Reflections on the Readings
Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time - February 27, 2011 - Year A
By Dennis S. Hankins
A Deeper Faith
"But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith?" - Jesus
Many find it difficult to see their need for a deeper faith; a deeper trust and confidence in our Father. Overcome by deep anxieties concerning daily needs - even faith the size of a mustard seed, enough to move a mountain, is lacking. Shallow faith is tepid and insecure. When challenged to give a reason for its hope, it cowers with embarrassment; trembling not in awe of God, but disturbed and troubled and anxious about life, like what will I eat and drink?
Life is more than food and our bodies have more meaning than what the latest fashions can give them. Life is about a living and vibrant faith in the Father above; he makes his home in our hearts, we are a temple of the Holy Spirit. Living by faith is knowing him who loves us so much that he knows what we have need of even before we ask. A deeper faith discerns that there is an indestructible kingdom of justice, peace and joy - all conveyed to us by the eternal Spirit of the Father. It is the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead, and it is he who not only gives us faith, but nourishes it. He breathes on it.
God is behind the sun that shines. On those cool, springtime evenings, God turns on the night light and lets it glow in all its fulness across the East Tennessee Valley. That's right. Our Father brightens our days and our nights just because. Do you remember the preacher in the movie Pollyanna? Led by a little girl, the preacher discovers all the glad passages in the Bible. He found out what we must discover for ourselves; God is good and good to us.
Jesus calls us to be sons and daughters of faith; a deep and vibrant faith that is not afraid of tomorrow. Many dark things fill the evening news. But there is a faith, a faith which we are called to embrace that is not afraid. Looking upon the benevolence the Father bestows on his creation we learn that everything borrows its life from above. The birds of the air are fed by him; some of them are fed by me in my back yard. I've not seen a cardinal yet who wears a worried furrow on its brow. The cardinals and the purple and yellow finches look to be worry free.
Our faith becomes deeper when we gaze upon the goodness of God. All around us is the evidence that our Father upholds all of creation in the power of his caring love. If we will but contemplate the reality of these riches of grace in creation, our faith will thrive. A growing faith is a lively faith, moved by the goodness of the Father.
The first reading tells us that we are ever on the mind of God. If at any moment he would forget us, even the air we breathe would be no more. Yet this is impossible. Even if the unthinkable happened - that a mother could forget the child of her womb - yet "I will never forget you," says God. He visited us in the gift of His only begotten Son. And the message we heard from him is this: "I will never leave you. I will never forsake you. I am with you until the end of the age." Meditating upon these things, these truths, each of us can begin to possess a deep and living faith. Our soul can rest in God and greet each moment leaning upon the rock and stronghold of our salvation.
This personal relationship with the Father brings us to a hope that will not let us down. It is faith in God that gives us a place of rest until the storm passes by. When the storms of life are raging we can cry out from the depths of our soul, "Stand by me!" Such faith pleases God. Such unshakeable trust and confidence in God is the need for the times in which we live.
As we pray today, let us pray to have a deeper faith. May we be that people of God whose faith is deep, strong, loving, courageous, and bold. Amen.