Friday, January 7, 2011

A leap of faith

For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith.
 – 1 John 5:4

There came a man full of leprosy; and when he saw Jesus, he fell on his face and besought him, "Lord, if you will, you can make me clean." And He stretched out his hand, and touched him, saying, "I will; be clean." And immediately the leprosy left him.
 – Luke 5:12-13

Blue Heron nest

One of my readers, Ride, asked me a question about how to respond to non-believers. And especially those that mock the faith.

My answer was not to try to reason with them, but to ask them about their own personal experiences with religion and spirituality in their lives.

I'm not one that is attracted by the works of Christian apologists. They attempt to provide a rational argument for belief in Christ and His Church. There is nothing wrong with their arguments, but I don't think that faith can ever be acquired through reason.

In order to take the "leap of faith" we must be willing to stop clinging to our own personal egotistical belief systems, which prevent us from surrendering to God's will.

One of the temptations that Christ faced in the desert was to throw himself off of a precipice to prove that the angels would come to His rescue and keep Him from crashing to earth. Christ refused. Not because He had any doubt in the capacity of God's angels to save Him, but because it would have been a meaningless and self serving demonstration of His faith in God.

But at some point in our lives we all need to walk out on the precipice and let go of all our worldly attachments and allow ourselves to continue over the edge. Knowing that we are leaping into the loving and merciful arms of our Lord Jesus Christ.

And as we leap we need to say, "Jesus, I trust in You!" These are the words of Divine Mercy that were revealed to Sister María Faustina Kowalska. A simple nun with little education.

The hurdles and obstacles that stand in our way – that keep us from accepting the faith – are not rational ones. They may appear that way. And rational arguments may be successful in lowering some of those hurdles so that they are easier for us to clear.

But without a full act of submission to the power of God, those hurdles will always remain and we will constantly trip over the same unseen obstacles.

Picture a fledgling bird in the nest preparing to take its first flight. It has to trust in a power higher than itself that it will not go crashing to the ground. As it approaches the edge and looks down from a great height, it cannot help but feel a paralyzing fear.

The Virgin Mary was faced with such a moment when the archangel Gabriel appeared before her. Her response was to submit fully to God's will. She said, "I am the handmaid of the Lord." Which can also be translated as "I am the Lord's servant." (Luke 1:38)

Mary said "Yes." And her life was forever changed.

With faith, the hurdles and the obstacles disappear as we soar above them. They are still there, but they become irrelevant small specks in the distance below.

The only way to come to faith is through a personal acceptance of God in our lives. We must first understand how He is calling us. And then respond to that call. There are times in all of our lives when we have felt a closeness to God. It is a matter of recognizing those moments and events, and accepting them for what they are.

God has a plan for each and every one of us. We are all God's children. We are all called to greatness. Our lives are touched by His hand. He showers graces upon us.

5 comments:

  1. I had already written this article, and was at Mass today following my confession when I realized that the theme of the Mass readings was faith and that it would fit in perfectly with the title I had already chosen for this article, "A leap of faith".

    Actually the first quotation above, 1 John 5:4, is the verse just before the Mass reading. I had brought my Bible with me to Mass and was reading the verses in preparation and happened to glance at that verse.

    I must say that in the past I never read the Letters in the New Testament. So I was completely unfamiliar with this verse, but immediately fell in love with it:

    "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith."

    NOTE:

    I'm using the RSV (Revised Standard Version) translation. I have pretty much given up on the NAB (New American Bible) translation, which is promoted by the US Bishops. While NAB is generally more in tune with current English usage, I'm suspect about the accuracy of its translations. (One of the problems is that NAB has succumbed to the pressure to use gender neutral language.) I have the general impression that RSV preserves more accurately the original language of the scriptures, rather than attempting to re-interpret it in modern terms as NAB does.

    Here is the same verse, 1 John 5:4, from NAB for comparison:

    "for whoever is begotten by God conquers the world. And the victory that conquers the world is our faith."

    ReplyDelete
  2. "For whatever is born of God overcomes the world; and this is the victory that overcomes the world, our faith."

    Beautiful! That is what makes the difference, Faith. To be honest, deep in my heart I know that there is an almighty God. I can feel it in a way that cannot be described through reason, you have to experience it.

    I do understand atheism, but in my heart I cannot conceive it, makes no sense to me. Lately I have been challenged to meditate about whether God it is true or not, but for me it is like to deny the sun just by putting your hands in front of your eyes. That´s how I see it.

    Thank you for your answers by the way, there are as always are very helpful. The person that I want to deal with is someone that deeply rejects religion, but I don't want to start an ever ending argument about with him.

    His rejection towards Catholic church is strong and it is based in his atheistic beliefs. I wish he was able to see the miracles that has happened in my life, which many call luck. I have witnessed the power of the Rosary, faith and pray in my life and others.

    I'm not the one to judge anyone, because I'm far from being perfect. I just hope to find the strength to keep going.


    I pray for this world; life, our children and the future.

    God bless you!

    ReplyDelete
  3. Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year Michael. I wish you the best and I hope you keep on posting your great articles. Keep inspiring others to get closer and closer to God.

    I hope you can read/publish something about Catholics/Orthodox in Palestine. They are having a very hard time.

    I'll keep you in my prayers.

    ReplyDelete
  4. Hi Michael. Happy New Year!

    I like this post very much, I need more time to read the others I've missed.

    I'm having a tough time personally as the year begins, but I know there is always something here to lift my spirits.

    ReplyDelete
  5. Hail, Hail, the gangs all here!

    Hi Paco! Hi Ride! Hi Marty! It's good to have everybody back after the Christmas season. Happy New Year to all of you.

    ReplyDelete