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Keeping Faith Alive

BE STILL AND KNOW THAT I AM GOD.

Be in your prayer space, follow the usual steps and settle into silence.

Sit still…..Relax…….Do not rush………

Now from the depth of your heart begin to wish your mind well……….

Take a moment. Bless your day. Let your day Bless you……Take another moment. Bless your world. Let your world bless you……

We bring our meditation on keeping our faith alive to a closure. We now take a moment to recapture some of the significant inspiration from previous meditations.

Keeping our faith alive means living noble and virtuous lives and for us it means the practice of Christian virtues. Living virtuous lives has become a very challenging and difficult and even troublesome work in the modern world where a culture of suspicion has been developing over many years, where fear keeps us from entering each other’s lives, where selfishness has become the norm and where consumerism has become a way of life.

It is not always easy to live noble and virtuous lives when the contrary is much simpler and easier. We live with many limitations, weaknesses and imperfections. We also live in a society that does not always encourage virtuous living. It takes courage and lots of it to live noble and virtuous lives, to keep our faith alive.

Patience is another virtue that enables us to persevere in our efforts to do what we are called to do and be faithful on our journey. Patience is faith alive in difficult situations, testing times, death and dying moments and in uncertain and confusing seasons.

Patience is self-discipline and self-control. Patience is the quality of being steadfast, firm and persevering in purpose. St. Paul advises us, “Be steadfast, persevering, my beloved brothers, fully engaged in the work of the Lord” (1:Cor.15:58).

St. Paul advises us as he did the Galatians, “Let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9)…Be patient!

St. James advises us as he did the early Christians. “Be patient, therefore, brothers, until the coming of the Lord. See how the farmer waits for the precious fruit of the earth, being patient about it, until it receives the early and the late rains. You also, be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the Lord is at hand. Do not grumble against one another, brothers, so that you may not be judged; behold, the Judge is standing at the door. As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful. … (James 5:7-12)

St. Francis De Sales advises us…..
    

Be patient with everyone but especially with yourself; I mean that you should not be troubled about your imperfections and that you should always have courage to pick yourself up afterwards. There is no better way of getting there in the end in the spiritual life than always starting all over again and never thinking that you have done enough.

Have you ever watched a spider? The spider will spend many hours, in great effort spinning a web. As the spider spins the web, the key factor will become patience. Many hours after the web is completed, the spider waits and waits. The spider must be very still and quiet. The spider has a plan, but the plan can never develop without patience.

As the spider waits, one day the spider will feel the web moving, the food has come suddenly. But there was nothing sudden about it. It was patience released.

It takes a lifetime of striving, struggling, making mistakes, failing and yet with much success and joy to learn to live authentic and faithful lives. It often means leaving the past in the hands of the Lord, starting over and making new beginnings. Glory is not in never failing but in rising every time you fall and keep going…..

The disciples prayed to their master: “Increase our faith” (Luke 17:5) and the Lord said, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed….you will be able to uproot a sycamore tree” (Luke 17:6).

The imageries of mustard seed and sycamore tree seem to imply that the apostles possessed the “gift” of faith. All they had to do was to live it, unwrap the gift they had, translate it into action and see to its maintenance and care – they had to nurture it and give it life.

Though Israel had been organized and ordered by God, though they had been cleansed, set apart and blessed, they still had to be guided by God each step of the way to make it to the Promised Land. God had not done all those previous things to make them able to start towards the Promised Land on their own, but to make every step in constant dependence on Him.

The Psalmist sings with confidence and let us join the psalmist in singing today: “Your word is a lamp for my feet….and a light unto my path (Ps.119:105)…every step of the way!

Believers today must, in the same way, be led by the presence of God. St. Paul says, let the peace of God rule in your hearts (Colossians 3:15)…..the presence of God’s peace is to govern our hearts…..the Lord is near and our lives should be lived out with that belief.

Just as Moses became awakened to God and God’s presence in an extraordinary event – a bush burning, but not consumed, we, too, must awake to God and God’s presence in our own events, ordinary or extraordinary. God asked Moses to simply rely on His presence in all that would happen. God asks of us the same thing.

Take another moment….Pray Psalm 23 when you have time…..But for the moment pray the following verses…..

Even though I walk in the dark valley…..risky, scary, dangerous valley, I fear no evil…..

For you are at my side….ever, faithfully present,

With your rod and your staff that give me courage…..

Only goodness and kindness follow me…all the days of my life…..

And I shall dwell in the house of the Lord for years to come…abiding in God’s love!!

Keeping our faith alive means making daily and difficult choices consistent with who we are, choices that reflect our character and according to the values that we have chosen and affirmed as our own.

God’s people must choose to live godly lives, choose God’s way and be faithful to God in all matters of life. This choice however is very demanding because the freedom that comes from choosing God’s Way is always very demanding. True freedom limits us to choose only that which fits our nature, our character and the opposite is absence of or lack of true freedom. True freedom is freedom to be……it is the freedom of the children of God.

Jesus was once asked whether only a few would be saved (Luke 13:22-30). Behind this question was the belief that only the Jews would be saved and not the gentiles. Jesus responded by telling them that entrance into the kingdom was not automatic…membership in the Jewish community or any faith community did not guarantee entrance into the kingdom. He called them to make difficult choices and make the difficult journey….the door is narrow, he said. He himself was making his way to Jerusalem to face rejection and eventual death.

We know how narrow the path forward can be when we face life-altering decisions. We are often confronted with situations where all our options must give way to one choice. No one else can make the decision for us and no one else would suffer the consequences of that decisions. All our choices will come to this narrow “gate” that will define who we are, how we live and even define us into the future. We must walk through the narrow gate and enter the kingdom and keep our faith alive!

Paul encouraged Timothy to “stir into flame the gift of God….and never be ashamed of witnessing to the Lord…” and to bear hardship for the Gospel…
(2 Timothy 1:6-8, 13-14)

Fan into flame the spark that is within you! Stir into flame the gift of faith. Keep the prayer going: Lord, increase our faith and keep your faith alive!

Paul advised the Corinthians, “Be steadfast, persevering, my beloved brothers, fully engaged in the work of the Lord” (1:Cor.15:58).

We must be deliberate and intentional and stay focused on our journey if we wish to keep our faith alive. We must invest and work with whatever little faith we have, however small our faith may be. This means making daily and difficult choices consistent with who we are, choices that reflect our character and according to the values that we have chosen and affirmed as our own.

St. Paul wrote to the Philippians (3:7-21) to press forward in Christ…..leaving all else behind and moving forward to where He is leading….I am racing to grasp the prize if possible since I have been grasped by Christ…I give no thought to what lies behind but push on to what is ahead…my entire attention is on the finish line as I run toward the prize to which God calls me…it is important to stay on course no matter what stage we have reached……

St. Paul advised the Ephesians (5:1-21) to be imitators of God as His dear children…Be imitators of God…..follow the way of love…live as children of light…discern what pleases the Lord…try to discern the will of God…Defer to one another out of reverence for Christ!

Paul says to the Philippians, “to me life means Christ”! “Conduct yourselves in a way worthy of the Gospel of Christ” (Philippians 1:12-30).

God is faithful where God is….. He is steadfast, unfailing in His Love! We are called to be faithful where we are….to be steadfast on our journey…to keep our faith alive!

Full of life and energy or tired and weary, let us choose to be faithful.

It is not difficult to recite a creed, but to live the Christian life is demanding and challenging and often difficult.

Self-surrender is a sure way of keeping faith alive. Surrendering to God and obeying His will and purpose for your life brings you into the abundance of his life and love that Jesus came to offer, “I have come so that you may have life to its fullness (John 10:10)” . If you hang on to your desires, plans and rights, you may be happy for a while, a satisfaction for the moment, a sense of accomplishment for the present, or a temporary relief from stress or longing.

We are often tempted with transitory longings, desires of the moment, cravings for the passing pleasures of life. Surrender these passing, perishable longings to God, ride them out, choose obedience, rise above them, reach beyond them and attend to the deeper longings of your heart, the desire for God and God’s ways.

Live in such a way, that those who know you but don’t know God will come to know God because they know you. Carry your faith for a while and your faith will carry you and hold you tenderly when things aren’t going your way.

Let us strive to be true to ourselves, to be authentic in all we say and do, to be steadfast in living our faith and keep our faith alive. May the “Year of Faith” be God’s wonderful gift to you and I pray that you will make it a gracious and joyful gift to others.

 Keep your faith alive and your faith will keep you alive!

Fr. Gus Tharappel, msfs