Faith changes everything. It doesn’t take much. But it requires action. When I was finishing my MBA at the University of Dallas, I was offered several times to go to work with the pioneer company making birth control pills. I was newly married, and my wife and I had experienced a courtship full of shared faith experiences. Our first child was on the way. I needed a job.
But, I knew I didn’t need this job; I couldn’t sell birth control pills. My faith prevented this.
Further, together we had experienced working in the missions in the mountains of Michoacan, in Southwest Mexico. Our shared mission experiences had stirred into flame our faith. We wanted to work in Latin America.
We prayed. We were concerned about having what we needed for our growing family. Sometimes I felt like the prophet Habakkuk and others who say something like, “How can there be a God when the world is so screwed up?”
How long, O LORD? I cry for help but you do not listen!
My job searches seemed to always come up empty. The birth control pill company kept coming back, insisting upon a bright future for me. In faith, Cynthia and I continued to wait and hope. God said to the prophet Habakkuk,
“… the vision still has its time,
presses on to fulfillment, and will not disappoint;
if it delays, wait for it,
it will surely come, it will not be late.”
Eventually, I was referred to a sister company that produced hospital diagnostic products and equipment. Patience and prayer paid off, as that led eventually to a career in Latin America.
More than once in my career we were faced with difficult decisions as a married couple. Our faith sustained us. It wasn’t always easy, and serious temptations were frequent. Despite our wavering, we usually waited for the Lord to lead. God was very good to us.
In the Gospel, the disciples ask Jesus to increase their faith. Once a person pleaded with Jesus saying, “Lord, I believe. Help my unbelief.” What they were really asking for was not faith, but certainty. That is not faith. St. Paul said,
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence* of things not seen.”
The disciples were asking for certainty.
Jesus’ response to the disciples was that when it comes to faith you don’t need much. A little goes a long way. If our faith were simply the size of a mustard seed we could do grand things. Any person’s basic faith is capable of producing remarkable results.
Faith involves trusting that God will fulfill His promises. We need to persevere in faith. Faith does make a difference in the way we view our lives, and the way we live.
Faith demands action. Faith is not enough if we simply sit passively through life content simply to say, “I believe”. We must act upon our faith to strengthen it. St. Paul tells the young bishop, Timothy,
“I remind you, to stir into flame
the gift of God that you have through the imposition of my hands.
For God did not give us a spirit of cowardice
but rather of power and love and self-control.”
In the recent homilies on the Seven Deadly Sins, the key lesson was that we all live with temptation and many gifts that God has given us. What God expects of us with regard to temptation is self-control. What faith expects of us is courage and action, not a spirit of cowardice.
St. James, in his epistle will say,
“What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?”
Faith requires action. Stir up your faith into action.
Further, those who act upon their faith should not expect rewards for their courage and actions. Jesus addresses that issue when he uses the parable regarding the master of the servant who does just what is expected.
“Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded?
So should it be with you.
When you have done all you have been commanded,
say, ‘We are unprofitable servants;
we have done what we were obliged to do.'”
Ask for faith, it is a gift. Faith obliges us. Faith shapes our lives. Act on your faith. Stir up your faith into flame.