Thursday, September 10, 2009

Faith is Relationship

Twenty Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year B

Many of you are familiar with your catechism. Let’s try. Who made you? God made us. Why did God make you? To love him, know him and serve him and be with him in paradise for all eternity. Who is Jesus? Jesus is God’s only son. Our Saviour and our Redeemer. Some of you are also able to list down the ten commandments.

Is this what faith is all about? Does faith mean memorizing our catechism? Today’s readings tells us that faith is more than mere statements of belief. Faith is more than learning our catechism. Faith is more than just knowing about God and Jesus. There is a big difference between knowing about something and really knowing that thing. Knowing about something or someone means that we have all the facts and information about that thing or person. But knowing someone means that we have a very special and intimate relationship with that person. The first has to do with knowledge alone. The second involves a relationship.

Therefore, our faith must not only remain at the level of knowledge. Our faith is first and foremost a relationship with God and with Jesus. In today’s gospel, we see the story of how Peter recognizes that Jesus is the Christ, the Anointed One of God. As the story develops, we come to understand that this recognition is only at the level of knowledge. Peter knew about Jesus but didn’t really knew him as a person. Jesus, therefore, sees the need to explain who he really is and what his mission entails. Jesus tells Peter for the first time that he must suffer grievously, be rejected by the elders and chief priests and scribes and finally be put to death. But after three days he will rise again. This is the part which Peter couldn’t understand. Peter was satisfied with the knowledge that Jesus was the Christ but could not accept the fact this Messiah must suffer and die.

Jesus corrects his understanding and further explains that if one is to become his disciple, if someone wants to have an intimate relationship with Jesus and not only be satisfied with knowing about Jesus, that person must be prepared to follow the same fate of Jesus. Faith of a disciple requires that he must be prepared to renounce himself and take up his cross and follow Jesus.

Therefore, our faith as Christians isn’t only about knowing our Catechism. Our faith isn’t only memorizing a set of beliefs. Our faith calls for conversion. It calls for commitment and finally it calls for action. St. James challenges us to show our faith through our good deeds. It is not enough to say that we have faith. Faith is proven through the lives we live. Faith is proven by our readiness to accept the cross of Jesus and follow him. Faith is proven when we are prepared to lose everything, even our lives knowing that “anyone who loses his life for Christ’s sake, and for the sake of the gospel, will save it.”

This is the faith which we profess. It is dangerous and a powerful thing to believe in God and Jesus, but it is also a rewarding thing to have the faith of a disciple. Today, let us examine our own faith. Is our faith only a faith taken from the catechism books? Is our faith only a safe kind of faith that tries to avoid trouble or the cross? If this is the kind of faith that we have, we are challenged to go deeper and further. We are challenge to think in God’s way and not man’s (taken from the gospel). We are asked to renounce ourselves, take up our cross and follow Jesus along the way of the cross, but also the way to eternal life and glory.

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