Quiet Storm by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II, 19 October 2020
It is really funny these days at how things we grew up with have changed so differently like the postscript we used with initials “P.S.” at the end of letters as an afterthought we sent relatives and friends about 40 years ago.
Today, a postscript is more of a trademark and an application in computers but for my generation, it is from the Latin “post scriptum” that means “written after”.
Consider this piece, my dear Reader, as a postscript or PS to St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians we heard proclaimed during weekdays from October 5-14, 2020 where he explained and reflected about faith in Jesus Christ whom he loved so much.
Faith is having a relationship with God, not to obtain things from him.
We always hear people say “have faith” in everything we pray for. Always believe that God will hear us, God will grant us what we need and ask for.
But what happens when we do not get what we are praying for like when a loved one is not healed or recovers from a sickness and eventually dies? Or, flunk an important exam or maybe fail to close a major deal in business? Does it mean we lack faith? Or, is that the main purpose of having faith in God, to obtain things and favors from him?
See how St. Paul called the Galatians “stupid” for being misled by false teachings on the gospel of Jesus Christ: some preachers had come to Galatia at that time telling them of the need to be circumcised like the Jews who converted to Christianity in order to be saved. He wrote the Galatians primarily to rectify those errors they have seemed to believed, where he introduced the doctrine of “justification (salvation) by faith in Christ”, not by rituals and other practices men do. It is not to dismiss our traditions but to stress the primary role of faith in Jesus Christ who died for our sins to save us.
O stupid Galatians! Who has bewitched you, before whose eyes Jesus Christ was publicly portrayed as crucified. I want to learn only this from you: did you receive the Spirit from works of the law, or from faith in what you heard? Are you stupid? After beginning with the Spirit, are now ending with the flesh?Galatians 3:1-3
Sometimes like the Galatians, we end up with the flesh, believing more in things we do like rituals and other things than truly believing Jesus because we use faith to obtain things from God.
No! We believe because we relate: every relationship like marriage always presupposes faith in the other person. Even Jesus in teaching us how to pray, he taught us the “Our Father” which is an expression of a relationship.
Being faithful means being realistic.
Jesus himself assured us that faith can move mountains and do other great things for us if we truly believe. This is perhaps the reason we always equate faith in asking for so many things from God.
Not at all. We also have to be realistic with things we ask from God. He is not a magician who has to please and entertain us with his miracles and powers. When we were in high school seminary, the late Fr. Nick Cruz, SJ gave us a recollection and told us we cannot simply ask anything from God like a rose blooming from your toothpaste to prove he calls you to the priesthood!
Being realistic in our faith by praying first of all to have Jesus, only Jesus and always Jesus!
When Jesus told us to seek and you shall find, to ask and it shall be given to you, and to know and the door shall be opened to you (Lk.11:9-10), he was not telling us to ask for money and gadgets. If we are going to be realistic in our faith, Jesus is telling us to seek God and you shall find him, to ask God and you shall have him, and most of all, God is the only door when we knock would surely open us to new beginnings.
In explaining the unique call we have received from God in Christ, St. Paul gives us the whole reality of our being Christians, of having a faith that is realistic.
For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free person, there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendant, heirs according to the promise.Galatians 3:27-29
Faith demands conviction and consistency.
God’s gift of faith in us is not everything; we have to cultivate and deepen our faith to experience its wondrous fruits and grace. See the kind of conviction of St. Paul in proclaiming and explaining his faith in Jesus Christ.
Now I want you to know, brothers and sisters, that the Gospel preached by me is not of human origin. For I did not receive it from a human being, nor was I taught it, but it came through a revelation of Jesus Christ.Galatians 1:11-12
Like the Galatians, many of us are easily swayed by so many other beliefs and teachings that are misleading, claiming to be a part of the faith we have received. Without firmness and conviction in our faith, some among us have gone to accommodating modern thoughts and lifestyles that run contrary to our faith in Christ like abortion, same sex marriage, and in-vitro fertilizations or test tube babies.
A believer without conviction and consistency in faith and actions is not faithful at all. What happens with our “faith is a relationship” when the chips are down, when we are confronted of either being for God or against God?
Sometimes we try “moving the lines”, convincing ourselves that we are not crossing the line of morals and morality like when we are bent on accommodating others and ourselves in some occasions to justify personal preferences.
Sad to say, it happens even among us clergymen like when we tinker with the liturgy and the sacraments in the name of modernism and of arts and worst, with some issues pertaining to acts intrinsically sinful and immoral.
Maybe if we would have the conviction and consistency of faith, we would all be like the good Samaritan in the Lord’s parable – a neighbor to everyone especially those in need, willing to cross the street to faithfully reach out to others in Jesus Christ (Lk. 10:25-37).
Try examining our faith today. Has it bloomed into a relationship we keep with God our Father in Christ Jesus through the Holy Spirit or has it remained as it is, a given, a safety net just in case we need?
Have faith, have God and we’ll journey far, together! Amen.
On Wednesday, we reflect on being faithful and free, and how faith works through love. Have blessed Monday and see you again!
You may also check our prayers from October 05-14, 2020 based on St. Paul’s Letter to the Galatians at the archives of http://lordmychef.com.