Value of Faith

In 05 Homilies by Fr. Reid on 2016/06/17 at 12:00 AM

Our readings today speak of the ever-important virtue of faith. While St. Paul encourages us today to excel in faith, in the Gospel we are given two examples of great faith in the persons of the woman with the hemorrhage and Jairus, the synagogue official.

When Jairus was told that his daughter had died, Jesus said to him: “Do not be afraid; just have faith,” and so he did. And to the woman with the hemorrhage Jesus said: “your faith has saved you,” thus explaining to her the reward of faith.
In both we see people who trust well in our Lord’s goodness, mercy, and ability to heal. And ultimately this is what faith is: it is a confident trust in our Lord and His love for us.
The Catechism teaches us that: “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us, and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. By faith ‘man freely commits his entire self to God’” (CCC 1824).
Faith, along with the virtues of hope and charity, is a gift that is implanted within us by God at our baptism. But at the same time, “faith is a personal act – the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals Himself” (CCC 166).
Faith is given to us by God to help us develop our relationship with Him. But at the same time, faith is not simply something we have; it’s something we must exercise.
Thus, our faith is not meant to be something completely personal that we share onlywith our Lord. To the contrary, there should be a public aspect to our faith as well whereby we share the fruits of our faith with others with the hope that, they too, might one day come to know our Lord and thereby be saved.
For this reason the Catholic Church has always engaged in works of education and charity of all types, most especially through her hospitals, schools, publishing houses, and social service agencies. Our provision of these services to others is a testament to our faith in God and a sign of His love for us all.
This week our country celebrates its 236th anniversary as a free nation. Throughout the course of our 236-year history, there have been many battles fought to ensure that there might be liberty and justice for all of us who call this great land “home.”
But sadly, even though we are well into our 3rd century as a nation, at this moment in our history there is not liberty and justice for all.
But contrary to popular belief, the next great civil rights issue for us Americans is not whether homosexual persons can marry. The true civil rights issue of our day is whether Americans of faith will have the right to fully exercise their religious beliefs.
To this end, the bishops of our country have dedicated this two-week period leading up to the 4th of July as a period of prayer and teaching on the issue of religious liberty.
In large part this “Fortnight of Freedom” is a response to the recent mandate of the Department of Health and Human Services that requires all employers to provide contraception, sterilization procedures, and abortion-inducing drugs in their health plans.
Obviously, this is in direct violation to some of our most deeply held beliefs as Catholics. The upshot of this mandate, if it is allowed to stand, is that Catholic institutions will be forced to close or pay fines rather than comply with these intrinsically evil actions.
While the Obama Administration has included a religious exemption in this mandate, in its temerity, the Administration has seen fit to define what constitutes a religious institution, and it has done so in such narrow fashion so as exclude organizations that employ or serve people who do not belong to their own religion.
So for example, the Diocese of Charlotte and our Catholic Social Services agency do not qualify as religious institutions according to the Obama Administration. Neither does Belmont Abbey College, or any other Catholic college or university.
By providing for the needs of the poor, regardless of their race or religion, or by providing education or health care to people who may or may not be Catholic, Catholic hospitals, publishers, schools, and service agencies have lost their status as religious institutions.
As we think through the ramifications of this mandate, it seems to me that our government is telling us that it’s okay if we keep our faith to ourselves, but that if we try to live our faith publically – as we are called by our Lord to do – then we’re going to be in trouble.
But as I mentioned earlier, our faith is not meant to be kept to ourselves; it’s meant to be lived publically. As Christians we must not only keep the faith but also profess it, confidently bearing witness to it and spreading it, for faith is necessary for man’s salvation (cf. CCC 1816).
We hear this in the Gospel of Matthew, where Jesus tells us: “Everyone who acknowledges me before men, I also will acknowledge before my Father who is in heaven; but whoever denies me before men, I also will deny before my Father who is in heaven” (Mt 10:32-33).
Living out our faith publically by charitably serving others is absolutely essential to being a Christian and helping others on the path to salvation.
Pope Benedict XVI made this very point in his first encyclical when he wrote: “The Church cannot neglect the service of charity any more than she can neglect the Sacraments and the Word” (Deus Caritas Est, #22).
To fail to perform works of charity is to be like the tree that does not bear good fruit that is condemned by our Lord in the Gospel of Matthew! Furthermore, if we fail to share our faith through charitable works, souls will be lost, for they will not be given the chance to hear the Gospel proclaimed. And so, my brothers and sisters, the stakes in this battle are high!
Fortunately, we don’t have to fight this battle alone. We have Christ on our side, and we also have His Immaculate Mother.
Indeed, Mary is our model of faithfulness, for she never lost her faith in our Lord’s power to overcome evil, even when she watched Him die on the cross. For this reason we call her the Virgin most Faithful.
But we also call her the Help of Christians. And we must look to her in this decisive battle for sure and certain help.
Throughout the course of our Christian history, Catholics have always turned to our Lady in times of turmoil and persecution, for as we pray in the Memorare: “never was it known that anyone who fled to [her] protection was left unaided.”
So let us turn to our Lady now, for while our own prayers to the Lord are good, her prayers are more powerful. Let us place all our hopes and trust in Mary, who, under the title of the Immaculate Conception, is the patroness of our country.
And let us not only have faith that God will indeed prevail in this struggle we are now experiencing, but let us live our faith publically with great confidence.
Mary, Help of Christians and Patroness of our country, pray for us!
01 July 2012

© Reverend Timothy Reid

Fr. Reid is the pastor of St. Ann Catholic Church, Charlotte, NC

Homilies from June 17, 2012 onward have audio.
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