Intentions of the Holy Father for April

Ecology and Justice. That governments may foster the protection of creation and the just distribution of natural resources.
Hope for the Sick. That the Risen Lord may fill with hope the hearts of those who are being tested by pain and sickness.

Putting Faith in Action

Today's Gospel reading is disturbing (Fri after XVII Sun of O.T., cycle C1; Lv 23:1-37 al. ex.; Ps 81; Mt 13:54-58) because it ends on an empty note: "And he did not work many mighty deeds there because of their lack of faith," (Mt 13:58). The Son of the Living God, by whom the universe was created, entered into someplace and yet had little effect on it. It makes one think of the parable of the sower that Jesus had just told (Mt 13:1-8), and specifically of the seeds scattered on the hard path and carried off by birds before they could ever take root (Mt 13:4). Though Jesus preached to his people, it did not change their lives. It is only if we are willing to let the Gospel message concretely change the way that we do things that Jesus will be able to change our lives. That much only makes sense. Is that how people view faith, though?

How many of us think that having great faith is something like "believing really hard," or "believing really firmly?" Faith is the beginning of the life of God in us. It is a seed that gets in, sinks roots, grows, and in the process undermines and overthrows everything else in us that opposes it, like an acorn planted under a house might eventually uproot the very foundations of that place. If faith does not uproot the worldliness in our lives, it is not faith but only a bunch of ideas about God. For faith to uproot the worldliness in our lives we must be willing to let go of worldly things. We have to get rid of any ideas, attitudes, posessions, relationships, aspirations, or whatever else in us that conflicts with God's will. If we are unwilling to let go of them, trusting that God will provide better replacements in abundance, do we really have faith in Him? If we are not willing to let go of those things what room do we leave Him to put something new into our life? Those things might not even be bad in themselves (as alcohol is not), but if they are not good for us (as alcohol is not good for an alcoholic), clinging to them prevents God from replacing them with something better (like sobreity). If we are not willing to be changed, he will not change us. The difficulty is that most of us are, deep down inside, convinced that we are more or less OK, though on another level we know that we do have things about us that need fixing. So we must ask God even to change, to increase, our willingness to change. Our lack of faith in God is the only thing that prevents him from "doing many mighty deeds."

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