Saturday, January 31, 2009

Faith is to believe what we cannot see; and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.

A long time ago, Abraham was called to leave his homeland, and to travel to a place he would receive as his inheritance. He went, even though he didn’t know where he was going, or how long it would take to get there. Later, he was told that he and Sarah would have a child, even though he was an old man, and she was well beyond the age of childbearing. He believed, because he trusted the one who had made the promise. Then, he was told to bring his son Isaac to the top of a mountain, build an altar of sacrifice, and offer the boy to God as a holocaust. And he did what he was asked to do, reasoning that God could raise his son from the dead, and when he saw a lamb caught in a thicket, he offered it as a substitute sacrifice, knowing that, figuratively speaking, he had received his son back from the dead.

One day, as evening drew near, Jesus said to his disciples: “Let’s cross over to the other side of the lake”. They took Jesus with them in the boat, leaving the crowd behind. While they were on the lake, a violent squall came up, and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was nearly swamped. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. The disciples woke him up and said to him, “Rabbi, don’t you care if we drown?” He asked them, “What are you afraid of? Have you no faith?” Then he got up, rebuked the wind, and told the waves: “Quiet! Be still!” The wind died down, and it was completely calm. They were awe-struck and asked each other, “Who is this? Even the winds and the waves obey him!”

If I were to ask you what the opposite of faith was, it is likely you would say, Doubt. But in these scripture passages, about Abraham and about the disciples of Jesus, it seems that the opposite of faith is fear. When Abraham left Ur in Chaldea and traveled to the valley of the Jordan, there were times he was afraid. When God asked him to bring Isaac to the mountain top, he was terrified that he might lose his son. When the winds rose and the boat got swamped, the disciples were afraid of drowning. But, in the long run, both the patriarch and the disciples learned to trust the word of God, and their faith cast out fear.

Faith is to believe what we cannot see; and the reward of faith is to see what we believe.
Saint Augustine

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