Saturday, June 12, 2021


Walk in faith not by sight

The following reflection is based on the the the Second Letter of St Paul to the Corinthians 5: 6-10 & Mark 4:26-34

Jesus says that the Kingdom of God is like a mustard seed, when planted it will grow into the greatest of all shrubs.

When we read that line, we might wonder will the ‘seed of faith’ entrusted to us by our parents, planted at our baptism, will it survive in our children and grandchildren?

So, when we seed of faith struggling to take root in the next generation we might wonder why. We might  blame it on changes made in our church after Vatican II or the scandals of recent decades, or  the divisions created by the progressives and traditionalists groups in the church and so forth.

All these reasons make for interesting discussions, but it is more important to let the fruits of Jesus’ parable speak for itself.

Consider for a moment, who could have predicted that the seed of faith planted by Jesus on Calvary would grow into a worldwide church. Certainly the political and religious leaders of the day would not have predicted that. But they looked at Jesus through the lens of reason and worldly insights.

Who would have thought, when the church was plagued with scandals and divisions in the middle ages, that a young man who gave up his family wealth and dream of knighthood so he could imitate Jesus would see his desire grow into a world-wide religious congregation known as the Franciscans. Certainly, the local people and authorities of Assisi could not seed of faith flourishing in Francis when they initially judged him as a fool.  

Who would have predicted, as the world emerged from two World Wars and the Great Depression, that an idea of living and working with the poor would change the world. But the inspiration of a 39 year old Loretto Sister in 1946 would grow into a new religious order, the Missionaries of Charity, living and serving the poor, dying, orphans, lepers, and AIDS sufferers in more than 100 countries.

These few examples reflect the stories of the many men and women, lay and religious, throughout history where the seed of faith Jesus planted on Calvary took root and grew beyond expectations.

What each of these men and women had in common was what Saint Paul spoke about in his second letter to the Corinthians, they walked in faith not with sight.

In other words, they never tried to analyze or come up with reasons for the issues that divide churches, households, governments but simply walked in faith trusting in God rather than the wisdom of the world.

Now you might say, but these men and women were exceptional, who am I? Well, having served as a deacon in three different parishes, I saw many examples of men and women - who did exactly as our more famous and celebrated members of our church - walked in faith.

One example is a man I knew quite well. Although he had been raised Catholic by a very devout parents, somehow the seed of faith did not seem to flourish after he left home.

In his early sixties his father died. He arranged a Catholic funeral to fulfill his dad’s wishes, but did so out of duty not faith.

I am not sure exactly what happened, but I do know that during the Mass something occurred. At the reception following the Mass and burial he came over to me, and said, “How do I come back to Church?” He was in tears and explained his father had given him the gift of faith and until now he never understood the importance of that gift. And I can tell you, after his return, his faith flourished and produced fruit.

Knowing his parents, as I did, I know it was the way they lived their faith that made the difference. 

As this person’s father explained to me many years earlier when we talked about his son, he said: “I did my part, I walked in faith believing God will do his part.

St. Paul was right – walk in faith, not by sight – because we seldom see how the hand of God is at work.

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