BY FAITH, NOT SIGHT

11th Sunday in Ordinary Time          

            I came across a poem composed by Ruth Morgan titled By Faith, Not Sight. Part of the poem, the first stanza, goes like this: Sometimes I’m sad, I know not why My heart is so distressed It seems the burdens of this world Have settled on my heart And yet I know… I know that God Who does all things right Will lead me through to understand To walk by faith… not sight

            The poem must have been based on or inspired by the words of St. Paul which we have heard in today’s second reading. Paul talks about his fellow disciples who “walk by faith, not by sight.” That is a description of the Christian life: walking by faith not by sight.

            The word ‘walk’ in the Bible often symbolizes the way we live, the way we act, the way we behave, and the way we conduct ourselves in a certain way. It has reference to the fact that life is a journey, life is a pilgrimage, and that the Christian is a person who is traveling to another country. And so, to walk by faith is to live in the confident expectation of things that are to come.

            Let me mention one area where the principle of “walking by faith not by sight” is to be applied: Those who walk by sight manage materialism with anxiety. Most people in our world are far more concerned and preoccupied with material things – earning money, accumulating material wealth, working for financial security, having big bank accounts. They are more concerned with material things than they are serving God. On one level this is understandable, because you can see money and the attendant pleasures it yields. But you cannot see God.

            The problem is that the human eyes are never satisfied. The pursuit of wealth eventually becomes an obsession – turning into a god we serve. Because, as far as material wealth is concerned, we never reach the point where we have enough. We become slaves or prisoners of our own possessions, and they displace God as the center of our lives.

            According to G.K. Chesterton, there are two ways to get enough: One is to accumulate more and more and the other is to desire less and less. Someone said, “Life is tragic for the person who has plenty to live on but nothing to live for.”

            Those who walk with faith, however, handle this world’s goods with contentment. They live with complete trust in the divine providence. They realize that God has promised to supply our material needs if we have the faith to place his reign first in our lives. St. Paul is a good illustration of this principle. As he says, “I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am,” because, “I can do all things through him who empowers me.” Faith asks us to trust that the Lord loves us enough to use his almighty power in our behalf.

            Some scientists in Scotland offered a boy a large amount of money if he would allow himself to be let down by a rope over a cliff in a precipitous mountain gorge. The boy needed the money very badly for he was poor, but when he looked down into the two-hundred-foot chasm, he said, “No, I cannot do it.” After further persuasion, the boy said, “I will go if my father holds the rope.”

            That is faith! The boy had trust and confidence in his father. He believed in his father, and by an act of the will he allowed his father to fasten the rope around him and let him down.

            I cannot help but ask: Do we have that kind of faith in God? Do we really believe that it is God who holds the rope in our life? Do we have trust and confidence in the one holding the rope? Someone said, “Faith is not merely your holding on to God, it is God holding on to you. He will not let you go!”

            Let us end with a prayer: Lord God, give me the grace of faith that I may trust You in the dark. Help me to realize that the more extreme my circumstances, the more likely I am to see Your power and glory at work in my situation. Instead of letting difficulties draw me into worrying, make me see them as setting the scene for Your glorious intervention. May I keep my eyes and mind wide open to all that You are doing in my life. Amen.           

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