A woman attending a retreat for those struggling to heal after an abortion was asked: “What do you want from this retreat?” She responded, “I want- for just a moment- to believe that God loves me.” This hurting person was living proof of the philosopher Kierkegaard’s claim that life is not a question of belief versus unbelief; it’s a question of belief versus despair.
Today’s gospel spoke of a Roman centurion who did indeed believe. We heard that he was generous, concerned for others, respected by his community, and an accomplished professional. Jesus knew all these things about him. But when Jesus publicly praised him, what did he single out? Only his faith which, we’re told, left Jesus “amazed.” We might say, then, that the centurion had “amazing faith.”
I imagine that everyone reading this blog has faith! Nevertheless, Jesus calls each one of us to have “amazing” faith. He wants us to have a deep and unshakable belief in him. Jesus wants us to believe that he answers prayer; to believe in his power to heal; to believe in his forgiveness; to believe that he keeps his promises; to believe that he has a purpose for our life; and most of all, to believe in his love for us.
Faith, of course, is a gift of God’s grace, which means that we can ask God to give it to us. So maybe our prayer this and every day should be for “amazing grace” that we might have “amazing faith.”
Readings for today’s Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091211.cfm