Childlike faith

How does a child believe?

A child believes with wonder, believing in every possibility.

A child believes with abandon, with unwavering confidence, with trust.

A child believes with his heart, not just with reason.

A child believes not blindly, but with hope.

A child believes with humility, unstained by the arrogance brought upon by having knowledge (or, at least, what the world thinks is knowledge). 

This is the kind of belief that Jesus calls us to have:

“At that time Jesus said in reply, ‘I give praise to you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, for although you have hidden these things from the wise and the learned you have revealed them to the childlike.’” — Matthew 11:25

Do you have childlike faith in God? In your dreams?


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Remembering what God has done for us

Faithfulness is not just about believing to receive the blessings of God. It is, more importantly, about remembering what God has done for us, especially in times of trials.

What has God done for you?

There were many times when God answered our prayers. Maybe He gave healing to a loved one, kept us safe during a travel or plane ride, or helped us go through an ordeal.

But when the challenges come our way, or when our hearts become filled with doubts, we often forget what He has done for us.

This was also probably the case for the people in Chorazin, Bethsaida, and Capernaum, where Jesus performed His mighty deeds:

“Then [Jesus] began to reproach the towns where most of his mighty deeds had been done, since they had not repented.” — Matthew 11:20

They witnessed the mighty deeds of Jesus and received His healing, yet they failed to repent and believe in Him as the Messiah.

Throughout salvation history, the men who remained faithful to God like Moses were those who recounted what God had done for them, especially during times of trials and difficulties.

Near the end of days, Moses recounted to Israel what God had done for them:

“Moses summoned all Israel and said to them, You have seen with your own eyes all that the LORD did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh and all his servants and to all his land, the great testings your own eyes have seen, and those great signs and wonders.
“But the LORD has not given you a heart to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear until this day.
“I led you for forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes did not fall from you in tatters nor your sandals from your feet;
“It was not bread that you ate, nor wine or beer that you drank—so that you might know that I, the LORD, am your God.
“When you came to this place, Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, came out to engage us in battle, but we defeated them and took their land, and gave it as a heritage to the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh.
“Observe carefully the words of this covenant, therefore, in order that you may succeed in whatever you do.” — Deuteronomy 29:1-8

Faithfulness is not just about believing to receive the blessings of God. It is, more importantly, about remembering what God has done for us, especially in times of trials.


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Traditions, rituals, and love

Traditions and rituals are important for through them, the love of the invisible God becomes visible.

For instance, the Sacrament of Reconciliation makes it easier for us to understand how freely God gives His forgiveness. 

The Sacrament of Baptism helps us see how God calls us and welcomes us into His family.

The Eucharist, while being the true presence of Jesus, also reminds us in a visual way of how our Savior gave Himself for our salvation because of His love for us.

But sometimes, we focus too much on the actions and the motions that we lose the meaning of our Sacraments, traditions, and rituals.

Worse, we may participate in our traditions and rituals and sacraments, but fail to acknowledge our sins, to repent, and to love others.

This is what God reminded the kingdom of Israel through the prophet Isaiah in today’s first reading:

“What care I for the number of your sacrifices? says the LORD. I have had enough of whole-burnt rams and fat of fatlings; In the blood of calves, lambs and goats I find no pleasure.

“Though you pray the more, I will not listen. Your hands are full of blood! Wash yourselves clean! Put away your misdeeds from before my eyes; cease doing evil; learn to do good. Make justice your aim: redress the wronged, hear the orphan’s plea, defend the widow.” — Isaiah 1:11,16-17

Yes, our traditions, rituals, and sacraments are important. But the meaning behind them are even more so — that God loves us and, because of His love, we should also love and care for others.


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Ordinary witnesses

Amos was a shepherd, a dresser of sycamores. That’s when God called him to be a prophet to Israel and to preach God’s message of repentance.

"Amos answered, ‘I was no prophet, nor have I belonged to a company of prophets; I was a shepherd and a dresser of sycamores. The LORD took me from following the flock, and said to me, Go, prophesy to my people Israel.’” — Amos 7:14-15

The disciples of Jesus too were ordinary men. Many of them like Peter were fishermen. Even one was a tax collector, Matthew. One would even betray Him in Judas. Yet, ordinary men as they were, Jesus called them to follow Him. And in today’s Gospel reading, they were sent by Jesus to preach His message of repentance:

“[Jesus] summoned the Twelve and began to send them out two by two and gave them authority over unclean spirits. So they went off and preached repentance.” — Mark 6:7,12

Today, the world needs more witnesses. To share God’s message of hope to those who are feeling hopeless and desperate, of love to those who are hungry for it, of peace to those who are weary and restless in the midst of the troubles of life, and of reconciliation and repentance for those who have lost their way.

But, God is not just calling extraordinary witnesses like prophets and saints. He is calling ordinary men like you and me to witness to His extraordinary love for us.

No matter how ordinary we are, no matter how ordinary the things that we do, no matter how ordinary our days seem to be, we can always witness to His love.

Like what St. Paul wrote in today’s second reading, we are chosen by God in our ordinariness to accomplish His will:

“In him we were also chosen, destined in accord with the purpose of the One who accomplishes all things according to the intention of his will.” — Ephesians 1:11

The world needs more ordinary witnesses.

 

P.S. Maybe witnessing to His love doesn’t always have to be about doing something big, making difficult decisions, or reaching as many people as we can. Of course, they are truly important too. But, we can always start witnessing to His love through the care, the time, and the full, undivided attention that we give to the people closest to us.


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We are Catholics not because we’re perfect

Catholicism or Christianity is not about being perfect. It is about the struggle and the journey to be like Jesus who is perfect.

As Catholics or Christians, we have been called many things.

In today’s Gospel reading, Jesus tells us that even He was called Beelzebul. As His followers, we can only expect to be called names or some other things:

“It is enough for the disciple that he become like his teacher, for the slave that he become like his master. If they have called the master of the house Beelzebul, how much more those of his household!” — Matthew 10:25

As for us, who are followers of Jesus, we are often called “hypocrites.”

We cannot deny that some terrible deeds have been done by Catholics and Christians alike, even by our priests and ministers.

Even we fall into sin. In fact, I just went to the Sacrament of Reconciliation yesterday to confess and acknowledge my sins.

And yes, because of our sins, other people call us hypocrites.

Yet, we have to remember that we are Catholics or Christians not because we are perfect. We are Catholics or Christians because we are striving to be like Jesus.

Even if we fall over and over again with our sins, with our tempers, with the words that we say, with the thoughts that we have, with the actions that we take, we remain to be Catholics or Christians because we are still striving, struggling to be better, to become more like the One we are following.

We remain to be Catholic or Christians because we haven’t given up on following Jesus, no matter how many times we fail.

Catholicism or Christianity is not about being perfect. It is about the struggle and the journey to be like Jesus who is perfect.

 

P.S. Today's Gospel reading (Matthew 10:24-33) is also timely with everything that is happening today. Catholics and Christians are being mocked, persecuted, and even killed. Yet, Jesus tells us not to be afraid of those who kill the body and to continue proclaiming His Name:

"And do not be afraid of those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul; rather, be afraid of the one who can destroy both soul and body in Gehenna." — Matthew 10:28
"Everyone who acknowledges me before others I will acknowledge before my heavenly Father. But whoever denies me before others, I will deny before my heavenly Father." — Matthew 10:32-33

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