Faith and Inner Peace…are Proportional to what we Give Away
Many people struggle with their faith in God, but prefer not to talk about it, better to fit in with everyone else: less arguments! That’s good and bad. It’s good as it keeps us closer to the community, and nurtures faith to return through the ups and downs of life – hopefully stronger.
It’s bad because I avoid answering tough questions, and challenging my normal behaviour… although siblings are usually good at reminding us when we’re a pain in the neck!
We have the option of leaving, but we choose to stay for the good of the others. That staying “for the good of others” is a very important element which draws us out of ourselves to discover a whole new world that is more wonderful than our own small world.
St Paul hints at this in the 2nd Reading: “…but creation still retains the hope of being freed, like us, from its slavery to decadence, to enjoy the same freedom and glory as the children of God.”
When we have a good faith, “everything” kind of falls into place – we have an inner peace; & the things we don’t understand, we trust God will work out.
But the “stress” of these last few months has caused some people to lose their faith, while others say they feel closer to God. Surveys in Australia say the majority of families feel closer to each other because of the hardship and lockdown.
There are many reasons for losing your faith, and I apologise to those struggling with it, now, if I seem insensitive. One reason we lose our faith is because we lost it a long time ago, but a hardship period just makes us realise it. When things are going well, we sometimes hang on to God like an insurance policy: just in case He really exists, I don’t want to annoy Him!
But other reasons revolve around the experiences we have with those who say they have faith: priests behaving badly? “Clicky” selfish parishioners? Racism, elitism, etc?
But where can I find meaning in my life if I lose faith in God? Is the world just about me? Often, in the secular world, we find answers to complex situations, not by finding the correct answer but by eliminating the false answers: by process of elimination.
How does the Word of God “in Heaven” reach us here “on earth”, to give us Faith? The First Reading requires us to use our imagination. “…so the word that goes from my mouth does not return to me empty, without carrying out my will and succeeding in what it was sent to do.”
Today, I suggest we see each Word that God sends to the earth as each person on earth. In this time of the COVID-19 pandemic, many people have lost loved ones. I offer my thoughts and condolences to the families grieving at this time.
However, even without the pandemic, the normal course of life is for each one of us to die: we just hope it will be when we’ve a reached a good old age.
When we see the “sower” in today’s Gospel, we see how generous God is by sending so many people into our lives. Some we ignore, some we like, some we “hate”. It all depends on what’s happening to us during each period of our lives.
The amazing thing is that God never stops “sowing” the Word in the world around us. After falling on rocky ground, some kind person will pick us up. The question is: do we see this as God “sowing” the Word into my life?
When we fall into good times, the “produce” we create becomes part of God’s Word which helps another person. But how can we see or connect God’s Word(s) and our lives in a more concrete way? Fr Henri Nouwen speaks well when he says:
The contemplative life, therefore, is not a life that offers a few good moments between the many bad ones, but a life that transforms all our time into a window through which the invisible world becomes visible. Henri Nouwen [9-07-2020 reflection]
Most people in the world struggle to “stop and be silent”: prayer without words. We need to take moments of silence every day to reflect on our day and see the footsteps of God in our daily life – not just now and then – if we want inner peace.
Faith is not a commodity we can buy or measure in a physical way: our faith grows by the amount of sacrifice we’re willing to make for others.
Faith and inner peace grow in proportion to how much we are willing to give away: our time, patience, being centre of attention, smiles and food. In a world obsessed with collecting things, I wish you blessings as you try to give away.
By Gerard Conlan, OMI