An act of faith

Published 6:00 am Friday, December 3, 2021

Over and over in the Gospels, Jesus makes it clear that He wants us to be confident in Him. His emphasis on this is striking. When the ruler of the synagogue was troubled by news of his daughter’s death, Jesus said, “Fear not; believe only, and she shall be safe.” Before curing the two blind men, He said to them, “Do you believe that I can do this unto you?” To the man asking Him to cast the evil spirit from his son, He said, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth.” The examples could continue.

Brother Maximilian Watner

In these instances, Christ demonstrates that He wants us to have faith in Him. But faith is one of those words that has more than one meaning: first, “accepting or regarding as true the doctrines of Christianity” (which is absolutely necessary in its own right, of course); and second, confidence in His love for us and His power to help us. It is faith in this second sense that Christ emphasizes in these examples.

But although in the Gospels Our Lord did choose to give His suppliants the cures they sought, the true test of our confidence comes when we cannot understand God’s plan or when the outcome of a situation is not what we wanted. Obviously, confidence does not mean that we are sure of a certain outcome, but that we are sure of God’s power and His love for us, no matter the outcome. In the Garden of Olives, Christ begged that the chalice of suffering would pass Him by; it did not, and yet He continued to love and reverence His Father.

Our confidence is so important because God wants us to love Him with the tender love of a child. “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with thy whole heart, and with thy whole soul, and with thy whole mind. This is the greatest and the first commandment.” We cannot achieve this love unless we can rest in Him, unless we are confident in His abilities and His love for us. How can we serve Him with whole and unreserved hearts if we doubt? If God sees that we are unsure of His love for us, we tie His hands, and our service to Him will begin to seem like a form of slavery. At best, we will hesitate, doubt and drag our feet. Fr. William Doyle, a military chaplain of the First World War once said, “There is no service so hard as the half-hearted.”

But while it may be easy to say that God loves us and is in total control, to live that belief is much harder. It is an act of faith. God knows all things, He can do all things, and He loves us: this is the basis of our confidence. In the words of the poet Charles Peguy, “The faith that I love best, says God, is hope.”

BR. MAXIMILIAN WATNER is on the the staff at St. Thomas Aquinas Seminary in Buckingham County. He can be reached at webmaster@stas.org.