SCRIPTURE READINGS: [ GN 19:15-29; MT 8:23-27]
In the first reading, we read of the power of faith in our prayers being answered. Abraham, a man so intimate with God, placed his entire faith in the mercy of the Lord. In spite of the inevitable destruction that was to come on the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham interceded for the people living in the cities. Alas, there were not even ten good people in the city. Nevertheless, God answered the prayer of Abraham by delivering his nephew, Lot, and his wife from the disasters awaiting them. God sent His angels to warn them of the impending catastrophe.
If God were so merciful to Abraham, it was because he was a man not only of faith but a man who interceded selflessly for others. In spite of the quarrels he and his workmen had with Lot and his workers, Abraham only thought of their safety and well being. He did not hold any grudges against them. Because he held no anger or resentment against them, the Lord acceded to the request of Abraham to at least save his relatives. Faith in the Lord, confidence in Him and living a life of contentment and forgiveness are keys to effective prayer, especially intercessory prayer. Indeed,Psalm 24:3f says, “Who shall go up to the mountain of the Lord? Who shall stand in his holy place? The clean of hands and pure of heart, whose heart is not set on vanities.”
But how many of us share the same intimacy of Abraham with God? How many of us have his depth of faith in Him? The truth is that we do not have such deep faith and confidence in God as Abraham did. That is why he is called the Father of Faith in the bible. We are only children in faith, or rather, infantile in our faith. Should we be surprised? Even Jesus’ intimate disciples did not have such faith initially, in spite of having been with Jesus all that while. No wonder Jesus called them, “Men of little faith!” Should we then despair because we cannot surrender and trust God the way Abraham did?
We should not be too hard on ourselves if we are unable to give that utter faith to God, a faith that can move mountains. God is also pleased with our little faith. He is not so unreasonable that He would not wait for us to grow up and increase in our faith. He perfectly understands our struggles in trusting Him. After all, even in human relationships, it takes time to win the trust of someone whom we love, or to trust someone who likes us. The failure of many relationships is due to the impatience of building a relationship gradually, moving from strength to strength. Many beautiful relationships start well, but couples are impatient in love. Before they can strengthen their emotional bonds with each other, sharing their hearts and minds, they have already surrendered their bodies to each other, often resulting in insecurity, suspicion, mistrust and misunderstanding because they do not yet know each other enough to trust the partner completely. Relationships, which require trust, take time, years in fact, to build and to be strengthened. But of course, no relationship can grow unless we take the first step to trust in the person we love. And through time, we grow in mutual understanding; sensitivity to each other’s likes and dislikes, strengths and weaknesses. In this way, faith and trust in each other become stronger.
And truly, God will wait for us too. He showed His patience for us when He sent His angels to lead Lot and his family out of the town where they lived. This was in spite of Lot’s hesitation. The angels even “took him by the hand, and his wife and his two daughters, because of the pity the Lord felt for him. They led him out and left him outside the town.” Most probably, the thought of leaving all his property and wealth behind made it difficult for him to abandon his home. This is true in many disasters today. In most cases, warnings of an imminent earthquake or volcano eruption, typhoon, hurricane or Tsunami were given. But the inhabitants did not want to leave for fear of losing their livelihood and all the things they had accumulated over the years. Because of their attachment and vacillation, they were killed when the natural disaster struck. Such is the mercy of God.
Even after being led out, Lot again doubted the power of God to save him. Once again, he appealed to the Lord’s indulgence. Lot said, “The town over there is near enough to flee to, and is a little one. Let me make for that – is it not little? – and my life will be saved.” Amazingly, this merciful God granted him his request. So we have an instance of Lot who lacked faith and confidence in the Lord, yet the Lord still answered his request.
Indeed, many of us, instead of surrendering our life to God, are like Lot, not running for our lives but always looking back and hesitating to do the Lord’s will. We keep on doubting His love for us. We question His wisdom. We want to do our own will. When trials and opposition set in, we give up so easily without a fight. We cannot even tolerate a little suffering, occasional setback and failure; the human frailties of our fellowmen or even of ourselves. What is worse, we become resentful of God! We give up faith in Him.
This, too, was the case of the disciples of Jesus in the gospel. They were facing a violent storm and the boat was about to sink. Apparently, they thought that Jesus was indifferent to their fears and anxieties. They forgot that Jesus had earlier on cured so many who were sick and delivered those possessed by the devil. Yet, after having seen Jesus’ power over illnesses, suffering and death, they still did not trust Jesus sufficiently that He would protect them from all dangers. When they in panic turned to Jesus and woke Him up saying “Save us, Lord, we are going down!”, the reply of Jesus was one of assurance and yet a challenge to them: “Why are you so frightened, you men of little faith?’ And with that he rebuked the winds and the seas; and all was calm again.”
The lesson we can learn from the disciples in the storm is that the Lord is always watching over us, even when He appears to be indifferent to our plight. Such occasions are meant to help us to deepen our faith in Him, as in the case of the disciples. Otherwise, greater disasters will await us. Although God wants to save us all, if we do not at least give Him some confidence, He cannot help us because He does not force His love on us. All He asks of us is a little faith and from that small seed of faith, He will bring it to fruition and maturity. Only faith in Jesus as our Lord and Saviour can help us to tide over the storms of life without becoming overwhelmed. We need not be under the bondage of the Devil, whether it is our addiction to drugs, alcohol, sex, greed or anger, if we allow Jesus to calm the storms of life for us.
Unfortunately, Lot’s wife did not surrender even that little faith the Lord asked of her. She was disobedient over a simple instruction not to look back. “But Lot’s wife looked back, and was turned into a pillar of salt.” Whoever looks back will be like her as well. When we do not let go of those things in life that cause us misery, such as gambling, womanizing, drinking and cheating, we will eventually turn into a pillar of salt, because we would be full of anger, resentment, hatred and disillusionment with ourselves and everyone else.
So let us give that little faith to Jesus. That is all He is asking of us. Let the Lord lead us by His hand as He did with Lot. When we are afraid, then Jesus says, “Remember, It is I.” We must wake up to the presence of Jesus in our lives. When we give Him that seed of faith, He will produce wonders and miracles in our lives. After which, our faith will grow from strength to strength. So it is all right that we do not have faith in Jesus completely. But we must seek to trust Him more and more. When Jesus told the father of the boy suffering from epileptic demoniac, “Everything is possible for one who has faith.” We read, “At once the father of the boy cried out, ‘I have faith. Help my lack of faith!’” (Mk 9:24f). And Jesus did by casting out the evil spirit from his son. We can be certain that after witnessing what Jesus did, his faith certainly would have grown stronger and deeper. So let us learn from him. In truth and sincerity, we must tell Jesus the same thing, “I have faith. Help my lack of faith.”
Written by The Most Rev William Goh, Roman Catholic Archbishop of Singapore © All Rights Reserved
Best Practices for Using the Daily Scripture Reflections
- Encounter God through the spirit of prayer and the scripture by reflecting and praying the Word of God daily. The purpose is to bring you to prayer and to a deeper union with the Lord on the level of the heart.
- Daily reflections when archived will lead many to accumulate all the reflections of the week and pray in one sitting. This will compromise your capacity to enter deeply into the Word of God, as the tendency is to read for knowledge rather than a prayerful reading of the Word for the purpose of developing a personal and affective relationship with the Lord.
- It is more important to pray deeply, not read widely. The current reflections of the day would be more than sufficient for anyone who wants to pray deeply and be led into an intimacy with the Lord.
Note: You may share this reflection with someone.