14th Sunday in Ordinary Time
By Deacon Lawrence N. Kaas
July 4, 2010
July 4, 2010
To have Faith is to believe something. Jesus' growing popularity generated the kind of belief that produced full-time followers. In Luke 10, today, we read of Jesus sending out the seventy-two disciples as His representatives. They went two-by-two to go places where Jesus planned to go. They extended His ministry and prepared the way for Him to come later. The mere willingness of the seventy-two to undertake such a mission is evidence of their enormous belief in Jesus. Sounds something like our 3 new priests, having to go to their first assignment, doesn't it?
To believe is to give mental assent to something or someone. The strength of our belief is the measurement of the seriousness of our belief. Having said that, our belief must be grounded in some kind of reality. For example: there is little virtue of belief in a passionate belief along with Charlie Brown, in the Great Pumpkin. Or what about Harry Potter: sometimes we get so wrapped up in fantasy that we lose the reality of what is real. But worse then that we can mix fantasy with a belief system that clouds the reality of mind causing faulty cognition, in other words, not knowing what is really real. OK, so you like Harry Potter, just have the wisdom to know what is fantasy and what is not.
Intensity of belief must be balanced by credibility of belief, if we are to be wise in believing. True belief also requires a willingness, at some point, to act on that belief. You may remember the letter of James, the case is clearly made that belief alone is profoundly inadequate, for James writes: "You believe that God is one; you do well., Even the demons believe -- and shudder!" As important as it is, belief alone will inevitably be found inadequate as the sole meaning of faith. We can be perfectly orthodox in our beliefs, yet deny or defy God by the way we live. Belief is important in Faith, BUT it is hardly Faith's essence.
Maybe the best way to say that, it that the essence of Faith is courage. Jesus sends out the Seventy-two not as lone rangers but two by two. In part I suppose for safety reasons but also for the sake of encouragement. Maybe too: They remembered Deuteronomy 19:15, where the testimony of two is said to be reliable and worthy of trust. This must have worked because when they returned from their mission they were full of excitement and gratification. "Lord, in your name even the demons submit to us!" they reported. Jesus met their enthusiasm with some of His own: "I watched Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning. See I have given you authority to tread on serpents' and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy; and nothing will hurt you."
If we examine both the life of Jesus and His many teachings, it is clear that only one other reality was considered as important as faith. The essence of faith is not belief, although believing is indispensable. The essence of faith is not courage, although without it faith is indispensable, The essence of faith is LOVE. Faith is to be lived, day by day, year by year. And the surest evidence of living faith is LOVE for God and LOVE for neighbor. Jesus said that the judgment of God is ultimately about whether we have loved Him by loving the least of our brother and sisters. In 1st Corinthians 13, the Apostle Paul says that if we don't have love it doesn't really matter what else we have. If we have faith to move mountains, he says, but have not LOVE we are nothing. The Apostle Paul reminds us for our benefit, that what remains is FAITH, HOPE, and LOVE. the greatest of which is LOVE. But the first named is FAITH. The essence of FAITH is also the fruit of FAITH, and that is LOVE.
'Thank you' to Deacon Kaas, for letting me post his reflection here.