All Saints Day. The cream of the crop who had A+ in faithfulness to God. The crazy ones who broke boundaries in staying faithful to God. The real people that trusted God with their entire lives. What is up with them?
It is commonly said that faith is a gift. We all know the concept of gifts, it’s something that is freely given by another person to show some kind of affection or celebration. Technically you can’t demand for it. So when we think of faith as a gift, it’s like God will give us some imaginary box of inspiration that will completely blow our mind away when we are deemed worthy.
I attribute this idea to countless cartoons that portray this idea of hypnotizing. After all, faith is this great thing that pushes us to do things we wouldn’t normally do, be it some unknown strength to carry out a task to severe patience in dealing with people.
So I can’t just have faith right? It needs to be given? I guess I can just sit and wait for God to give it to me, and subsequently I’ll be ‘on fire’ and living some crazy saintly life for God. Eventually.
With all these thoughts, I wondered to myself, do I have faith? Faith for me is going to weekday Mass even though I know I won’t be very awake. Faith is volunteering my gifts and talents and not seeing much impact on the community whatsoever. Faith is saying yes to marriage even though the road ahead looks treacherous and tediously self sacrificial.
When I was 17, I struggled so much with having nothing but
faith loyalty. I couldn’t play the guitar, I crack a little when I sing, I’m as shy as a church mouse and prayer? I couldn’t even say one sentence that sounded sincere. All I could do was just turn up for events, for Mass and just sit around people. When I attempted to pray at night, it usually started with “I feel like I’m talking to a wall, so uh.. give me some faith? God?”. It sounds very much like Bartimaeus, a blind beggar, shouting out to Jesus “Son of David, have pity on me!” (Mk10:46-52), to which Jesus replied “Go, your faith has saved you”. That’s it? we just have to shout to Jesus and he’ll work some magic?
From all that, I concluded that faith is a gift, but it is also a choice. Faith is an active choice. The prayer is not just “ Lord, give me a little bit of faith” but also “Lord, help me to be faithful to you”
During sharing that week we discussed “faith seeking understanding”, It is a saying by St Augustine and popularised by Saint Anselm. He explains it quite a bit, but what struck me is that there is the pursuit of truth, it isn’t a baseless faith, it’s not directionless questions. On a good day, it is “an active love of God seeking a deeper knowledge of God”, but more often than not, when it’s hard to put God in the picture, it’s about seeking understanding, being truthful, honest and basically very real with yourself.
A very big part of me just trusts that if you look for truth, and you are real, you will find God. I was also edified by this testimony by Jennifer Fulwiler. I believe that everyone has the gift of faith, we all have this oddly special capacity to go beyond ourselves, perhaps all we are called to do then is to be open and courageous enough to act in faith.
We probably can’t go to church and expect ourselves to have some faith automatically land on our laps. Just like how we can have faith in another person we love, we have to know who the person is to have faith in a person. Similarly, we have to find out who God is to have faith in him. We have to question ourselves. Everyday. More faith, more love. More love, more faith.
Coming back to the Saints and the gospel this week, another friend made me question myself “Do I really want the beatitudes?”. As I took another look through that lens and saw how tough it was, “Blessed are they who mourn…hunger and thirst…merciful…persecuted…abuse you.” I shuddered at the thought of having to go through all that pain, but you know what? If it’s for God the answer is