The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Sunday, October 6, 2013

The flame of faith

27th Sunday in Ordinary Time—Year C
Habakkuk 1:2-3; 2:2-4; 2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14; Luke 17:5-10

(A meditation on this week's readings
in the form of a conversation with God.)
God, are you there? I cannot see you. It is dark and cold and lonely. From the shadows, beasts threaten to overtake me. Violence, strife and discord surround me. Why have you left me in such misery?
"Wait for the fire of light and warmth and peace to build. It will surely come. You have not been forgotten. Walk by faith.”
I have no faith.
"Are you baptized? Then you have faith—unless you have willfully renounced what you have received from me. If you had done that, however, we wouldn’t even be having this conversation. Faith is a supernatural gift through my grace. It is steadfastness or strength, which I myself bestow upon you. It cannot be earned—only freely received.
Why can’t I see it?
Where are you looking? Faith itself, like the light of day, cannot be seen—only what it illumines. Faith, as my Word says, “is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Hebrews 11:1). Raise your eyes and see by the light of faith all that I have given you. Without me, you can do nothing and would have nothing; without me, you would not be. In me, you live and move and have your being (cf. Acts 17:28).
But it is so hard!
Dearly beloved, bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from me. I am your strength and salvation (cf. Psalm 118:4).
So I just sit here and wait?!
Wait, yes. Sit, no. I have ignited the fire of faith within you, but like a glowing ember which must be stoked lest it be reduced to lifeless ashes, you must stir into flame the gift that I have given you. Do this, and the light and warmth and peace of faith will build within you, gradually transforming you like a living tree aflame in my love.
How do I stir this faith into flame?
Ah, my child, now we’re getting somewhere! Stir it through prayer, nurturing a living relationship with me in your heart, and conversing with me as you are now. Speak to me, but also allow me to speak in the silence of your heart. Stir it by regularly reading and meditating on my Word, which is living and active. Stir your faith through participation in the sacraments, which I give to sustain you along the way. Stir it through worship and charity in a community of believers, devoting yourself to the apostles’ teaching and fellowship, to the breaking of bread, and the prayers (cf. Acts 2:42). Strengthened by these gifts, grow in virtue by loving your neighbor as yourself and forgiving, as I have forgiven you. Take up your cross daily and follow me. Give yourself to me wholeheartedly, as did my Son, the Word made flesh, who was crucified for you—and whom I raised from the dead to sit at my right at the eternal banquet of love. Come to the feast!
Lord, increase my faith!
The size or amount of your faith does not matter. Faith as tiny as a mustard seed can—and will—work wonders. Again, stir into flame what you already have—no matter how small and lifeless it may seem.
But what about the darkness, cold, and loneliness I feel—the beasts that lurk in the shadows, the violence and discord that surround me?
These are not from me, but through the Word made flesh, I experience them with you, give them meaning, and redeem them through the Light of the Resurrection. This is my promise: the Light shines in the darkness, and the darkness will not overcome it. I am the light of the world. Follow me and you will have the Light of Life (cf. John 1:5; 8:12). What is more, by doing so, you become this light for others who are in similar circumstances. Through me, you become their light, warmth, and peace. In the form of service, give as you have received. Every good tree bears good fruit (cf. Matthew 7:17), just as my Son, the Tree of Life. If I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet (cf. John 13:14).
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! (cf. Mark 9:24)
As I have promised, so have I done—am doing this very moment. So, with the Light of Faith, wait…stir…grow into a consuming fire…and serve by spreading my light, warmth, and peace. And remember: I am with you always (cf. Matthew 28:20).

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