Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Faith
In the Gospels, Christ constantly emphasises two qualities that will characterise His disciples - Love and Faith. He makes forty-four references to the need to love; and there are 32 references to Faith. All of our readings today emphasise this need for Faith in formulating a Christian response to life.

Deut: 4:32-34;39-40 Here our attention is drawn to the eternal nature of God and the divine wisdom reflected in the work of creation of which humanity is the crowning jewel.

Romans 8:14-17: Throughout the whole of the letter to the Romans, St. Paul continues to repeat his belief that when a person is baptised and receives the Holy Spirit, a very real relationship is formed with God, a relationship that he compares to that of father and son.

Matt. 28:16-20: Throughout His public ministry, Jesus constantly told His followers that He expected them to be witnesses to Him. Now He expresses that expectation as a command - "Go, teach all nations...."

Point 1: The minute one mentions Faith, conflict arises in the minds of many people. There is the conflict between faith and science, although many more are coming to the realisation that they deal with different aspects of the "Truth". Then there is the problem of recurring doubt - am I deceiving myself, or worse, am I being deceived? Also, there are the doubts suggested by life around us - why is it that people without faith seem to have a better time of it that those who have faith? How to reconcile the cruelty of the world with the proclaimed Goodness of God? For those, however, who profess to be disciples of Christ, Faith is a necessary ingredient in their overall understanding of life. For Christians, Faith means that gift of the Spirit that enables them to accept the existence and the teaching authority of Christ, True God and True Man, as a basis for responding to life's situations. In today's western society involving, as it does, such cross-cultural interests, this is not an easy decision. Indeed, recent surveys reveal that peoples' belief in God are in decline. Fewer now have faith in a personal God; although many still acknowledge that they are "spiritual" rather than "religious".

Point 2: As we celebrate the 2009th anniversary of Christ, whilst many are still aware of the historical Christ, only a minority believe that he is the Son of God; instead they think of him as just an unusual man, or a nice story. In the minds of many, there are residual beliefs - the influence of evil in society; a belief in sin; the existence of the devil, although fewer believe in Hell; approximately half of those interviewed still believe in Heaven, and even less believe in the essential Christian doctrine of the resurrection of the body.

The gift of Faith does not come without effort, for, although the seeds of Faith are gratuitously implanted by the Holy Spirit at Baptism, like all seeds, they need to be nurtured if they are to grow to fruition. One thing certain, it is not simply a "funny, inward, feeling", a FIF, nor does it entirely depend upon reason. The nurturing process involves contact with historical reality. There is the reality of drawing upon Judaism for its roots; this contact is reinforced by the emergence of Christ and His claim to be the Messiah; this, in turn, is followed by the emergence of the Church - the community of God's People. Each person has to make his or her own decision about these realities.

Conclusion: Many factors influence one's decision - education, family environment, social encounters. Through acceptance, one finds a message of explanation of life, of history, of good and evil, of death, of the Supreme Being. In other words, Faith really is trying to see reality with God's eyes. In dealing with the difficulties of being a person of Faith in today's secular world, one should not be too concerned if doubts sometimes enter into one's thinking. The great Saints all experienced crises of Faith and came to realise that a Faith challenged can lead to a fuller Faith and to a greater degree of confidence.

Scriptural reference: [1 Cor 2:14] Those who are unspiritual do not receive the gifts of God's Spirit, for they are foolishness to them, and they are unable to understand them because they are spiritually discerned. Those who are spiritual discern all things, and they are themselves subject to no one else's scrutiny. For who has known the mind of the Lord so as to instruct him?" But we have the mind of Christ.