11th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I normally start preparing my Sunday homilies by Thursday morning. I began my homily preparation this week by writing down what I believe to be God’s personal message to me in the scriptural readings for today. The Lord seems to be telling me in a personal way, particularly in today’s second reading: Nelson, walk by faith, not by sight. As you acknowledge your dependence on Me and as you take steps of faith, I will show you how much I can do for you. I gave you My Spirit to empower you to live beyond your natural ability, and to look beyond what your eyes can see. You are not to measure your strength level against the challenges ahead of you. The issue is not your power but Mine, which is limitless and boundless. Walking by faith, or by walking close to Me, you can accomplish My purposes, you can overcome trials, and you can triumph in My strength.
We have a short description of true Christians in today’s second reading: True Christians “walk by faith, not by sight.” The Lord calls us to live by faith. However, faith is not normal for us. Paul David Tripp, in his book New Morning Mercies, says, “Faith is frankly a counterintuitive way for us to live. Doubt is quite natural for us.”
I agree with Paul Tripp: faith is not natural or normal for us. It is more ‘normal’ for us to wonder what God is doing. It is more ‘normal’ for us to think or believe that our life is harder than that of others. It is more ‘normal’ for us to envy the life of others who seem to be happier than us. It is more ‘normal’ for us to try to figure out the future – feeling so insecure. Worry is natural. Fear is natural. Anxiety is natural. Wanting to quit or to give up is natural. Being skeptical of the difference our good habits and good works can make is natural. Being haunted by the question of whether what we have staked our life on is really true is natural.
Indeed, faith is not natural. This means that faith is not something we can work up inside ourselves. Faith comes to us as God’s gift of grace. God not only gives us the grace to believe for our salvation, but he also works to enable us to live by faith.
Paul David Tripp has this to say about living by faith: “If you are living by faith, you know that you have been visited by a powerful presence with transforming grace, because that way of living is not natural for you and me.” If our way of living – our way of believing – is no longer based on what our physical eyes can see and what our limited minds can understand but based on and rooted in God’s presence, promises, principles, and provisions, it is because God has gifted us with faith.
Faith is complete trust and confidence in God. It is abandoning our entire being to God. It is turning our life over to God. One of the fundamental statements of faith is that “Your life is not about you.” “You are not in control. It is not your project. Rather, you are part of God’s great design.” To believe this in our bones and to act accordingly is to have faith. (Bishop Robert Barron)
Based on the words of St. Paul: If we have true faith, “we have surrendered to a power already at work in us.” Faith empowers us to do and accomplish infinitely more than we can ask or imagine. With faith we are empowered to use our time, talents, and resources serving and ministering to our community and our neighbor, instead of just working to death for money to get rich. With faith we are empowered to share ourselves generously – giving not only from our surplus but even from our poverty – because we truly believe that God provides for our needs. With faith we are empowered to leave our own projects – our selfish ambitions and self-seeking ways – and surrender to God’s will, follow God’s design. With faith we are empowered to free ourselves of bitterness, empowered to forgive others “seventy times seven times,” empowered to love and do good to our enemies.
With faith we can overcome our worries, fears, and anxieties. We can our trust in God, we can put ourselves trustingly in God’s hands, we can surrender ourselves to God’s will. Faith is a call to let God be God in our life.