Jesus Christ is the leader and perfecter of our faith (Heb 12, 2). It is right, then, that we ask him to increase always our faith.
Faith is a divine gift (Rom 12, 3; Phil 1, 29; 2 Pt 1, 1). That is, God, Jesus or the Holy Spirit gives it to us. We ask it, then, from the one who can give it to us. He is the only one, too, who can increase our faith.
But Jesus makes clear that one should not understand increase in faith quantitatively. What matters is the quality of faith. In other words, it is not about grasping every teaching broadly, deeply and in smallest details. For our Teacher does not call blessed the scribes and the Pharisees. Rather, he addresses woes against them, and proclaims happy the poor and simple folks.
God reveals, yes, to poor, lowly, simple people what he hides from the wise and the learned. Surely, the former understand instinctively the weightier things, —justice, mercy, faithfulness—, that the latter lose sight of. That is because the poor, the lowly, the simple show willingness to receive the gift of faith. To keep also in their hearts a living faith that works through love.
And St. Vincent de Paul’s experience bears out such truth (SV.EN XI:190; SV.EN XII:142). He says that one finds “true religion and a living faith” among the poor. They bear patiently and peacefully their miseries, their trials and tribulations, and they believe, touch, taste the words of life.
And it is not that St. Vincent has a romantic view of the poor. In fact, he recognizes that they appear “so crude and vulgar” (SV.EN XI:26). He is aware, moreover, that they do not know even the principal articles of faith (SV.EN I:141). Still, he does state that “God gives them in abundance the graces he refuses the rich and wise of this world.”
Lord Jesus, instill in us authentic faith in you who love us, and increase it always. Though little, it is enough for us to overcome overwhelmingly in the midst of anguish, persecution, famine, nakedness, peril. Make us live by faith, so that we may bear our share of hardship for the Gospel. And remind us always that the bread and the wine that become our living bread and spiritual drink are the work of so many poor people of faith.
6 October 2019
27th Sunday in O.T. (C)
Hab 1, 2-3; 2, 2-4; 2 Tim 1, 6-8. 13-14; Lk 17, 5-10