Let me ask you a question. What are you most afraid of? I am sure several things quickly come to mind like spiders, wasps, or maybe rats. But you can remedy those things with insect spray or calling an exterminator. When one looks more deeply into that question other things come to mind. Are you afraid of dying, afraid of being dependent on others, afraid of failure, or afraid of being alone?
All of our deep seated fears have one thing in common. It is the fear of the unknown. The fear of not being in full control of all aspects of our lives. The fact is, we are not God, so we are not all knowing and all powerful. That can be scary because it implies we need to be dependent on something or someone. Jesus made it very clear in today’s Gospel who that someone is when he stated: “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.”
He is stating not to worry about anything for God loves you so much that He gives you the kingdom. He gives you everything that matters. Everything else fades away over time. This means that we should put all our faith, all of our trust in God, not in things of this world. This is reinforced in the second reading which states: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” It is difficult to have faith in someone we cannot see.
When we speak of faith, many people view it as a weakness. They put their trust in the power of reason. This fuels a crisis of faith in our society. Church attendance is down. This means being fed by the Word of God and the Eucharist is down. Many people state they are spiritual irrespective of going to church. That is like saying you are physically healthy but yet your diet consists of McDonald’s and ice cream instead of a balanced diet. It may taste good, you may feel great in the short term, but over time your health suffers. Just as our physical health requires the right food and exercise, our spiritual health needs to be fed and exercised properly. We can justify a healthy physical life style through scientific proof. We struggle with a healthy spiritual life style as it is less tangible to us.
Does faith have a place in a world only governed by the laws of science? The general mindset is that everything can be explained scientifically or at least if not now, someday as we grow in knowledge and understanding of our surroundings. This would imply that faith is not needed, only provable facts and sound reasoning are needed.
Yet there are some things even science may never be able to prove, such as the belief that outer space spans outward, unending in every direction. If it does end, then we would reason that something must be beyond it. Even this concept of it ending and something coming after it would go on for infinity. This reasoning is based on science and logic, not religion.
That sounds to me as though scientific reasoning accepts this understanding based on faith. So faith “does” have a place in this world even when not talking about religion. Faith is the only thing that can explain this paradox, this unexplainable physical reality of a never ending outer space.
Reasoning is used when provable facts are not available to explain something. Where reasoning falls short, is where faith begins. When there is something we cannot explain through reason we can become fearful. Life’s tragedies are an example. So what is our greatest challenge? The unexpected, unexplainable things we face in life or the fear that comes with it?
One of our biggest obstacles in life is fear. We cannot see the outcome of future choices or events. We have no control of the unknown. Life is like rowing in a rowboat. We have forward motion heading toward a destination, but we cannot see where we are going as our backs face forward, we only see what has already passed. But if we do not move forward we end up stagnating, living only in a set past.
One night a house caught fire and a little boy was forced to flee to the roof. The father stood on the ground below with outstretched arms, calling to his son, “Jump! I’ll catch you.” He knew the boy had to jump to save his life. All the boy could see, however, was flame, smoke, and darkness. As can be imagined, he was afraid to leave the roof. His father kept yelling: “Jump! I will catch you.” But the boy protested, “Daddy, I can’t see you.” The father replied, “But I can see you and that’s all that matters.” Hearing this, the boy jumped. He jumped, because he trusted his father.
Our Father in heaven only wants the best for us. The question is do we trust enough in His love for us that we are willing to jump into the darkness of the unknown. Faith enables us to face the uncertainties of life. If we trust in God’s love for us we will let Him take our hand and guide us through the darkness. The journey may be bumpy, we may experience both pain and joy, it may even seem darker before the light of dawn, but we will not be alone.
Life will have its ups and downs. We can choose to live it with God or without God, with faith in His love for us or not. We can face our fears with only the knowledge of science or we can face them with our all-knowing God, trusting in His love for us, and allowing Him to lead us through the darkness into His light. What would you put your faith in, only logic and reasoning or in God’s love for you? If you put your faith in God, then there is truly nothing to be afraid of.