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Strength of Faith

Many of Jesus’ disciples who were listening said, “This saying is hard; who can accept it?”

Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember to focus on our Strength of Faith.

We are at the culmination of our five-week detour into the sixth chapter of the Gospel according to St. John, the discourse on the bread that came down from heaven which we must eat to have eternal life. Next week our study on Strength of Faith returns to Mark’s gospel account.

Some people can go about their life never having their faith tested. It is rare, but it does happen. They face no confrontation. They experience no difficulty. No criticism is encountered. They never have to choose between representing Jesus or just going along. For the rest of us, we have faced and will have to face those moments.

I want to clearly distinguish that God does not send challenges to test us. He is not the god of the science lab where we all get mixed and shaken until we either wither or explode. That said, the world is what it is, worldly. So, we face tests.

Sometimes we face the test of education. That is the moment in which someone who wants to understand God better confronts us and asks for an explanation. Here is where we can shine, not by being all philosophical and theological, but by recounting what the experience of Jesus and His Church hold for us.

Here’s what I would say and have said: In meeting God in Church each week I am renewed and refreshed. I find order in my life, peace, the necessary quiet that is lacking in the world. I can face challenges knowing that God has me in His hands. I am reassured even in the hardest times. And I am blessed doubly and triply over.

Sometimes we face the test of hatred, disdain, and the sin of human arrogance. Here too we can shine as the presence of Christ in the world. If we react as the world would have us react, we belong to the world. If we however react as Christ would, then we have citizenship in heaven.

Yes, I have faced those moments, and I have learned to react in only one way, a word or gesture of peace and kindness. It is rarely accepted, but my conscience is clean, and I maintain my citizenship. Sometimes (especially online) it is by not reacting, by silence.

At some point or another, unless we are that extremely rare person, we will be challenged. Will we: As a result of this return to our former way of life and no longer accompany Him? Or will we too say: “Master, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life.”

Strength of Faith and our growth in faith may be tested at any moment. In that moment let us, His disciples, say: This is hard; but I accept it!