It is difficult to picture the Lord Jesus complaining. However, as I read the gospels, I keep coming across a rather consistent complaint of his. Hint: it has to do with faith, or more specifically, the lack of faith. I did a rough count and found about ten passages in which Jesus scolded the disciples for having “little faith,” “no faith,” or “their unbelief.” One time he asked them pointedly, “Where is your faith?” In his own home town, Jesus was amazed (and not in a good way!) at their lack of faith and “did not do many mighty works there because of their unbelief” (Matt. 13:58). Even after he rose from the dead, Jesus appeared to the eleven apostles and rebuked them for their “unbelief and hardness of heart” (Mark 16:14). Jesus spoke of many things, but it certainly seems that the topic of faith was of tremendous importance.
JESUS PRAISED FAITH
Jesus not only complained about lack of faith but praised faith when he found it, for example, in the woman whose daughter had a demon and who refused to take “no” for an answer (“even the dogs eat the scraps of food that fall from the table”). Jesus told her, “Woman, great is your faith! Be it done for you as you desire” (Matt. 15:28). Another example is the Roman centurion who begged healing for his servant. When Jesus offered to come and heal him, the centurion said those words that we have repeated at Mass ever since, “Lord, I am not worthy that you should enter under my roof, but only say the word and my servant (my soul) shall be healed” (Matt. 8:8). Jesus told him that not even in Israel had he found such faith.
Jesus taught that faith the size of a mustard seed can move mountains (and sycamine/mulberry trees!) and that praying with faith was essential (cf. Mark 11:22-24). On several occasions, Jesus said, “Your faith has cured you (or saved you).” There is no question that faith is basic and of ultimate importance in our relationship with God.
A WORD DURING PRAYER
One day I was spending some time in Eucharistic Adoration. Toward the end of my time of prayer, it was as if I could sense the Lord’s heart breaking over the state of the Church, and the loss of faith among some of the laity, but especially in some of the hierarchy and clergy. These are the words that came to me, which I share for your discernment:
You have lost faith in me. You have lost faith in my Word. You no longer believe the truth of my revealed Word. You have lost faith in your first love – in your Creator, your Teacher, your Savior, the Founder and Perfecter of your faith.
Great is your sin, then, for you have broken faith with me.
Great is your sin, then, for you have not only lost faith yourselves, but you lead my faithful people to lose faith as well.
Great is your sin, then, for not only do you not enter the door of my kingdom of truth but you block the way of those who would enter.
What do I ask of you but faith in me. What do I ask of you but faith in my Word. What do I ask of you but obedience to my Word. How can you say that you love me if you believe not what I have said? How can you say that you follow me if you obey not what I have clearly commanded?
Repent and believe. Repent and return to faith. Repent and obey. Before it is too late.
Admittedly, these are chilling words and somewhat scary, but then, loss of faith is a serious issue! I was reminded of a similarly chilling and scary passage in Luke 18:8 when Jesus said: “When the Son of man comes, will he find faith on earth?” As time goes by and we continue to experience turmoil all around us in the world and in the Church, it becomes ever clearer that the basic issue comes down to faith. Do we really accept the person of Jesus as who he claims to be: Savior, Messiah, Lord, King of kings and Head of the Church? Do we really believe in Jesus, his commands and his promises? Do we submit to him and give him the “obedience of faith” (cf. Rom. 1:5; 16:26)?
Let us pray that when the Son of man comes he will find some faith on earth! May he find it in us! Even if we feel weak in faith, may our prayer be that of the distressed father who cried out, “Lord I believe, help my unbelief” (Mark 9:24) and of the apostles who said, “Lord, increase our faith!” (Luke 17:5).