What is faith? By Bishop J. Terry Steib, S.V.D.

For an answer, let us go to Chapter 11 in the Letter to the Hebrews. Drawing on the faith of the ancient ones in the Old Testament, the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says simply, yet powerfully: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see” (v. 1). Faith is trust and courage! The men and women of the Old Testament did not have all the beliefs we hold near and dear, yet they trusted in God. And because they trusted in God, they were approved by God. And because of that trust in God, they had the courage to go forth and to do what God asked them to do – even though there were things they neither saw nor understood.

The author of the Letter to the Hebrews then cites examples of faith from the men and women of the Old Testament. Notice how many times the phrase “by faith” is mentioned: sixteen times! “By faith Abel offered God a sacrifice greater than Cain’s… by faith Enoch was taken away without dying, and ‘he was seen no more because God took him’… by faith Noah revered God and built an ark that his household might be saved… by faith Abraham obeyed when he was called and he went forth, moreover, not knowing where he was going… by faith Sarah received power to conceive though she was past the age, for she thought that the One who had made the promise was worthy of trust… by faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac… by faith Isaac invoked for Jacob and Esau blessings that were still to be… by faith Jacob, when dying, blessed each of the sons of Joseph, and worshipped God… by faith Joseph spoke of the Exodus of the Israelites… by faith Moses’ parents hid him for three months after his birth… by faith Moses, when he had grown up, refused to be known as the son of Pharaoh’s daughter and by faith he left Egypt… by faith the Israelites crossed the Red Sea as if it were dry land… by faith Rahab escaped from being destroyed… by faith… by faith…”

And the author of the Letter to the Hebrews goes on to say that all of these men and women died in faith! He says: “They did not obtain what had been promised, but saw and saluted it from afar” (v. 13). They trusted in God and that trust gave them the courage to risk and to go forth! Faith was their foundation!

And faith is our foundation! When we have faith in God, we have something to stand on, something to rely on, regardless of what our situation or circumstance is, regardless of what people say or think of us. Faith is solid, not shaky, not wavy. Faith is the living proof that whatever the situation we are in, God will handle it. No matter what we are going through, God is still in control. Faith closes its eyes to all that it sees and opens its ears to all that God has to say. Or, as the author of the Letter to the Hebrews says: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”

May we enter this Year of Faith by a deepening of our faith in God by reflecting on those moments when our faith is truly active in our life. May we celebrate this Year of Faith by recognizing those moments and times of trusting in God and by expressing our gratitude and thanks to God. May we use this Year of Faith as an opportunity to “walk by faith and not be sight (2 Cor 5:7).”


About thereserita

Happy Catholic seeking to share that happiness with others.
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