When I have the opportunity to do a parish mission, I usually devote the opening night to talking about how God wants to empower us.
I am always amazed at how eager and enthusiastic people are when they hear this message. And when we begin praying, they see some amazing things happen in their lives. With just a little encouragement, they step out in faith and ask Jesus to move in their hearts—and he does!
So often we can reduce our faith to a list of things we have to do and things we can’t do. Now this is a significant dimension of our faith, but it’s not the whole story. Our faith also includes believing, even expecting, that Jesus wants to work in our lives. It includes asking him to show us his love, to help us in our challenges, and to give us a share in his joy. To me, this is a critical dimension of our faith, and it’s what I always emphasize when I speak to parishes.
There are four stories in the Gospels when Jesus tells someone, “Your faith has saved you.” They are the stories of Bartimaeus, a blind beggar; a sinful woman who anointed Jesus’ feet; a Samaritan who was healed of leprosy; and a woman who suffered from chronic bleeding. All these people were “saved” because they reached out to Jesus despite opposition. They were persistent. They were bold. They would not be denied.
Everyone told Bartimaeus to be quiet and stop disturbing Jesus. A Pharisee named Simon looked scornfully on the sinful woman who interrupted his dinner party. The one healed leper who returned to Jesus was a Samaritan whose disease had made him an outcast. And the woman with the flow of blood had to push through a huge crowd of people just to touch Jesus’ cloak.
Like these four people, we too can face what seem to be insurmountable odds. We too can hear people telling us that it’s hopeless and that we should just give up and resign ourselves to our suffering. But unlike these four, we can feel hopeless and defeated ourselves. We can end up convincing ourselves not to press on in seeking the Lord.
Let’s reject this kind of thinking! Let’s listen to Jesus as he tells us, “What is impossible for human beings is possible for God” (Luke 18:27). Let’s take on the attitude of these four heroes and heroines whom Jesus commended for their faith.
Pray with Us. I want to invite you to join us from now until the end of the Year of Faith in setting aside one day a week to pray in intercession for other people’s needs. Starting this month, until November 24, we at The Word Among Us offices are going to set aside every Thursday to pray specifically for intercession, and we’d like to invite you to pray with us. So go to www.facebook.com/wauintercede to sign up and let us know that you are with us. You can also list your own intercessions on that page so that we can all pray for each other.
May God bless you during these two months of summer. May he give us all the grace to believe that everything is possible through him.
Joe Difato, Publisher | Email the Publisher at [email protected]