The basic theme linking today’s readings is faith. In the First reading, Prophet Habakkuk, urges the people of Israel not to give up because of problems that seem to shake their faith in God. Christians are discouraged when they don’t get result. You fasted and prayed, you believed God for favour but here you are no result. You have been told do not give up but it’s almost ten years now no result. Sincerely, when there is no result or answer to prayers Christians are discouraged. Heb. 11:35 says cast not your confidence for there shall be a recompense of reward. Beloved in Christ, one thing the devil does is to discourage the children of God, so if we are not discouraged we shall be rewarded. Life can be so trying that we are tempted to give up, Matt. 11:3 John was in prison he couldn’t bear the burden further and he told his disciples go and find out if he is the messiah or we should expect someone else. Therefore, don’t give up gold is tested by fire for the righteous shall live by faith. Faith it till you make it.
In the gospel reading the theme of faith continues, the disciples said to Jesus “increase our faith!” this is a prayer for increase. One of the marks of our modern culture is that we are always looking for more things, more knowledge, more money, more power, more houses, more cars, and even more wives or girlfriends. People seek for increase most times only in worldly things. The petitions they offer are all geared towards increase in worldly things. Here we are today presented with the good example of the disciples. we should equally ask for increase in faith, in virtues and in love. When was the last time you prayed for that which concerns the will of the Father, life is not about personal advantage life is about fulfilling the will of God. in Luke 17:6 Jesus answered and said “if you had faith the size of a mustard seed, you could say to this sycamine tree…” in Matt. 17:20 he says “for truly I say to you if …. You will say to this mountain move from here to there and it will move” This means that faith can remove mountains of difficulties, mountains of perplexities, mountains of sin, and finally it means that faith can accomplish great achievement.
What is Faith? Hebrews 11:1 tells us that faith is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Perhaps no other component of the Christian life is more important than faith. We cannot purchase it from any market, we cannot sell it in any Church or crusade ground, we cannot download it from the internet, and we cannot borrow it from anyone. Faith is not something we conjure up on our own, nor is it something we are born with, nor is faith a result of diligence in pursuit of the spiritual. Eph. 2:8 makes it clear that faith is a gift from God, it is not by our own doing. James 1:17 says every good and perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of the heavenly lights, who does not change like a shifting shadows. Faith is a gift and a supernatural gift for that matter. If it were a natural gift some may afford it; but as a supernatural gift no one can buy it. If it was affordable the disciples will not ask for it they will go and buy it. Thus, Faith is a gift. This gift enables us to believe without doubting whatever God has revealed Penny Catechism (Catechism of Christian Doctrine no.9).
Faith don’t seek sign
Again, Faith is defined as belief in God, or trust in God without logical proof. Whenever, you seek for proof in order for you to believe you are engage in empiricism. This is the theory that all knowledge is based on experience derived from the senses. Stimulated by the rise of experimental science, it developed in the 17th and 18th centuries, expounded in particular by John Locke, George Berkeley, and David Hume. A man who has faith does not wait for verification. The bible says in John 20:29 blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.
Most times, faith and believe are used almost interchangeably. Wherever we see the words “faith” or “believe” in the New Testament, they are usually a translation from the original Greek root word pistis. The noun form of the word, pistis, is usually translated as “faith” and the verb form, pisteuo, is translated as “believe.” In the New Testament, the words “faith” and “believe” often imply confidence, trust and reliance. Therefore, faith is confidence without evidence. Faith don’t wait for evidence, faith is irrespective of evidence. The woman with the issue of blood in Mark 5: 25-34 only heard about Jesus and she was confident to touch Jesus. In Mark 10:46-52 the story of a blind beggar named Bartimaeus heard that it was Jesus of Nazareth, be began to shout, “Jesus! Son of David! Take pity on me!” The Bible says in Rom 10:17 “So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” They only heard and they became confident. In Luke 11:28 blessed are those who hear the word of God and keep it.
It so sad today, a lot of Christians hear God’s message but go about searching for signs. Many Christians run around for signs and wonders and pastors have turned them to wanderers. Christians today go to consult malams, Christians indulge in palm readings and divinations, they indulge in stars interpretation and soothsaying, and they indulge in all forms of Egyptian magic, strange formulas and black power. All these are expression of faithlessness. Regrettably, Christians are exploited because they don’t know their God and I make bold to say that many Catholics are heavily exploited today because they don’t know their God. Catholics don’t know what they have. The bible says in Dan 11:32 “…They that know their God shall be strong, and do exploits.” To know God is to know the word of God and that is what brings faith.
Lastly, Jesus likened faith to mustard seed, therefore to grow in faith we must treat our faith life a seed that is planted. Without proper care and attention, the seedling will fade away. But with proper care, the reward is a hearty, thriving plant that sustains life and becomes a beautiful paradise for wildlife. So too is the growth of our faith. Five things we must do about our faith:
Care: We must care for it like a seed. St. Paul encourages the Bishop Timothy in today’s second reading to fan into flames the spirit of God that he received at ordination.
Commitment-A relationship can’t grow without commitment – without dedicated time and effort. How do we give God our attention, especially when our faith is still a seedling that hasn’t reached the light of day yet?
Water-Water sustains life. How do you water your faith? Study and Learn.Read the Bible. Go to Bible study. Read books by saints. Learn about Christianity and its history.
Sunshine Hold tight to the positive influences you find (via social media and social networks). Their sunlight will strengthen your stem and deepen your roots.
Weed- Don’t let your sprouting plant get choked out by weeds! Weeds are darkness, such as doubt and the negative influences in our life. Weed out the negative influences; they may look like the real plant.
Fr. Dan Evbotokhai