Journeying in Faith
Faith is a precious gift which opens our mind to know and love God. It is a necessary part of any fully human life. Faith is not something that belongs only to religion. Human society is built on faith – on trusting others, whether God or other people There are many instances in our daily life that show our faith; you cannot buy a computer in a store and not have faith in what you have bought. You cannot step onto an airplane and not have faith, faith in the engineers who designed it, faith in the ground crews who perform maintenance on it, and faith in the pilot and co-pilot who fly it under the direction of the ground controllers. We cannot drive on our highways without having faith in the competence of the drivers of those vehicles we will either meet or pass.
The first reading sets before us the faith of a captive people during the darkest moments of their enslavement in Egypt. The Egyptian Pharaoh had steadfastly refused to hear Moses’s repeated plea that the people be set free to journey to their Promised Land. On the night of the Passover, despite the gathering storm, an enslaved people committed themselves to the promise that God would free them. Like the Israelites in Egypt, we live out our faith in a world whose values are frequently hostile to those of the Gospel. But how do we adapt our lives to the world in which we live? Do we remain steadfast in our faith amidst trials and tribulations?
For many years, Pastor Ignotus wrote a very popular column for The Tablet, a British weekly journal. In one of those columns he says that that there are two ways of approaching life: either as a planner or a pilgrim. The planner likes to have total control over his/her life, and to be able to plan each stage according to pre-set goals. Planners usually become bitterly disappointed if they fail to achieve their objectives. The planner refuses to live by faith. On the other hand, the pilgrim is someone who accepts life as a gift that unfolds as we live it, for however hard we try, we can never have complete control over what happens. The pilgrim is not deterred by failures and disappointments, but sees them as opportunities for spiritual growth. The pilgrim lives by faith and senses the full insecurity of the human situation, yet rejoices. That is the essence of faith.
By faith Abraham obeyed (second reading). At the word of God he uprooted himself, leaving his home and people, and set out for a land God promised to show him, where he would become the father of a great nation. It was a journey into the unknown. The only compass he had was faith in God. Like Abraham, we are journeying into the unknown. We literally do not know what lies around the next bend on the road of life. Every day we take risks and act on probabilities, hardly ever on certainties. We cannot be completely sure of what will happen today or in the future. In spite of meticulous planning, the future could take a totally different direction. While certainty destroys initiatives, uncertainty gives enthusiasm to life; while certainty rules out hope, uncertainty always looks forward with hope; while certainty leaves no place for God, uncertainty bring us closer to God. Uncertainty and mysteriousness of life prompt us to be always ready because the “Son of Man is coming at an unexpected hour” as the Gospel tells us.
Jesus once said, “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened”(Mt 11/28). He invited people to entrust their lives to him. It is like a bond between two friends who can trust and rely on each other completely. Real friendship does not happen instantly between two people – it has to be tested. There are often ups and downs in friendship and people have to work at it to make it a success. Our relationship with God is the same. Sometimes we will struggle with doubts and difficulties, with a mystery that we cannot fully understand. Sometimes we may even get angry with God. Eventually we come to realize that though problems and sufferings may continue in our lives, and God may not take them away, still he remains with us through the dark times. Even when he seems to be absent, God is always be there to support us, so that our faith will not be tested beyond endurance. Faith is much more than a mental conviction that God exists.
May we develop a robust, living faith that can weather the storms we encounter and continue to trust in God.