Today we see the theme of faith emerge in all the readings at mass. We remember times perhaps when people said to us: “come on, have some faith.” Or perhaps…. “Keep the faith.” We may even know someone called Faith. BUT what is faith?
Faith is something I believe we are born with. It is a belief, a trust or confidence in something greater. It seems to come naturally to us. It can be nurtured and grow, or we can work against it. I can convince myself I have no faith… but is that really true? Faith is not reliant on feelings. When I feel good I seem to have faith, but when I am down I don’t feel anything. The existence of Faith can’t be dependent on feelings however. It is much greater than this. It is either there all the time or it isn’t. It is often in these difficult times that I really show my faith even though I can’t feel it.
If God created us, and created us to spend eternity with Him, will He not have put a yearning in our hearts for Him? How else can we come to know Him. Will He not have given us faith to see beyond what’s in front of us? I believe this is what St Augustine meant when he said “our hearts are restless until they rest in you O Lord.” I believe we have faith or a sense of the divine in us. We have a desire within us for the good. We want to be good people. We seek God all the time, remaining restless, if we look in the wrong places, or trust in the wrong things.
A priest friend of mine was on a plane recently and they started to feel some turbulence. The man beside him turned to him, and told him that he had no faith. He said he did not believe. My priest friend told him that he actually did have faith. He told him that he was on a plane 33,000 feet in the air trusting that the pilot knew what he was doing, trusting that the pilot did not have a liquid lunch, trusting that the mechanics had done a good job. He was either crazy or he had some faith. To keep going, to get out of the bed in the morning, we need faith. It may not seem like it at the time but it does require faith. We know what we should do. We often hear people say “don’t worry, it will all work out.” We seem to know there is something more, that a greater power is at work in the World.
In today’s first reading I’m reminded of myself and my own struggle with faith. Like myself, I see the Israelites moaning. Even though God has freed them from slavery, has parted the Red Sea and performed many wonders, they are thirsty in the desert, so they start moaning. Mad as it may sound, they actually want to go back and be slaves again in Egypt, even though they have been praying for years, and moaning to be released. Let’s be honest – we are like that aren’t we? It is easy to believe when all is well, but we struggle when things don’t go as planned. This is why Abraham is one of the great figures of faith in the Bible. He left everything to follow God and was told he would be the Father of many children, that his children would outnumber the stars in the sky. His wife wasn’t able to conceive however, so it seemed impossible. Years and years passed and nothing happened, he became an old man, and his wife was taken captive. How was he going to be a father of many nations now? Abraham suffered and suffered, but he continued to keep going. He trusted God though it cost him much. God, as always, kept his promise. God, as always, had a plan. Abraham and his wife Sarah had a child called Isaac. Abraham did become the father of many nations, as promised, and his children today, including Christians, Jews and Muslims account for over two-thirds of the world’s population, and call Abraham the Father of their Faith.
Jesus tells the woman at the well that if you drink the water He gives you, you will never thirst again. Jesus is the answer for all our needs. He says Himself that He is the WAY. He is the TRUTH. He is the LIFE. If we follow Him, follow His way, we will go down the right path to joy, peace and happiness in this life. If we do what He tells us we will discover that He is indeed the truth. His words will set us free. If we put Him in our hearts we will discover that He indeed does give us life. We will be free. Let us try hard to keep going this Lent, and to nurture the faith within us. Let us fan that flame that is already within us, with acts of love and charity and prayer. Let us walk in the light of faith, bearing witness to others by believing the last line of today’s Gospel:
“we have heard Him ourselves and we know that He really is the saviour of the World.”