August 8, 2021
Today, many are losing their faith. Faith is hard. Is there anything you can do for your faith? Jesus, in this Gospel, show us the 3 key elements of an act of faith.
- Even at the cross, people’s faith was shaken due to the attacks of the religious leaders, the abandonment and denials from Jesus’s apostles and the appearance that God was absent and abandoned Him.
- Today, faith in Jesus is attacked by Church experts, the contamination by evil in the Church and what seems like God’s abandonment of His people.
- We make an act of faith in difficult situation in three elements.
- First element is eternal signs. Signs are very important and we have to seek them with an open heart.
- Second element is the interior grace of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit moves the heart to convert it to God. Human efforts are not sufficient, there needs to be divine assistance.
- Third element is our free response. Each person has to decide whether or not to accept the action of the Holy Spirit. Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never forced them.
Faith, especially today is often very difficult. But God gives us signs to help us, if we’re attentive to those signs. Like one way, simply reading scripture, the Scripture is a sign. He also gives us the second element, an interior Grace, the help of the Holy Spirit. Jesus says, no one can come to me unless the Father draw him. The third part is our free response.
The good news is you don’t have to do this all by yourself, there is the help of the Holy Spirit. We invoke Him at the beginning of Mass, He is present with us.
God is helping, God is drawing, the Holy Spirit is acting in each soul. But each person has to decide whether they’re going to accept that action of the Holy Spirit, that attraction of God or not.
“They murmured about Jesus because He said, I am the bread that came down from heaven. And they said, Isn’t this Jesus son of Joseph? Don’t we know His father and mother? Then how can He say, I came down from heaven?” That doesn’t make sense to them. They’ve known Jesus and His family, they know He’s from Nazareth. How can He say He came from heaven. And so, remember the situation here, Jesus has just worked the great miracle of feeding 1000s with the multiplying the loaves and fishes. And now He’s preparing the revelation of the bread of life, that the bread, His bread, which is the Holy Eucharist. But this is a very difficult thing to believe. And so, He’s trying to prepare them by faith, because it’s only in faith, that they will be able to accept this. And what’s happening here is that they’re losing their faith in Jesus. They were very enthusiastic when He just worked the miracle, but as they begin to talk, many begin to lose their faith. So that’s a disaster, right? And what kind of a preacher, the more he preaches, the more people lose their faith. That’s not a good sign, right? So, what is so challenging to hear that as He explains it, that many are losing their faith? And we know that today, especially many people are losing or have lost their faith in Jesus? So, this is a very challenging question, faith, sometimes, and especially today, faith is hard. Faith is often very hard. One of the reasons that it can be hard is because of what is revealed. Like in this example, so that people say, “Isn’t this Jesus, the son of Joseph, don’t we know his father and mother? How can you say it came from heaven, because according to human reason, according to our human reason, it doesn’t make sense to us. Now we can understand that Jesus is talking in two different ways. According to His flesh, He came from Nazareth, but according to His divinity, He comes from heaven. And so, it actually does make sense, but it wasn’t apparent to them. So sometimes it’s hard to believe something because it seems contradictory to us, it doesn’t make sense to us. But sometimes there’s also other reasons, like at the cross, when Jesus was at the cross, a lot of people’s faith was shaken, or destroyed at that moment. But why? Because of the attacks that the religious leaders of His people were attacking Him and accusing Him. That’s one reason, but another reason was because His own apostles, we know His own apostles, one of them, denies, betrays Him, another denies Him, most of the others abandon Him. So that’s not very helpful. But perhaps the worst thing at the cross is it seems like God is absent, that God has abandoned Him and letting Him suffer. And so, people’s faith is shaken at the cross, even those who believed in Jesus. And I think that’s important to realize today, because many people, many, many people’s faith has been shaken today. Because Jesus and faith in Jesus is being attacked by many who seem to be experts. But also perhaps worse is the sins within the members of the Church. The Church has been contaminated by evil, infiltrated and that’s one of the worst things, the terrible abuses that made the news. But perhaps even worse, again, today, is when it seems like God is absent, that He’s abandoning His people, He’s abandoning His Church, He’s letting the innocent suffer. And so, for all these reasons, our faith can be shaken like at the cross. The Catechism says faith is often lived in darkness, and can be put to the test. The world we live in often seems very far from the one promised us by faith, seems very far. Our experience of evil and suffering and justice and death, the Catechism says, seem to contradict the good news of the gospel. They can shake our faith and become a temptation. against it. So, I think that’s happening today. So how can we make an act of faith in such a difficult situation? Is there anything we can do about it? Or is it just something that happens or doesn’t happen, that we can lose it just by an accident. And so, it’s important to realize that there’s a lot we can do, a lot with what we can, a lot of difference that our own decisions can make in faith. And so today, I want to look at what this gospel, the three key elements of an act of faith. It’s important for us, it’s important for people that we’re trying to help. And so, the first element is external signs. We were talking about signs last week, the signs which lead us from what is visible to what is invisible. And so just thinking a normal human situation where you’re getting to know somebody, you’re trying to be, you’re attentive to signs to see, can I trust this person or not? And you listen to what they say, you look at how they act, you watch their body language to see, can I trust this person or not, because that’s a very important decision to make, can I trust this person? Can I have faith in this person or not. And so again, in those situations, were attentive to the signs. So, signs are very important. And the Catechism says that God gives signs of divine revelation, God Himself gives these that are adapted to our intelligence. So that the ascent of faith is by no means a blind impulse of the mind. That is, God gives signs that our intelligence can recognize. And one of the signs that’s mentioned is the Church. But sometimes the Church in some situations are a very powerful sign for many people. But sometimes, especially in a situation like today, where the Church is in a terrible crisis, it’s often an anti-sign. The catechism says that the Church’s growth and holiness and her fruitfulness and stability have been powerful signs. But again, when the Church is in crisis, then it seems to drive people away from their faith. But it also mentions the miracles of Jesus Christ, the whole series of His miracles, but especially the great miracle of His resurrection. And a couple of weeks ago, we were talking about how this person who is a cold case homicide detective, sought and found, he was an atheist, found a very strong evidence for His resurrection, the miracles of Jesus. And the saints, there’s many miracles of saints continuing today. For instance, someone like St. Padre Pio, so many miracles involved with him, or healings. Like there’s a young woman who often comes here with her family, who just a few years ago experienced a miraculous, immediate healing when she went into the waters of Lourdes. And that the Lourdes team will take many people with to Lourdes, that they’ve shared with us many miracles that they themselves have explained, miraculous healings. And I mentioned just last week, as mentioned examples like that, like the Shroud of Turin, like the miraculous image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, like the Eucharistic miracles, which have been very, very simply multiplied in these last decades. So, miracles, but also prophecies like in the scriptures. Often the gospel often speaks of Old Testament prophecies with many centuries before, which are accomplished in Jesus. Another sign is holiness, we see it in the holiness, in wisdom, of Scripture, of the Word of God, but also in the life of Jesus, His generosity, His mercy, His courage, His fidelity, and even what was a scandal for many, is His fidelity to His ultimate sacrifice on the cross. So there still are many signs, but these signs are often not things that are promoted by the mainstream media. So, we have to seek them and seek them with an open heart. For instance, many have shared with us examples of and what seems to be miraculous angelic interventions in their life. So, there are still many signs, signs from the past and signs today. But what we see in the Gospel is that people can see the same signs, and some believe and some don’t believe. So, the signs themselves are helpful, but they’re not sufficient. So, there’s a second element. And I’m picking up my watch, because I just realized that clock I was looking at in the back is stopped, so I would have gone on. And so, the second element, besides the signs, is also something else that the Lord gives, is the interior grace of the Holy Spirit, the interior grace. Jesus says – Well, what does He say? Well, when they’re struggling to understand this, and they’re discussing among themselves, He says, “Stop murmuring among yourselves, that’s not gonna get you the answer.” Because your neighbor is not going to help you find the answer. He says, “No one can come to Me, unless the Father draw him.” “No one can come to me, unless the Father draw him. So, Jesus is saying that human efforts are not sufficient, there also needs to be divine assistance, divine grace. The catechism says that faith is a grace, a gift of God, a supernatural virtue, infused by Him. That is not just something that we can do with our natural abilities, it’s a supernatural virtue, a gift from God. Before, the Catechism goes on, before this faith can be exercised, man must have the grace of God, to move in assistance. So, the Grace has to help us in an act of faith, we 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, to accept and believe the truth. So, the Holy Spirit moves the heart to convert it to God, and It opens the eyes of our mind, to accept and believe the truth. So, the good news about that is, you don’t have to do this all by yourself, there is the help of the Holy Spirit, and He is helping right now. We invoke Him at the beginning of this Mass, He is present with us, is present in your soul right now, acting, helping to act in in your heart, illuminating your mind. And so, we need, we are called to be open to Him, to this action of the Holy Spirit, in you, in your soul. , So, Jesus says that unless the Father draw Him and He draws us by the Holy Spirit. But how does He draw us? Does he draw like a fish that is hooked on a line, and that the fisherman reels in or like a stubborn goat that is lassoed and pulled, to force it to go where it doesn’t want to go? No, He doesn’t draw us in that way. He doesn’t force us. He helps us but He doesn’t force us, He leaves us free. And so that’s the second element, God’s grace, the act of the Holy Spirit, which is drawing us and helping us. But then there’s this third element, the third key element. It’s your free response. Your free response. Jesus says, “It is written in the prophets, they shall all be taught by God.” So, God offers this grace to all, He teaches, all by this interior help, this interior light or attraction. But even that’s not enough, because if God, if God is acting in all, and it gives the signs, how come we see in the Gospel of Jesus, even those who are listening to Him at that point, some believe, and some don’t. So, He goes on to say, …so God is helping, He’s drawing,… but He says, “everyone who listens to My Father,”… so He doesn’t say everyone, that God draws, responds. He doesn’t say everyone who God draws, responds. What else He says, “everyone who listens to My Father and learns from Him, comes to Me.” That is, God is helping, God is drawing, the Holy Spirit is acting in each soul. But each person has to decide whether they’re going to accept that action of the Holy Spirit that attraction of God or not. I was reading recently, an example of a Muslim, a young Muslim, his name was Nabeel Qureshi. And he was from a very devout educated Muslim family, very loving Muslim family. And his ancestors and his mom had been Muslim missionaries, so they were very educated and devoted to their Muslim faith. And so, he was a very accomplished debater. And so, he wanted to help. He wanted to help others, especially Christians, realize the truth of Islam and the error of Christianity. But as he goes on this journey, he begins to realize that the arguments he had against Christianity don’t really hold up. And he is eventually led to faith in Jesus. But it was very difficult for him because he felt even when he began to believe in Jesus, he felt that he would be betraying his family. And for many Muslims, even many Muslims have even died, even by the hands of their family, when they profess faith in Jesus. And so sometimes one of the obstacles to our belief is that we don’t want to believe, because of the sacrifices, sometimes extreme sacrifices, that the belief will bring. So, each person has to accept whether or not to believe, whether to accept this attraction. And sometimes there’s a lot of obstacles to that belief, things that we’re holding on to which we don’t want to let go of, sometimes even forms of idols. And so, God respects our freedom. He didn’t create us as robots or slaves, but He wants us to be His friends. And you can’t be a friend or someone by force, right? I order you to be my friend, right? You can’t force someone to be your friend. God respects our freedom. The catechism says man’s response to God by faith must be free. And therefore nobody has to be forced to embrace the faith against his will. Christ invited people to faith and conversion, but never forced them. Like Scripture says, “Behold, I stand at the door, and knock.” And so, to go back to that example of friendship, Jesus is inviting us to enter into a friendship, a divine friendship with Him. But that we have to decide whether we trust Him, whether we believe in Him enough. So, take the example from this gospel, He is offering us the food, the food of His teaching, the food, of truth, the food of Himself. But each person has to freely decide whether to accept Him, and the food He is offering or not. “Stop murmuring among yourselves, no one can come to Me, unless the Father draw him. And I will raise him on the last day. It is written in the prophets, they shall all be taught by God. Everyone who listens to My Father, and learns from Him, comes to Me.” So, to summarize, faith, especially today is often very difficult. But God gives us signs to help us. If we’re attentive to those signs, like one way, simply reading scripture, the Scripture is a sign. He also gives us the second element, an interior at Grace, the help of the Holy Spirit. But then the third part is our free response. And so that takes humility to recognize the limits of my intelligence. It takes the desire to seek the truth, and we often have to purify our motives of the idols in our life. So today, let’s ask Abraham the great example from the Old Testament and our Blessed Mother to help us In an act of faith. And right now in this Mass, you can be attentive to how the Holy Spirit is acting in your soul, drawing you to Jesus. And that’s the sense of Holy Communion. It is coming to Jesus. That’s the whole sense of our life, coming to Jesus. Jesus, I trust in you. Amen.