Faith: A Gift of Presence and Love

18 Sep

If you want to grow in faith, you have to answer that very pointed question Jesus asks each of us in every generation: “Who do you say that I am?”

That’s the burning question – every day and in every situation.

“Who do you say that I am?”

In announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI has urged us to center our lives on Jesus Christ, to develop a deep and personal relationship with him. It must be a relationship of love. We must know him for who he is, Savior and Messiah.

A Clarion Call

The call to be a Christian is at its very core a clarion call to unconditional faith in God, to enter into complete union with our Triune God in and through Jesus Christ, Son of God and Son of Man.

What does it mean to have faith in God?

There are two apparent responses to this question:

  1. Faith is the acceptance of God’s Word, the teachings of the Church, worshipping at Mass and living a good moral life. In other words, faith is summed up as belief, worship and obedience.

 

  1. Faith is doing what the Lord asks us to do – to help the poor and the sick, to lift up those who are burdened, to celebrate his Living Word and presence among us in our community of faith. In other words, faith is summed up in belief, fellowship and working for justice.

Here we have what St. James talks about: faith and works – and like love and marriage, you can’t have one without the other.

Yet to embrace the discipline of “faith and works” is not the essence of faith.  True faith results in love – unconditional steadfast love.

Faith Is to Know and to Love

A grandfather visited his teenage granddaughter on her birthday with a precious gift. The young girl just knew that her grandfather would bring her something special. When he gave her the gift, she squealed as she hugged his neck tightly, “Oh, Gramps, I love you for that.”

Her confidence that Gramps would come through for her was not love. Her response might have been genuine gratitude, but it was not love for Gramps, for the person he really is, for a person of dignity and character, for him as image of God.

To know and love God means more than appreciation and gratitude for all he has done – even more than appreciation for the salvation won by the Blood of Jesus.

Faith, then, is to know, love and embrace God as he is, in his essence, regardless of whether you are happy or sad, well or ill, rich or poor.

How can you develop this kind of faith?

Listen to him in the Scriptures; become one with him in Holy Communion. Also, develop a regular time to be with God, just you and God. Just sit quietly with God. Ask God to come to you in a deeply personal way.

Get to know God as he is. You will never regret it. Actually, that’s what pray is – being with God, being so intimate with him there is no need for words, just a mutual basking in holy presence.

God loves you because you are. Yes, he created you, but he gives you liberty and he cherishes what he created – to the point of death on a cross. He wants private and intimate time with you. It isn’t hard; don’t be afraid; just ask him to come.

And you God will come to you – in your need for him and for security, health and all your daily needs. Always, he comes!

Actually, he does not come; he is always here – it’s just that we don’t sense his presence as we could and should.

GOD IS!

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