The importance of faith
"Today I have given you the choice between life and death, between blessings and curses. Now I call on heaven and earth to witness the choice you make. Oh, that you would choose life, so that you and your descendants might live!" Deuteronomy 30:19
Reflection on Mark 5:21-43
“Only have faith.” At the end of our life only our faith will save us. It is our most precious gift.
We are living in dangerous times because our faith, that unites us to God and one another, is under threat. Our entire social order is in danger. We see everywhere a pattern of moral degeneration, disaster, war. In the Vatican some allege there is a crisis comparable to the Arian crisis. Here in Australia we are also in a crisis. As a society, we have rejected God by rejecting God’s law. I’m referring to SSM. According to St. Bernard of Clairvaux, this rebellion indicates the deadly vice, pride – and on a national scale.
We are living in dangerous times. Last week Pope Francis condemned fake news as satanic, deceptive and manipulative. And during his recent trip to Chile he called out media reports concerning Bishop Barros, claiming it was all calumny. He also warned some religious sisters that gossip is comparable to terrorism. In summary, he strongly denounced different forms of lying that have become the norm in our society.
The point is, these current issues highlight two important concerns that threaten our faith and ergo this community of faith; namely pride and lying. The self-deception of pride – lying 1st to our self– procures lying to others. And lying separates a community united by faith, even if it is only by omitting some truth.
The threat that the lack of faith poses to a community is why Jesus said to Peter, “Satan has asked to sift all of you as wheat. But I have prayed for you … that your faith may not fail. And when you have turned back, strengthen your brothers” (Luke 22:31,32). Be aware that it is faith that protects this community. Faith unites us in Christ and enables us to put the interests of God’s kingdom first.
Faith is also central to the drama of the Gospel. Two females are sick, one for 12 years, and one who is 12 years old. In this story that is sandwiched together, the faith of the woman is the key to interpreting what happens to the little girl – despite some not having faith. Bottom line, faith saved them both. Hearers of the Gospel are to conclude that it is faith that will save us.
Although the Gospel (Mark 5:21-43) teaches us only of the healing aspect of faith, its true relevance lies in answering the question: Who do you put your faith in?
Do you build up your life trusting in yourself and own abilities, and in your own opinions? Building in this way will lead you into opposition with anything your find contrary to your own individualised beliefs, which is isolating and damaging to community.
Or are you prepared to let go of what you think and surrender yourself to the teachings of Jesus. Are you prepared to put your faith in him who tells you that you must die to yourself, just as a seed must die when it goes into the ground?
Ultimately, we must choose one of two ways. The way of idolatry–or pride–that builds a life centred around one’s self. The other path builds upon our faith in Jesus. One way is self-centred and leads to division, lying, accusation etc. when that is self-serving; the other way is other centred or Christ-centred, and leads to our serving others. They are mutually exclusive.
I suggest the path of fidelity to Christ which 1st requires humility. It’s a path of truth and trust in God; and of an openness to be bound together in love as One Holy Catholic and Apostolic community. Satan does want to sift this community. The clear answer is in the Gospel, “Do not be afraid; only have faith.”