Faith as Fidelity, Trust, and obedience

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    Gospel according to Luke (17:5-10)

    THE APOSTLES said to the Lord, “Increase our faith.” The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.

    Who among you would say to your servant who has just come in from plowing or tending sheep in the field, ‘Come here immediately and take your place at table’? Would he not rather say to him, ‘Prepare something for me to eat. Put on your apron and wait on me while I eat and drink. You may eat and drink when I am finished’? Is he grateful to that servant because he did what was commanded? So should it be with you. When you have done all you have been commanded, say, ‘We are unprofitable servants; we have done what we were obliged to do.’”

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    Faith can be summarized in three basic and interrelated features: fidelity, trust, and obedience.

    The first reading from the prophet Habakkuk speaks of fidelity. The prophet was complaining that all he saw was outrage, violence, and quarrels (Hb 1:3). The Lord answered by saying that “the upright…will live by his faithfulness (2:4). What this passage from the prophet tells every Christian is that in human life many times those who are wicked—the unjust, the crooks, the liars, the tyrants—will take the upper hand and enjoy the blessings that the world can offer. Thus there is a great temptation for everyone to let go of moral values and the universal principles of uprightness, consequently succumbing to the lure of wickedness and its worldly rewards. A person who has a deep faith, however, will never surrender the moral requirements of that faith. He or she will keep fidelity intact. As the prophet Habakkuk says, “the upright will live by his faithfulness.”

    Trust is another fundamental feature of faith. Faith as we know it always implies a certain obscurity, a living in mystery. We can never expect a perfect understanding of the truths we believe. Many times, we cannot present a scientific evidence about them. However; faith’s lack of evidence is compensated by the believer’s confidence in the one who speaks: the God who can neither deceive nor be deceived, the God who is all-knowing and almighty. Thus, the believer completely abandons himself or herself in God’s hands. As the second letter of Paul to Timothy tells us: “Do your Share in laboring for the Gospel with the strength of God (2 Tm 1:8). Moreover, we can keep and zealously protect the deposit of faith be-cause we trust “in the help of the Holy Spirit who lives in us” (1:14).

    Lastly, faith can be manifested through obedience to God Who calls man to walk with him, to live in an intimate friendship with him. This is exemplified by Abraham who by faith “obeyed when he was called to go out to a place which he was to receive as an inheritance; and he went out not knowing where he was to go” (Heb 11:8; cf. Gn 12:1-4). Likewise, Abraham also obeyed God who asked him to offer his only son, Isaac, in sacrifice (cf. Heb 11:17). However, we know that God was just testing how deep the faith of Abraham was in terms of his obedience. This fundamental feature of faith as obedience is dealt with in the Gospel reading which enjoins every Christian to do what is commanded (Lk 17:9), without thinking of any entitlement to any reward or blessing as a consequence of doing his or her duty. This means that a Christian who obeys must already find joy in every act of obedience. God who is just and who can never be outdone in generosity will surely make that joy complete. – Fr.Virgilio Ojoy, OP