Year C 2022
Let us begin with Harry Potter in the magic novel and the film based on it, Harry Potter and the Prisoner of Azkaban. One night in the misty moonlight of Hogwarts Castle, the evil dementors are closing in on Harry. The shadowy, hooded figures are trying to capture his soul. Harry has only one chance — use the "Patronum" magic spell. So, he summons every ounce of belief because the "Patronum" spell demands absolute faith in its power. Pointing his magic wand at the dementors, Harry shouts, "Expecto patronum. "The spell works. A silvery stag gallops forth, and the dementors fall back. Harry Potter is safe because he believes in his magic word's power.
Likewise, today's readings ask us to have such 'faith' in the power of God. But what does it mean to have faith in God? What is faith? The written word of God tells us that faith is our response to God's desire to have a relationship with us. Yet, we cannot acquire faith with our own power and effort unless God gives it. In other words, faith is a gift from God. What do you do with this gift? We receive and accept this gift like other gifts such as birthdays or Christmas. Would you not accept gifts from someone?
Similarly, faith is our response to accepting God's generosity without pressure. In other words, accepting faith is 'a free act' to take God's love. Saint Mother Teresa once said, "the fruit of love is faith."
Is it challenging to have faith or to accept faith? Yes! It can inevitably be challenging to have faith when all I hear around me say nothing is going on here because we live in an age of unbelief and rebellion against God and religion. We can also have moments of life where the light of faith gets obscured and darkened in our souls, especially in times of suffering. FYI! Most of the greatest saints have experienced spiritual dryness as well. Yet, that dryness and darkness are where they truly deepen their faith in God. Despite doubts and challenges in our faith journey, Jesus wants us to look upon his face in faith. Jesus wants to journey with us in the midst of whatever challenges and darkness might be going on in our lives.
Before the rite of baptism ends, the priest usually passes the lit candle from the paschal candle to the godparents, saying, "Receive the light of Christ." I believe these words are meaningful not just on the day of our baptism but can be significant for the rest of our Christian life journey. We are always in need of Christ's light to keep our faith shining.
Faith is a process and a journey, as the Gospel today describes where our "faith is the size of the mustard seed." It needs to be watered and nourished by God, with the support of the people around you and the parish community, so that it will grow abundantly in perfect time.