Sunday, April 10, 2016

TRUSTING FAITH


Homily for April 11th, 2016: John 6:22-29.
AThis is the work of God,@ Jesus says in the gospel reading we have just heard, Athat you believe in the one he sent.@ Or as another translation has it: Ahave faith in the one he sent.@ What is faith? For many of us, I think, faith means belief in the truths contained in the creed which we recite every Sunday at Mass. Faith in that sense is more properly called Abelief@: mental assent. Important as that is, faith has another meaning: personal trust C an affair not just of the head, but of the heart.  Even the creed begins not AI believe that@ but AI believe in.@ To believe in someone is to trust that person. Here’s a story about such trusting faith.
Some Alpine guides in a Swiss village organized a climb late in the season, after all the tourists had departed. They reached their chosen summit without difficulty. They were disappointed, however, not to have found an edelweiss, the delicate star-shaped white flower that grows only at high altitudes and is prized by mountaineers as a souvenir of their exploits.
The group had already started their descent when one of them spotted a single edelweiss on a narrow ledge some thirty feet below. To get it someone would have to be let down on a rope. There was no time to linger, for the weather, which changes rapidly in the mountains, was deteriorating. The climbers turned at once to the youngest and smallest member of the party, twelve-year-old Hans, making his first major climb with his father. It would be easy to let him down. In five minutes they could be on their way again. 
AWhat about it, Hans,@ they asked. AWill you do it?@
Hans peered anxiously at the narrow ledged with the treasured white flower C and at the sheer drop of hundreds of feet immediately beyond.
AI=ll do it,@ Hans replied, Aif my father holds the rope.@
That=s faith B unconditional trust! That is what Jesus is talking about when he says in today=s gospel: AThis is the work of God: that you believe in the One he sent.@
We pray in this Mass that, through the outpouring of God’s Holy Spirit, we too may receive the trusting faith of that twelve-year-old boy.