Strength of Faith
Humbly welcome the word that has been planted in you and is able to save your souls. Be doers of the word and not hearers only, deluding yourselves.
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.
As we return to the Gospel according to St. Mark, we are asked to pause in our growth in Strength of Faith to assess exactly how changed we are. How fully do we live as Jesus did? How do we walk the gospel walk?
Moses is presenting the Lord’s commandments to the people. These commandments were given by God in love to help His people to grow toward Him.
As you may recall from a few weeks back, the heart in Hebrew, the Lev, means the whole self. God was seeking the hearts of His people, a relationship with the whole self of each of them as individuals and them as a community. Through these laws they would live in relationship with Him and grow ever closer to Him in strength of faith.
We know our God is a God of relationship from the identity of God as Trinity, to His creation, to the salvation He won for us through the life, death, and resurrection of His Son, Jesus.
To remain in relationship, God gave us His Holy Spirit Who dwells with us and helps us in the process of loving Him more fully and deeply. He gave us each other, the reason I am so happy and blessed to be here in this time and moment where we are for each other.
So, today (and everyday) we are asked to assess how we are changed by our relationship with God, how our faith is strengthened, how deep we are willing to go with God and His Church. We also figure where we must improve.
The people Jesus encountered, the leaders and officials, no longer cared for depth of relationship. They left the heart behind and reduced relationship with God to motions and actions. They did not have Strength of Faith, but rather adherence to ritual for the sake of the ritual. Growth ended when life became mere performance.
St. James, writing less than a decade after Jesus Ascension, took the time to remind the people to live fully in Strength of Faith. We must not reduce our faith to motions but rather live it out. St. James says: Do not hold back, do not sell yourself short, be all-in just as God is all in for you. He tells us that we have been changed and we are to live changed from the top of our heads to the tips of our toes. He willed to give us birth by the word of truth that we may be a kind of firstfruits. We are a new creation.
We need to be whole-hearted, whole-self livers of new life in Jesus. We are something remarkably special. Let us then check-in on how we live changed and new in strength of faith.