On June 30, 1859, a French man called Charles Blondin became the first person to cross a tightrope stretched across the Niagara Falls at the border between Canada and the United States. That was not all. Blondin walked across the 160 feet above the gorge several times after and each time he displayed a remarkable feat. He once crossed on stilts, on a bicycle, in the dark and blindfolded. At another time, he crossed with a stove and even made an omelette while walking the tightrope. In fact, he became the greatest funambulist of his day and age.
On one occasion, Blondin asked the crowd that gathered if they believed that he could cross the tightrope with a wheelbarrow and the answer was a resounding “YES!” He further requested if anyone could get into the wheelbarrow, but nobody did. Blondin later said to the crowd: “you all believe I can cross the tightrope with the wheelbarrow, but nobody believes we can do it together.” Faith is not just a noun; it is also a verb; a doing word!
On December 4, 1982, a male child was born to a family in Melbourne Australia. Without prior medical warning or explanation, the child was born without arms and legs. While growing up, Nick Vujicic (pronounced “Vooycheech”) could not understand why he was different from other kids. He struggled with depression but later FAITHED his condition by accepting it as God’s will and refused to be deterred by it.
Nick discovered and exploited “ability” in his disability. He could do practically everything any normal person could do including driving, swimming, playing golf and soccer, writing, typing, and many other things. Most of all, Nick rose to become one of the remarkable personalities of our time. He has travelled to over 57 countries to deliver inspirational talks. He has written many books and even became New York Times Best Seller author. He got married to Kanae in 2012, and they have two sons.Your attitude determines your altitude; faith is an attitude!
Today we are reflecting on faith. It is a gift from God; in fact a supernatural gift (Eph. 2:8). Furthermore, the letter to Hebrews (Heb. 11:1) defines faith as: “the assurance of things hoped for and the conviction of things not seen!” From the above, we have a comprehensive understanding of faith not just faith in God. We all have faith as a facility in us though most of us fail to FAITH IT when the occasion calls for it. Faith characterizes our sleeping and rising and our going out and coming back. The Catechism of the Catholic Church goes further to state that:
Faith is a gift of God, a supernatural virtue infused by Him. “Before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God to move and assist him; he must have the interior helps of the Holy Spirit, who moves the heart and converts it to God, who opens the eyes of the mind and ‘makes it easy for all to accept and believe the truth (CCC.153).
From the statement above, we discover that there is a difference between Faith as a supernatural virtue (gift) and Faith as a religious creed, for instance, the Christian Faith. It is thus not enough to belong to a Faith tradition; there is a need to exercise or FAITH our faith. It is based on this background that we are today reflecting on FAITHING IT to MAKE IT!
In the Gospel today (Luke 17:5-10), the apostles asked our Lord Jesus Christ for faith increment. Their request was direct and purposeful. They could have been experiencing challenges in their new vocation as followers of Christ. We could recall that before this time our Lord Jesus Christ was discontent about their little faith (Matt. 8:26; Matt. 16:8; Matt. 22:31). In all these instances, he did not say they lacked faith but spoke about their low-range or “unfaithed” faith.
In response to their request, our Lord used a phenomenon within their environment to demonstrate what faith is all about and how it can be “faithed.” He told them that if they could have faith as little as the size of a mustard seed, they could give a command to a Sycamore tree to be uprooted and be planted in the sea and it will happen.
Let us pay attention here. Our Lord said if their faith could be as little as a grain of mustard seed it could avail much. Mustard seed is known to be the smallest grain which eventually grows into a big tree. This means that faith is useful not on account of its size but due to its activation. Hence our Lord was telling them that it is not all about increasing your faith, but it is all about activating the one you already have.
It may also be good for us to double check why our Lord used the allusion of uprooting a Sycamore tree and planting it in the sea. Sycamore trees (ficus sycomorus) were very important at the time. They are short trees of about five meters and were found along the streets in Israel and by the Nile in Egypt.They grow on the ground (and not on water) and to have one uprooted by mere words and planted in the sea would be unimaginable; this is only possible by faith. Our Lord was only confirming that faith in God brings about the occurrence of unbelievable things.
The next instruction was about a servant attending to the master first before attending to himself. On the face value, it seemed to deviate from the theme of faith. But on a closer look, we discover that our Lord was still talking about faith showing itself in action. Our Lord used the narrative to show the actionability of faith through service. This means that our faith which is potent in us can be activated when we put ourselves into divine service.
The Christian life is worthless without faith. The letter to the Hebrews (11:6) instructs that it is impossible to please God without faith. We have this demonstrated through most people who had close contact and connection with God for instance Abel, Noah, Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Joseph, Moses, Rahab, Gideon, Barak, Samson and Jephthah, David Samuel and the prophets, (Heb. 11:4-32).
Many have people have not been able to activate their faith because of doubt which makes it difficult to FAITH IT.The First Reading (Habakkuk 1.2-3;”:2-4) ended by telling us that the righteous lives by faith (not by fear). St. Paul would corroborate this by telling us that we live by faith not by sight (2nd Cor.5:7). Christianity itself is not a principle nor a title. Christianity is a way of life that should be lived through activated faith that is FAITHING IT.
We need to “FAITH IT” as the woman with the issue of blood did (Luke 8: 43-48). We need to “FAITH IT” like the blind Bartimaeus (Mark10:46-52). We need to “FAITH IT” like the Centurion who believed that the words of our Lord Jesus Christ could heal his servant (Matt. 8:8). We need to “FAITH IT” like the Canaanite woman who could not let go until she got an answer from our Lord Jesus Christ (Matt. 15: 21-28). We need to “FAITH IT” like Charles Blondin who walked the rope across the Niagra Falls seventeen times and made it. We need to “FAITH IT” like Nick Vujicic who discovered ability in what is considered a disability.
St. Paul in the Second Reading today (2 Tim.1:6-8.13-14) was asking us to “FAITH IT” when he was reminding us to rekindle the gift of God that is within us. That gift which is faith expels the spirit of timidity from our lives and provides the spirit of power and self-control that moves us to testify.
There may be challenges before you. There may be an obstacle on your way. There may be hurdles on your path. There may be difficulties confronting you. Whatever they are, you need to rise and FAITH IT. Sometimes in life failure is our inability to try again and FAITH IT. Doubt can only double your dilemma, but faith can free you from the fetters. FAITH IT and you will MAKE IT. We need to make faith an ATTITUDE so that we can reach a desirable ALTITUDE.
FAITH IT and have a grace-full week ahead.