7 May 2008. Wednesday of the 7th Week of Easter
Acts 20, 28-38; John 17, 11-19 How to be Steep in Faith
The first reading and the Gospel are like parallel stories. They both speak about the challenges Christian face in the world. Paul warns them about the “wolves” and those that pervert the truth. Jesus prays that the Father protect His disciples from the “Evil One” and those who will come to hate them. Paul and Jesus then bid their flocks goodbye; having their trust in God that their prayers will be heard.
This scene happens often in daily life. How many times have we left our homes, afraid that something bad might happen to our children? The recent youth survey tells us that even the young are afraid of being victims of heinous crimes. In fact this insecurity makes parents overbearing and overprotective of their children. On the other hand, those who trust the Lord are the ones who know that when we cannot protect our loved ones, God protects them. This is, for most people, the practical role of faith: it helps us accept that we have to help our children protect themselves without us.
In faith life, the fear of Jesus and Paul remains to be true. We are plagued by many distractions every day. Billboards vie for our attention. The fast pace of metropolitan living makes little time for deep reflection. We take in anything that comes our way, and hope that we will find time in the future to sort things out. We become uncritical of the things we see and experience, because there is simply no time to run through them one by one; we too have to beat life’s deadlines.
But this is precisely the environment for the Jesus-haters, the wolves and the perverts, and the Evil One. Literally and metaphorically, the new generations hate the light: the truth is far painful, morality is relative to one’s taste, and they are afraid. The wolves prey on these unsuspecting cattle.
To be steadfast in our faith can be achieved by sustained updating. We solidify our foundation by getting to know our faith. We should know our doctrines and read the Scriptures regularly, making them part of our life. We can be active and participating in our worship. Moreover, it is also important to ask questions about the faith. Many think that when we question the faith, we are ‘doubting’ it --- educated people know that that is stupidity. When our whys are answered, we discover that our faith is reasonable. Church teachings develop as the sciences provide data. These new data helps theologians ‘revise’ teachings. Our scientific knowledge of the world of Jesus helps us understand the context of the Scriptures better.
However, to be informed is not enough. It should be accompanied by personal reflection and prayer. Not the mechanical and oral prayers that we do: but a time spent alone with God, and moments of retreat and quiet prayer. The bible passages are very rich; but we cannot discover its richness unless we stop and give them some time to sink into our hearts.