*Fr. Bob’s audio homily will be available later in the week, so please check back soon.
Faith Can Move Mountains
In our gospel today the twelve apostles make an excellent request of Jesus; increase our faith. Jesus does not respond directly to their request, He puts the apostles on the spot. The point of importance, He says, is not how much faith you have, its size, its amount. What is important is the kind of faith you have, it has to be genuine. If it was no bigger than a grain of mustard but was genuine, real, its power would be enormous.
As I have said before, Roman Catholics are already people of great faith. We see a thin wafer of bread and we say, “Lord, I am not worthy to receive you.” We see a condemned criminal on a cross and we repeat the words of the centurion on Calvary, “Truly, this is the Son of God.” We hear stories about angels and apostles, mysteries and miracles. A crib and a cross and we respond, “This is the Word of the Lord.”
It is an incredible gift that God has lavished on us. We are believers, we have the gift of faith that only God can give. Do you personally ever get doubts? Probably. How is it possible? Why should an all-powerful God who does not need me become human for me? Why should God die for me? Why should He love me so much that He gives me His body and blood any time I care to walk up the isle at mass?
You believe that the grave is not the end. That life everlasting is for most of us. So much of our religion just does not make human sense. Science can shake our faith, make us pause and take a second look. Until you remember that with mind and heart you can do what a billion computers can never do. You can touch God as God has touched you. With your faith you do not envy space flight, you can reach God in an instant.
In a little while we will recite together the creed. We believe in one God, of all that is seen and unseen. It is wonderful when we come together and recite that great act of faith. And if someone wanted to know what we believe, we could point to this creed and say, “This sums it all up, and this is genuine faith.” But is not the whole of genuine faith by itself it is not a faith that saves.
Recall in the New Testament, the Epistle of St. James, he says “You believe that God is one, you do well, but even the demons believe that and shudder.” The faith that saves, the faith that moves mountains is not simply a matter of propositions, precious as propositions are within a faith that is catholic. My act of faith is to a person to the person of Christ. Unless Jesus is real to you, as real as your closet friend, your faith will not grow beyond a list of propositions.
In the words of St. Ignatius Loyola, “Let me know you more clearly, love you more dearly and follow you more nearly.” Then you will move mountains, mountains of despair, mountains of hopelessness, and mountains of fear.” As Catholics, we come closet to our Savior in the Eucharist. If you are to deepen your relationship with Christ, I see no substitute for coming together for the Eucharist. All through history, we gather as the Body of Christ to be fed by the Body of Christ.
Because you see faith like a child matures best within a community of love. Like it or not, we are all part of each other. As St. Paul says, the one bread makes us one body through many in number we become what we receive; the body of Christ. In our technological culture the word faith gives off a bad odor for some. Faith is a placebo, a sugar-coated pill you give or take when things go wrong.
Time and time again, I have seen the strength of faith, living faith. Loving faith is the most remarkable gift God gives any of us in this life. Faith is not weakness; faith is power, the power of God. And if you are going to be skeptic, be an honest skeptic. Take a long look at Christ; do you know another like Him? If you write Him off, whom or what will you put in His place? Follow that trail far enough and you may begin to find your unbelief unbelievable.
Doubt is not always bad, but the honest doubters require themselves, at least occasionally, to doubt their doubts. Did Christ ever doubt? It would seem so, remember in the garden, “Father, why have you forsaken me” But look at His death on the cross. His last words, they are faith-filled, “Father, into your hands I entrust My Spirit.” He died trusting, trusting in a Father ever faithful.
Remember what his enemies said as they taunted Him on Calvary? He trusts in God, let God deliver Him now if He wants to, He trusts in God. Perhaps, faith is best described by the simple story of a young boy flying a kite on a dull day. The kite is out of sight in a cloud. A man says to the boy, how do you know the kite is still there? You cannot see it. The boys, I know it is there when I feel the tug.
Isn’t that a little like God? Sometimes difficult to experience, but we know He is there when we feel the tug. Maybe, that is why we call it faith.