18 July 2012

The saving power of a childlike faith

15th Week OT (W)
Fr. Philip Neri Powell, OP
St. Dominic Church, NOLA

Our Lord declares to his apostles and to us that he comes among us to slash the bonds of sin and bring peace btw heaven and earth, btw God the Father and His fallen creatures. With the bonds of sin forever cut, those who claim their freedom in Christ will find themselves uncomfortably set apart from those who choose to remain slaves to disobedience. The peace he establishes btw heaven and earth disrupts whatever temporary, worldly peace we might hope for in this life. Christ's explosive entrance into human history as a squalling baby and his bloody exit as an executed criminal uncovers a divine plan for creation's redemption. That plan can only be revealed. It cannot be deduced from evidence, discovered by exploration, or guessed at by chance. What God has hidden, no man may find. . .unless God Himself shows the way. In the presence of his apostles, Jesus praises the Father, saying, “. . .for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.” The sword Christ wields against the bonds of sin creates another division: those who trust their own judgment and those who trust the way of the Lord. 

We might rightly wonder why learning and worldly wisdom prevents us from seeing and following the way to God's hidden truths. Knowing is not trusting. If you tell me that you trust your spouse's fidelity b/c your private detective lets you know what he/she is doing all day, every day, I would say to you that you might know that your spouse is being faithful but you do not trust his/her faithfulness. If you tell me that you trust in God b/c scientists now know that the laws of nature have an intelligent designer, I would say to you that you might know that there is an intelligent designer but you do not trust him. Knowing is not trusting; knowledge is not faith. Faith is freely invested, freely endowed. Faith is recklessly given, surrendered. Trust that results from evidence, experiment, exploration is not trust. At most, it's a feeling of confidence, a provisional grant that assures you. If your faith is based on the testimony of miracles, apparitions, locutions, based on anything other than the apostolic witness of the Church and your own experience with the power of Christ's sword to sever the bonds of sin, then your trust is not trust; it's knowledge. And knowing is not trusting. Knowledge is not faith. 

Does this mean that knowledge has no place in the life of faith? Absolutely not! It means that all that we come to know we know as those who have given their trust to God. It means that we begin with faith, a childlike trust in God, and then we walk His way to a more profound Truth, to those truths that take us behind and beyond the knowledge that reason alone acquires. Worldly learning and wisdom cannot reveal God's truth, but they can both supplement, lend strength to all that God has revealed. The trap we must avoid is the belief that knowing all there is to know about creation tells us all there is to know about the Creator. If—in some possible future—we come to know the most fundamental elements and operations of the universe, exhaust every scientific tool we have in the exploration of matter, energy, force, motion, space, and time, and uncover the unifying law of nature, we have learned no more about trusting God than a child learns by loving his mom and dad. Loving God is knowing God. If you will know God, then love Him and love all that He has created. No matter how much we might learn, how wise we might become, nothing can replace the saving power of faith. 

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1 comment:

  1. You've got some great stuff in here today - divine plan can only be revealed..."knowing is not trusting"..."faith is recklessly given"...and then faith to Truth to beyond to "loving God is knowing God". Awesome final paragraph, especially last three sentences.

    Gold star :-).