Lord, Increase our Faith
The apostles ask Jesus:" Increase our faith" (Lk 17:5). In the first place, what does it mean to have faith? Asking this question is an excellent place to start our reflections on the request made by the apostles to the Lord in this Sunday's Gospel. To have faith is to have received the grace, the gift of trust in God, and all the truth he has revealed to us about himself. My answer may not be sufficient or fully satisfying, but it derives from the Act of Faith I had to memorize when preparing for the Sacrament of Confirmation decades ago. Br. Emmanuel, my catechist, made us learn and understand acts of faith, hope, and love as part of the requirements for fulfilling coursework for confirmation class. So, for me, the act of faith is an answer to the question, what does it mean to have faith?
In the act of faith, we affirm our belief that God is one made of three divine persons, and his Son, Jesus, became incarnate to save us from sin and grant us salvation. The prayerful proclamation also affirms our belief in all truths taught by the Holy Catholic Church because God revealed them, and God by his nature cannot deceive; hence, the truth he revealed is trustworthy. Faith is trust in God's love for us and our response to that love. Only by faith can we make meaning of whatever life throws at us. Faith is a supernatural gift that nevertheless demands the cooperation of our will. We must act on the gift of faith; it is a gift that bears fruit from our corresponding working with the grace it offers. Once we accept the gift of faith, we must nourish it because it can become weak and even die.
How do we keep our faith alive and fruitful? We must confirm our faith daily by prayer and meditation. We must strengthen it through constant study of the word of God and persistent devout reception of the sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. Also, we must nurture our faith through a life of religious piety. Devotion to Mary, the saints, and our Guardian Angels is also very instrumental. We must not forget to confess at mass our belief in the real presence by using the words of Thomas in addressing the consecrated host: "My Lord and my God." We must always act on our faith. Inspired by the Holy Spirit, we must be bold to act in faith in the situation of danger and needs. We must pray to the Lord daily the Thomas' act of faith: Lord, please increase my faith.
May our Lord Jesus Christ increase our faith.
Fr. Bernard, OP