Living by Faith | A Homily by St. Josemaria Escriva
You hear people saying sometimes that there are fewer miracles nowadays. Might it not rather be that there are fewer people living a life of faith? God cannot go back on his promise, ‘Ask of me, and I will give you the nations for your inheritance, and the ends of the earth for your possession.’ Our God is Truth itself, the very foundation of all that exists: nothing takes place independently of his almighty will.
‘As it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end.’ The Lord does not change. He does not need to go after things he might not have, for he is all motion, all beauty, all greatness. Today as always. ‘The heavens will vanish like smoke, and the earth will wear out like a garment… but my salvation will last for ever and my justice will have no end.’
In Jesus Christ God has established a new and everlasting covenant with mankind. He has placed his almighty power at the service of our salvation. When his creatures lose confidence and are afraid through lack of faith, we hear once again the voice of Isaiah who speaks out in the name of the Lord: ‘Is my hand too short to redeem? Have I not strength to save? With one threat I can dry the sea and turn rivers to desert; so that their fish shrivel up for want of water and die of thirst. I clothe the heavens with darkness, and make sackcloth their covering.’
Faith is a supernatural virtue which disposes our intelligence to give assent to the truths of revelation, to say Yes to Christ, who has brought us full knowledge of the Blessed Trinity’s plan for our salvation. ‘In old days, God spoke to our fathers in many ways and by many means, through the prophets; now at last in these times, he has spoken to us through his Son, whom he has appointed heir of all things, through whom also he created this world of time; a Son who is the splendor of his glory and the figure of his substance; all things depend, for their support, on his word of power. Now, making atonement for our sins, he has taken his place on high, at the right hand of God’s majesty.’
I would like Jesus himself to talk to us about faith, to give us lessons in faith. So let us open the New Testament and relive with him some of the events of his life. For he did not disdain to teach his disciples, showing them, little by little, how to give themselves wholeheartedly to carrying out the Will of his Father. He taught them both by words and by deeds.
Consider chapter nine of St John. ‘And Jesus saw, as he passed on his way, a man who had been blind from birth. Whereupon his disciples asked him, Master, was this man guilty of sin, or was it his parents, that he should have been born blind?’ These men, even though they were so close to Christ, could still think badly about that poor blind man. So do not be surprised if, as you go through life seeking to serve the Church, you also come across disciples of Our Lord behaving in a similar manner towards you or towards others. Don’t let it worry you and, like the blind man, take no notice; just place yourselves wholeheartedly in Christ’s hands. He does not accuse, he pardons. He does not condemn, he forgives. He is not cold and indifferent towards illness, but instead cures it with divine diligence.
Our Lord ‘spat on the ground, and made clay with the spittle. Then he spread the clay on the man’s eyes, and said to him, Go and wash in the pool of Siloe (a name that means, Sent). So he went and washed there, and came back with his sight restored.’
What an example of firm faith the blind man gives us! A living, operative faith. Do you behave like this when God commands, when so often you can’t see, when your soul is worried and the light is gone? What power could the water possibly contain that when the blind man’s eyes were moistened with it they were cured? Surely some mysterious eye salve, or a precious medicine made up in the laboratory of some wise alchemist, would have done better? But the man believed; he acted upon the command of God, and he returned with eyes full of light.
St Augustine commenting on this passage wrote: ‘It seems appropriate that the Evangelist should have explained the meaning of the name of the pool saying that it meant, Sent. Now you know who has been sent. If Our Lord had not been sent to us, none of us would have been freed from sin.’ We must have complete faith in the one who saves us, in this divine Doctor who was sent with the express purpose of curing us, and the more serious or hopeless our illness is the stronger our faith has to be.
We must learn to acquire the divine measure of things, never losing our supernatural outlook, and realising that Jesus makes use also of our weaknesses to reveal his glory. So, whenever your conscience feels the stirrings of self-love, of weariness, of discouragement, or the weight of your passions, you must react immediately and listen to the Master, without letting the sad truth about our lives frighten us, because as long as we live our personal failings will always be with us.
This is the way we Christians must travel. We have to cry out ceaselessly with a strong and humble faith, ‘Lord, put not your trust in me. But I, I put my trust in you.’ Then, as we sense in our hearts the love, the compassion, the tenderness of Christ’s gaze upon us, for he never abandons us, we shall come to understand the full meaning of those words of St Paul, virtus in infirmitate perficitur. If we have faith in Our Lord, in spite of our failings or, rather, with our failings — we shall be faithful to our Father, God; his divine power will shine forth in us, sustaining us in our weakness.
“Living by Faith” is an excerpt from the homily given by St. Josemaria Escriva on October 12th, 1947. The homily is published by Scepter Publishers in the book “Friends of God”.