Many of us know someone who, when the challenges of life befall them, never seem to give up. Rather than falling over, they stand firm, place their faith In God, and trust that in the end, “All shall be well.” Within my own family, I once asked my grandmother how she was able to navigate the sudden and tragic death of my grandfather. Left with little money and small children (my mother included), she confided that it was her faith in God that carried her through. For me, I remember sitting next to my wife in the hospital delivery room as she prepared to deliver our full-term, stillborn son. During those hours of labor, between prayers with the chaplain, handholding, and tears, I asked her what she was thinking. She told me that she was joining her suffering to the Cross of Christ. Regarding faith, both my grandmother and wife possess a “faith that can move mountains.”
The Catechism of the Catholic Church (#1814-1816) tells us that “Faith is the theological virtue by which we believe in God and believe all that he has said and revealed to us and that Holy Church proposes for our belief, because he is truth itself. Further, “…the disciple of Christ must not only keep the faith and live on it, but also profess it, confidently bear witness to it, and spread it.”
At baptisms, I like to reflect upon the story of St. Thomas the Apostle, sometimes known as the “Doubting Thomas” because he doubted Jesus’ resurrection. In the Gospel of John (Chapter 20), we hear how Mary of Magdala arrived at the Tomb of Jesus early in the morning to find that the stone covering the opening had been rolled away, thereby revealing an empty tomb. Quickly, she left and told the disciples what she had seen. Upon their arrival, they found the same and returned home. But Mary stayed behind. And it is then that the Risen Lord presented himself to her. After her encounter with Jesus, Mary informed the disciples: “I have seen the Lord.” In time, all the disciples are visited by Jesus—with the exception of Thomas. During this period of doubt, Thomas surely wondered whether the accounts of his friends were true.
A week later, it was Thomas’s turn. With Thomas and the disciples gathered in community, Jesus entered the room and invited Thomas to come closer and place his hands in the wounds inflicted upon him at Calvary. After doing so, Thomas blurts out one of the greatest statements of faith in all of Scripture: “My Lord and my God.” While spoken to Thomas, Jesus’ reply is also meant for you and me: “Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed.”
And so, this is the meaning of faith. Even though we do not see the Risen Lord the way those early followers of Jesus did (in flesh and blood), we are called to believe as though we have. In our world, through faith, we need only look around. If we look closely enough, in our families and communities, we can see the Risen Lord and the blessings he bestows upon us—daily! And when we receive the Eucharist, he comes to visit us in the most special of ways. He wants us to know that long after Mass has ended, he remains with us. He promises to accompany us through the good and bad times of our lives.
Our faith, therefore, serves to strengthen us on our earthly journey. With proper nourishment, it assists us as we confront and navigate the mountains of our lives.