith.
Jesus knew that back then and He knows that right now, which is why Christ presents Himself to us in the Bread of Life. He comes to us, after all, in faith, placing Himself in Holy Communion in our very hands with the belief in His heart that we will accept Him in love, and with a firm purpose to live as He would have us live.
Yes, this world belongs to God. We are His people and He is our God. And yes, God has given us the dignity and the responsibility of working with Him to bring the world to completion, to wholeness and to that unity in which He made it to exist, and us in it, in the first place.
For God, you see, has made a tremendous act of faith… in you. God believes in you enough to give you the freedom to choose His love, the freedom to choose to accomplish His work, the freedom to do good.
For God, you see, Loves us and has faith in us. As do all the angels and saints. As do all who pray for and with us around the world. How comforting it is to know that others have faith in us. How tremendously comforting it is to know that God Himself trusts us, has high hopes for us, and believes in us. What a fantastic honor it is to realize that when we receive Holy Communion, God our Father believes in us enough to put His only begotten Son- into our hands.
Faith is forever an adventure in living, an adventure in which God Himself lives and wants to share with us.