By Zoe Cannon
Gratitude for the Gift of Faith
“Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible” (Hebrews 11:1-3).
The Letter to the Hebrews is traditionally attributed to St. Paul the Apostle, or believed to be the work of another Jewish Christian. The author could have been St. Barnabas or one of Paul’s other disciples. It was composed during the last half of the 1st century and is the 19th book of the New Testament canon. A good read for the times we live in.
It was written to encourage the Christian community to persevere in faith by following the heroic examples of others. The letter was written because faith was faltering. This broad explanation of faith provided in the New Testament describes what authentic faith does, not what it actually is. Through faith, God promises the blessings from Him will eventually come to pass. The early Christians had an even greater reason to remain firm in faith and accept God’s guarantee of the future. Unlike Old Testament men and women of faith, they observed the beginning of the fulfillment of His messianic promises. The advantage we have, as Catholic Christians with over 2,000 years of salvation history, is that traditions and teachings can never be understated. The Church provides wonderful opportunities for us to grow in our faith every day!
How do you demonstrate faith in God? As I look back on the six decades of my life, I recognize something important about growing in faith; we cannot do it alone! I believe actions are often great indications of how a person is living the faith. I would watch people in church when I was a child, and often found very different manner and practice from people in the pews. The intention and reverence in receiving the Eucharist were particularly telling. I knew they were receiving Jesus, but I wondered if they understood? As a young adult, I stopped focusing on other people and began concentrating on my relationship with God in prayer. I became a wife and mother, and realized my faith was much more than things I could view from the pew. I began to understand what authentic faith did for my life. It was no longer just something I desired to have; it was the way I wanted to live.
During my daily walk on high school property, I observed a coach running with his students. It was a cold day, and the wind was strong. I could see the athletes were struggling and had probably been running for a while. The encouragement from the coach and his strong example as he ran alongside them seemed to have a positive effect. I noticed that long after the students completed their workout, the coach continued running. I could see that his discipline and training-with-purpose made him strong. Every challenge in life requires more than self-motivation; we need the encouragement and leadership of others.
“We must consider how to rouse one another to love and good works. We should not stay away from our assembly, as is the custom of some, but encourage one another, and this all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
God spoke through the Prophets of the Old Testament, and God’s final word is through His Son. Christ’s reign over any other paradigm helps us persevere in faith, so we may live a life pleasing to God. Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Amen!