How many of you have taken a staircase to the top of a building believing you will ultimately reach the top? When you get there you are totally amazed by the beauty of all that is beneath you. How many of you have gotten into the car with a spouse who drives crazy and you have to press hard on the brake on your passengers seat over and over and pretend otherwise and finally surprised, that you have gotten there in one piece? (of course with some heart burns in the process). Well… tell me who all are backseat drivers here?
Just about a few days ago I realized “O My God, I didn’t even know what kind of creature was supposed to be coming out of Angi’s womb after nine months. But I believed all what the doctors said. I believed the history of medicine and I trusted it is going to be a beautiful human being. And the truth is, without knowing how that human being was created and out of what matter and form, the substance of it, I trusted the machine to be true and real, that it is going to be a baby girl, looking just like me and on my birthday.
Faith is simply the assurance of things hoped for, and the conviction of the things not seen. If you could believe in the possibility of a human being of our size, caliber, color, intelligence, beauty, and all that we are, out of a tiny little thing called the uterus measuring about 7.5 cm. in length, 5 cm. in breadth, at its upper part, and nearly 2.5 cm. in thickness; it weighs about 1.4ounces, we might as well believe in the possibility of a being capable of conceiving our all that we see around us as real.
Faith is simply a conviction that can not be proven by anyone or anything. It is a deep conviction that there is something we don’t understand but worth waiting for, just like we did when we waited eagerly, expectantly, and joyfully for our children. Conviction is real and personal.
We have faith in our doctors. Don’t we? How many of us truly know all the ingredients used in a pill that we are consume faithfully. But deep inside we believe, even though we don’t know what we are taking, we are going to be well. Even though we have no clue what a surgeon is doing exactly, we believe he knows what he is doing. Even though we are not sure, where we will end up at the end of the day, we start our day. We believe that our spouses are going to love us dearly. We believe our children will become great people without. And for all of it there is no proof at all.
What is the proof of the greatness of our children? It is our children and you believe it in your hearts. Our children are the proof of things that hasn’t happened yet. But you know it will, because it is your child.
Each Sunday we come here and we return with the hope that we will come back to this altar, and our community again. I grew up with this small prayer at the end of each Holy Eucharistic Celebration.
“O Christ, as I depart this altar of forgiveness, and mercy, may the oblation which I have received from you be to me for the remission of my debts, and forgiveness of my sins. I do not know weather I shall ever return to this altar to celebrate with one another this sacrifice of love and redemption.”
I depart the holy grounds, the mountain of Horeb, the burning bush each Sunday hoping to return to it again. It is this assurance of caring and sharing love, and acceptance, regardless of where we are in our journey, who we are externally and internally and what sort of backgrounds we come from, that helps you and me to return. It is our belief that we will love and respect each other that makes us return.
So ultimately statements of faith, expression of faith, life of faith is not a way of saying who is going to heaven, it is the admission, that we hope for a reality that is better than that of this world in which we will live in harmony and love of the other. Faith is the admission that there is a God who will make that possible, as God created us and sustains us.
If I can believe in UFOs, Aliens, life in other planets and the possibility of science to find the most powerful cure for the most outrageous illness, then it is an invitation to believe in the possibility that there could be a God who might surpass all our discoveries, and human understandings. It is not silly, childish, undeveloped or foolish as the modern world might say. Why? Because the world has no problem in believing in everything I have listed above but the possibility of something even more real and better.
If we can believe in everything else that does not exist and no proof of it is needed either, and doubts the existence of God, then it is our inability to admit we lack faith in God. Ironically faith begins with the admission that we lack faith.
There is a huge difference in knowing and believing. What we are fighting about and flying from is knowledge someone presents before us as how that God looks like or acts like. For example when a God looks a certain way, acts in a certain manner, exclusively and closed, then it is hard to understand God. Knowing God is very different from believing in God. Knowing about God is as good as holding tight an ice cube. It will slowly melt in your hands and there will be nothing left. The knowledge evaporates as the next wave of trouble and struggle pops up. Because we have memorized the verses of the bible one after another, because we have studied the catechism of the church faithfully, we are not guaranteed faith. Faith begins with the admission of the lack of it and willingness to gaze into the mystery of life.
So, what is the key to faith? Key to faith is hidden in the story of your life and in the story of those whom you love. When you retell the stories of life, and look into unexplainable mystery hidden in each of our experience, then we will find a thread that unites our lives, experiences, peoples, cultures, failures, and success, and everything in between and tie them all to a greater reality. The more we see those mystical elements present in us, the number of them will increase in our lives, and soon we will find the emerging face of God in it. Many things we ignored in the past will begin to make sense and life will take a different turn. This whole process is called, “stewarding our personal traditions” into the mystery of God.
Haven’t you heard stories of miracles from your parents and grandparents? Were they less intelligent and undeveloped as people than we are now? How did their stories and experiences, simplicity of life help them become a people of sacrifice in the midst of a whole lot of lack around them? They are not as fragmented as we are with our time saving, life saving, world saving, technological advancement. Our parents and grandparents were intelligent, sensible, sensitive, sacrificial, amazing people.
It is the mystery of life, that leads us to believe there is something more than and better than what our little brains can fathom. The night he was shot, right before it happened, Dr. King asked his friends who were gathered around him and said, “Play, ‘Precious Lord, Take My Hand”.
He believed in the mystery of life here and hereafter. He stewarded his life and experiences to the mystical reality of God in his life. That deep faith in something that eyes hadn’t yet seen, gave him courage to do what the most powerful could not do in his time and ours.
So, brothers and sisters, steward your personal tradition today and allow your personal faith in God to emerge into a reality that gives rise to freedom to love one another. Let all your knowledge and understanding take a back seat when you encounter the mystery of God so that the precious hands of the Lord can lead us on.
Opposite of faith is the surety that we can break the code of the mystery of God by the analysis of certain data. When failed we give up retelling the stories of mystery leading to indifference. So, the opposite of faith is not doubt. It is indifference to life and the mystery life holds!