“The upright man will live by faith”, the prophet says to us today. And the apostles ask Christ to increase their faith. Lets confess ways in which our faith commitment is weak at times..
“Increase our faith”. This prayer should be constantly on our lips today when many abandoning faith, are rudderless amid life’s storms. They live, as a recent newspaper survey noted, in the “here and now”, regardless of God, their soul’s salvation, or an essential inner life. For faith is as necessary for us as the air we breathe. It adds fullness and depth to our lives, and enables us to flower into eternity at death. Sheamus Heaney said in an interview before his death that we should keep the faith that has been handed down to us for our welfare in this world, if for nothing else. Psychologists echo this view. They say that faith is good for our psychological life. And a recent scientific study goes further and proves that evolution favors those of faith; in effect, its the key to our very survival. So we’re fools not to believe. But as our reading shows, people in every age fall into a faithless trap and resultant mediocre living: “see how he flags whose soul is not at rights”, the prophet says, “but the upright man lives by faith”. Christ echoes this, “I came that you may have life and have it to the full”. Faith in him is life.
To restore flagging souls to this full life is the great Christian challenge today, when even priests seem to be catching the worldly malaise; scandals and cover-ups show them living a long way from Christ’s vision of belief as just living. The church hierarchy needs to be like you believers who come here to mass as naturally as breathing; you know faith is life.
And that its the way to noble uprightness and integrity too; as scripture says again, “the upright man lives by faith”. When we trust in God, and pray, then his holiness rubs off on us as it were; his grace enables us to do easily the good we cannot achieve on our own. That is redemption. For to do good we must know the right way, and that’s freely available to us through the Word and the following of Christ within mother church. The challenges of today are not always dealt with in scripture; so we need the church to interpret it for our times. For without this larger perspective. we grope in darkness. A famous American neurosurgeon says as much in a recent book; in a near-death experience he met God and came to faith as a result. Those who don’t believe, he says, are like people locked up in a closet who think only their narrow enclosed world is all there is; while out there in God is a vast spiritual world, that once immersed in, widens our horizons beyond bounds. The terrible thing about modern life, however, is the narrowing and vulgarization of the human soul, through the media. Governments seem to be getting in on the act now; they’d have us crawling about on all fours.
For God knows, people need faith to be raised up to their full human dignity. As faith declines so does life now; on TV every night drug-related killings, suicides, mass killings; no-go areas in cities, the break-up of the family and so on. Faith alone can lead us from this morass. To restore it in all its splendor is the challenge, for the church in its human aspect is imperfect. But it still brings us the necessary supports of a faith community, and our children’s good demands this. Without supportive faith they’re easy prey to worldly forces of evil. So let’s pray then that church structures that build faith will thrive in a new flowering of the Spirit. For all else is dust and ashes, but the body of Christ, the church, our mother in faith and hope, is forever. And when we have done all we have been told to do for it lets say “we are mere servants, we have done no more than our duty”. For worldly values pass and leave us empty before eternity but Christ is lord of love, goodness, truth, peace, and happiness both for life in this world and forever and ever, amen. So as God’s people, growing in saving and enriching faith, hope and charity as Christ’s living body, lets profess our faith..
Prayers of the Faithful
As the people of God gathered here lets pray our faith wont fail.
For our Holy Father and all leaders of the churches, may they be strong in faith so as to light up the world in Christ..
For civil leaders; may they foster a faith handed down with such great sacrifice rather than promote empty lifeless secularism..
For our youth that clinging to the faith and its practice within the church, for without community support faith is empty, they may come to inner happiness and bring that light to the world..
For us in our homes, may we be diligent in increasing our own faith by practice, and pass on a living faith to our children..
For the sick in mind, body or soul that through their faith and our care for them they find comfort and peace..
For the dead whose faith is known to God alone that through our prayers they may come to their eternal rest..
And we ask all these our prayers through Christ who is lord of life forever and ever, amen.
There’s a story told of an person visiting a monastery. There were many monks bustling around and the person said to the abbot: ” this is a thriving religious place. How many disciples do you have?”. “One or two”, the abbot replied. Sometimes our faith within the church can be like that, mediocre following of Christ. So we need always to pray in the Spirit, “increase our faith”, so that we may be true and fervent disciples of the Lord. Lets pray to Mother Mary for life-long zeal in God’s service..Hail Mary.