As we enter into the theological virtues – leading with faith, I found the scripture verse from Mark 9:24; “I believe, help my unbelief!” to be so well fitting of my own faith journey.
How often does Jesus heal bodily ailments throughout the Gospels? Yet, we are told that this is not nearly as significant as the work he does in healing the soul of the person with the ailment, possession, and yes – even death. Each time, it is through an act of faith on behalf of the one asking, which moves Jesus to heal both body and soul, often saying; “Your faith has healed you.”
So, it is in great humility that the father of the boy with the unclean spirit, both says that he does believe, and at the same time, asks Jesus to help his unbelief. I marvel every time I read his response.
Our faith is constantly in need of strength from the source of which it comes – Jesus Christ! Even those of us who believe are prone to doubt, and we are still tempted. We are not above the teacher. Therefore, our unbelief in the darkest and most intangible moments, are desperately in need of the humility to cry out to Jesus, as this father did.
Faith is Personal
We live in a culture that seeks to moderate and marginalize faith. In essence, faith is fine – as long as it remains lukewarm, which as we know, is opposed to the very nature of the faith God has called us to. A deeply personal faith threatens others, in the way that it transforms the person into an image more resembling Christ. And Christ, as we know, has threatened anyone who has taken up the challenge of encountering him, and at the same time trying to hold onto the comforts and ways of the world.
I can speak from experience, as to how unsettling the very idea of studying scripture can be to some. Even before I was a theology student, I was run out of a secular professor’s house, merely because (when asked) I stated that I agreed with the tenets of the Church.
An outwardly shared faith, on the other hand, is also threatening. We are taught to keep our religious views to ourselves, especially in the company of others. Holding any religious tenets at all, for that matter, is interpreted as an act of judgement upon another. This may be an act of social isolationism, in which friendships, jobs, and position may be compromised. Speaking the truth can simply not exist if there is no truth…and that is the lie – that there is no absolute truth.
When Jesus says, “whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father,” I get chills. I get chills thinking back on moments when I let an opportunity to speak the truth pass me by, cowardly. I get chills for close family and friends who I am “keeping the peace” with, because I don’t know how to appropriately speak the truth so that they will hear it.
Preach it Paul!
If you haven’t guessed by now – I’m a big fan of the book of Romans! I am affectionately called “Paula” by my spiritual director, my husband’s patron saint is Paul, and we were engaged on the feast of the conversion of St. Paul. (That’s a lot of Paul!) But I cling to St. Paul’s words often, because I find his situation, so many years ago, to be equally fitting to our current situation.
Paul was hunted, imprisoned, and ultimately killed for the faith – but none of this stopped him from speaking the truth. Paul said, “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” It is through faith, that Paul teaches us we will be healed and live eternally with God. Through faith righteousness is revealed, through faith is our salvation, through faith for faith.
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