It takes courage to practice faith, because just like courage, every act of faith carries within it a certain amount of fear. Those who hide from life and making commitments know very little about either courage or faith.
Faith like courage is gutsy; it demands commitment to something or someone beyond us. Faith like courage is not unreasonable, nor is it a mindless act which suppresses the intellect. Faith is not to be confused with nice, warm, fuzzy feelings. Similar to courage, faith is based on evidence which gives us the ability to reach out beyond ourselves.
However faith has its enemies, the chief one being inordinate or unhealthy pride. Because inordinate pride like all sin, can distort, pervert and even destroy faith, just as easily as it can distort, pervert and even destroy courage. Inordinate pride fosters the desire to control every aspect of our lives including God. It’s that little voice that whispers: “God – If you don’t listen to me, if you let me down me, if you don’t play by my rules, then I will quit believing in You!” The prophet Habakkuk in the first reading was dealing with a temptation like that.
But faith is a virtue that has to be lived out on God’s terms, not on ours. Jesus Himself frequently repeated that He had come not to do His own will, but the will of His Heavenly Father.
Faith, like courage, is a virtue that we cannot earn, buy, nor can we store it away. As Saint Paul today reminds us, that it is God who gives a spirit of power, love and self-control. And unless we exercise our faith it will wither away like any unused muscle in our body. Faith in Christ and His promises needs to be lived out in the way we live out our lives.
And such faith is possible, just talk with a recovering alcoholic or drug addict; or someone who has passed through the black tunnel of depression to see the light of the other side; or someone who has separated themselves from a life of sin; or someone who has experienced a great sorrow in their life, and yet finds strength to carry on for the sake of others. They will tell you of the power of faith, a power that can move mountains.
Yes, we are surrounded by a culture that in many ways works against faith, especially faith in Christ and His promises. A culture that would have us put our faith instead in pop stars, music, drugs, sex, alcohol, or in the latest gadget or fad. This is a shallow type of faith; but one that appears to be popular nowadays. How many people have this superficial type of faith shattered after realizing through depression, addiction, disease, meaningless hookups, loneliness, spiritual poverty, and sleepless nights, that life without faith in God, is a life that is empty of true human meaning and depth? Without faith in the presence of Christ within us, normally healthy people become weak, powerless, and listless.
With Faith, mountains of despair can be removed, deep rooted trees of sin, addiction and hopelessness can be uprooted; meaning can be brought out of absurdity; good out of evil; order out of chaos and life out of death. Faith in Christ, even the size of a mustard seed, allows the ordinary person to reach beyond their own human weaknesses and limitations, so as to become a faithful witness to Jesus and the Good News of redemption and salvation.