In announcing the Year of Faith, Pope Benedict XVI wrote, “The door of faith is always open for us. . . . It is possible to cross that threshold when the word of God is proclaimed and the heart allows itself to be shaped by transforming grace” (The Door of Faith, 1).
Think about how encouraging those words are! We open doors all the time. Some doors, like the door to our home or the door to our favorite shop, are easy to open. But there are other doors that are more challenging. For instance, it takes time, patience, and effort to pass through the doorway to a new job or to a new vocation like marriage, the priesthood, or religious life. What’s more, you can’t always predict what’s waiting for you on the other side of some of these doors.
In a sense, opening the door of faith can be both very simple and very unpredictable. It’s as simple as saying “yes” to the Lord, but at the same time, we can be quite surprised by the path that this yes sets us on. Just ask the many missionaries, apostles, martyrs, and other saints in our history!
But no matter what surprises await us as we pass through the door of faith, we can rely on one thing: Jesus is there, ready to greet us. And even more wonderful, he walks with us every step we take along the path of faith.
Your Faith Has Saved You.
Jesus greeted four special people who walked through that door, saying, “Your faith has saved you.” These people are a blind man named Bartimaeus (Mark 10:52), a woman with a serious medical condition (Mark 5:34), a Samaritan who was healed of leprosy (Luke 17:19), and a woman with a sinful past (Luke 7:50). Maybe their stories will help us as we walk through our own doors of faith every day!
One of the first things that we can see in each of these stories is the way Jesus singled these people out and honored their faith and trust—often in contrast to the others around him who didn’t seem to show the same kind of faith. It seems that the kind of faith that draws Jesus’ attention is the faith that causes people to reach out to him. It moves people to go out of their way and maybe even cause a scene.
People with this kind of faith may be looking for a specific healing at first, but something else happens to them along the way. Their hearts are healed, not just their bodies. Their memories are healed, not just their sense of guilt over past sins. So as you look at each of these stories, ask yourself: “Does my faith move me to reach out to Jesus? What do I find when I do reach out in the way these people did?”
Bartimaeus (Mark 10:46-52).
Blindness today is not nearly as catastrophic as it was in the days of Jesus. People who were blind back then found it next to impossible to work or earn a living. Unless they had family to take care of them, they were reduced to begging for any help they could get. This is exactly where we find Bartimaeus: sitting by the side of the road begging when Jesus and his followers walked by.
When Bartimaeus learned that all the commotion was caused by Jesus and the crowd that was following him, he began to cry out, “Jesus, son of David, have pity on me.” Seeing that it was only a beggar, many in the crowd tried to shut Bartimaeus up. But that only made him more determined. And it worked! Jesus stopped, called Bartimaeus to himself, and asked what he wanted. “Master, I want to see,” he said. That’s when Jesus spoke the key words: “Go your way; your faith has saved you.”
The contrast between Bartimaeus and the crowd is striking. Bartimaeus would not be denied. He believed. He cried out. He persisted. He told Jesus exactly what he needed. As a result, he was rewarded. His faith brought him the salvation and healing he needed.
The Hemorrhaging Woman (Mark 5:25-34).
For twelve years she suffered from a bleeding condition, and no one could help her. But when she heard that Jesus was passing through her town, she sought him out. “If I can but touch his clothes,” she thought, “I will be cured.” So she pushed through the crowd and touched his cloak—and was instantly healed!
Knowing that power had gone out of him, Jesus turned around and asked, “Who touched me?” The woman came forward and told Jesus what had happened, and Jesus told her, “Daughter, your faith has healed you.”
Think about the difference between this woman and the other people who must have been jostling Jesus as they walked along. Physically, they were as close to him as the woman. But physical proximity is not the same as being close to the Lord in faith. It’s through faith that we can connect with the grace that is always flowing from Jesus—grace that brings strength, healing, and virtue. Like Bartimaeus, this woman would tell us to reach out to Jesus, believing that he has the power we need.
A “Sinful” Woman (Luke 7:36- 50).
Simon, a Pharisee, had invited Jesus to dinner with some of his friends. Everything seemed to be going fine until a woman of ill repute joined the dinner party uninvited. She stood behind Jesus, her tears falling on his feet. She then bent down, wiped his feet with her hair, and anointed them with a jar of costly perfume.
These gestures moved both Jesus and Simon deeply. For his part, Simon held Jesus in disdain, wondering how a prophet would allow such a woman to touch him. But Jesus, seeing the love and gratitude behind the woman’s actions, told her, “Your faith has saved you.”
The contrast between the sinful woman and Simon is striking. Simon wanted to talk with Jesus. Perhaps he wanted to get to know him and understand his teachings better. But by the end of the evening, his doubts remained—or intensified.
But the woman did not come for a conversation. She entered a house where she knew she was not welcome because she was so touched by Jesus’ mercy she just had to be with him. If she were here today, she would tell us, “Go to Jesus, and confess your sins. He is rich in mercy. I’m proof. There is no unpardonable sin.”
A Samaritan with Leprosy (Luke 17:11-19).
This is a somewhat different story from the others. In this story, ten lepers were healed, and all ten followed Jesus’ command to show themselves to a priest as called for by the Law of Moses. They were all welcomed back into society, and most of them probably returned to their families and resumed their old lives. But one of the ten came back to praise and thank Jesus for his healing—and he was a Samaritan!
It seems that this fellow, this outsider, was the only one to whom Jesus said, “Your faith has saved you.” Evidently, he experienced something more than a physical healing.
This story tells us that being “healed” doesn’t always mean being “made whole.” This man experienced both, and that’s why he came back to Jesus. If he were with us today, he would tell us, “Physical healing is good, but spiritual healing is better!”
All four of these people walked through the door of faith, and all four of them were rewarded. In the same way, Jesus wants to encourage us to walk through the door and believe. No matter how much or how little faith we have, he is inviting us to be as bold as these four were as we take the next step forward. Perhaps that is why Jesus also told us to come to him as children. Children can be quite bold—and persistent—with their parents. They have no problem asking and asking and asking. They exhaust every possible option to get what they want. When their parents say “no,” they see it as nothing more than a temporary setback. And they keep on asking.
So be like a child. Be persistent. Be bold. Don’t be afraid to ask Jesus for everything.
Be like Bartimaeus, and call out to Jesus.
Be like the hemorrhaging woman, and reach out to Jesus.
Be like the “sinful” woman, and tell Jesus how much you love him and how grateful you are for his mercy and love.
Be like the Samaritan leper, and fall at his feet in worship and adoration.
If you do, you’ll hear Jesus saying these beautiful words to you: “Your faith has saved you!”