Sunday, April 6, 2014

Faith and Obstinacy

The Raising of Lazarus, by Giotto
In today's Gospel Jesus raised his friend Lazarus from the dead. Clearly it was a remarkable feat; the dead body was in the tomb four days by the time our Lord arrived. Yet, without regard to this miracle and the innumerable other miracles of Jesus, some people refused to believe in Him. These people were supposedly men of faith, believing in the one true God and in the Holy Scriptures written by Him. Obstinacy in refusing faith continues.

Faith is a gift from God. He can increase it too. But, we have to accept it; He does not force it upon us. St. John Chrysostom said: "To open the heart is a work proper to God...but to be attentive is a work proper to man..." (Homilies of the Acts of the Apostles, no. 35) We need certain dispositions in order to accept this gift. We need humility, purity and love. The great obstacles to faith are unrepented personal sins and disordered desires. We have to have at least a willingness to know and do whatever God wants. Otherwise even a proven miracle will not lead us to believe. The more we hold on to greed, lust, envy, the greater we refuse to allow even the possibility of faith taking hold in our hearts. We can form a kind of carapace around our selfishness, impenetrable even by the love of God because we won't let Him in.

In his encyclical Humani generis Pope Pius XII wrote:
God lets Himself be seen by those who are able to see Him because they have the eyes of their soul open. Everyone has eyes, but the eyes of some are blinded as it were in darkness, and they cannot see the light of the sun,. But the light of the sun does not cease to shine simply because these sightless ones fail to see it; rather is this darkness due to their own inability to see. (no. 12, 1950)
Whether we believe God or not, He is here. Whether we believe Jesus Christ or not, He is nevertheless the way, the truth and the life. Let us ask God to increase our faith and to help unbelievers to believe so that they will see and know the beauty, truth and love of God.

Father Stanley

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