Fr Noel's Homilies

Buzzword - Faith
Each Sunday in these reflections, I try to pinpoint a facet of a Christian response to life's situations. The rock bottom basis of any such response must be faith; not just a belief in the existence of God as creator of the world and lord of all, but a living faith that unites us to that God through the teachings of Christ. Today's readings focus our attention on this Faith in God reaching its fulfillment in Christ.

Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4 - Discouraged by the misfortunes that have overtaken the Chosen People, the Prophet asks the Lord -"Have you abandoned us"? The Lord replies that better days are ahead; fulfillment will come, and in the meantime, -"the upright man will live by his faithfulness".

2 Timothy 1:6-8; 13-14 - Paul advises Timothy, to whom he has entrusted new responsibilities of leadership, to remain faithful to Christ despite the criticism and opposition that he will encounter.

Luke 17:5-10 - In this short lesson given by Christ to His apostles, He recommends that they have an unwavering faith in Him, and that this faith should express itself in unlimited service.

Point 1: - No doubt you will have noted the change in attitudes by the various religious Faiths to each other in recent years. Now, with rare exceptions, the leaders meet with each other, pray together and, even issue joint statements. In times of crisis, such as we are currently experiencing, this recognition of a central belief in God receives even greater emphasis. When reading passages released to the press from the last wills of three of the men who hijacked the planes in America and trying to understand the mentality of the current crop of "suicide" bombers, one cannot help but be impressed by the references to their belief in God and their belief in an eternal reward for their actions. All of which makes me wonder - at what point does Faith become Fanaticism? For my part, the question is too hard and I leave it to God to sort it!

Point 2: But there are some conclusions that I can draw from this apparent contradiction, namely, that faith is integral to the human make-up, and , without doubt, religious faith is one of the greatest motivating forces known to people. In its truest form, religious faith has as its goal the practice of goodness; although it must be admitted that, like all powerful tools, it does get used for other purposes - aggrandisement and political power, amongst others. Great civilisations have developed from deep seated religious faith just as great civilisations have disintegrated with the loss of their religious roots.

Conclusion: For Christians, our faith is that which unites us with God through the person of Jesus Christ, God Incarnate. Herein lies the fundamental difference between the religious faith of Christians and other religious faiths - for the Christian, God not only created the world, but, in the person of Christ, gave to it the opportunity to recreate itself after the disaster of sin. His death and Resurrection have set the world the eternal question - "Why did God become Man"? No one has explained that away; some try to rationalise it; others deny it. But the belief that He did continues to inspire and to motivate people and to challenge them to ask of themselves - "What is it that God wants of me"? And the answer is given to us in the golden rule -"Do unto others as you would have done unto yourself". In the meantime we draw on this inexhaustible source of help, our faith, for strength.

Scriptural reference: From the end of the earth I call to you, when my heart is faint. Lead me to the rock that is higher than I (Psalm 61: 2)