3rd Sunday after Epiphany 22.1.17 Simple Faith
In biblical stories it often happens that the people, in some sense on the outside, had more faith than those on the inside.
The Jews were the chosen people, but often the Gentiles would display greater faith, as in today’s Gospel (Centurion).
The sinners would sometimes show more faith than the apparently righteous, eg the Publican and the Pharisee (Lk 18,9-14).
Perhaps, for those on the inside, pride can take hold, and they can forget their relative nothingness before God.
We, as churchgoers, could stumble in this way. We might think, that because we go to church and pray other times, that we somehow have more right to heaven than others.
But it may be that the people out now, shopping and walking the dog, not going to Mass – they might get to Heaven before we do (presuming, of course, that they come to repentance).
The solution for us is not to stop the ‘religious’ things we do, but make sure that our interior attitudes match the exterior appearance. If we look religious, we must be religious.
We seek a genuine faith (like that of the centurion). How did he do it? How can we do it?
We can learn from the ‘outsiders’ a certain directness and simplicity.
Faith requires a sense of wonder at the power of God; a child-like humility and simplicity in believing that God, who made all things, can do anything He wants, here and now, no matter how improbable it may look by ordinary standards.
We need to have that power of wonder no matter how educated or sophisticated we may be.
We could have multiple academic qualifications but still have to say the sun rises in the east because God makes it so.
To maintain that simplicity, as we get more immersed in the world, we have to keep praying, and reflecting.
Many do not keep up the prayer, and they become embarrassed by their faith, fearing the ridicule of their peers.
Having simple faith does not mean that God is simple, nor is the one with faith; only that there is a direct link between us and God.
God is infinitely complex and mysterious, and we ourselves are mysterious enough, but simple faith means that we can directly believe in God, and entrust all things to Him.
The important thing is that we do not grow remote from Him. He does not fade with time, but our faith might! Our faith can fade, but not the realities we deal with.
People abandon God in droves, but that does not make Him any less.
We will not abandon Him. We keep our faith, and we grow in it. We humble ourselves before God, acknowledging our nothingness before Him.
Before Him we have nothing to plead for us, except our sorrow for sin, and the redeeming action of our Saviour.
Our faith will become stronger with simplicity. In the face of adversities of any kind we can call upon that faith. Many things might go wrong, and we need to be a house built on rock (Mt 7,24-27).
Our faith is in God, not in circumstances. We do not believe only if the last thing went right, but because He is what He is.
God does not change. I could lose all my money and thus lose faith (happens all the time), but the only thing that has changed is my bank balance.
We give up too easily. He needs stronger disciples, and we need to be stronger for our own sake.
A simple faith can be simply asked for, and it will be given. And then, all the other graces to put that faith into practice.
Only say but the word, and my soul shall be healed.