JUNE 5, 2005, 10TH SUNDAY: HOMILY- Hosea 6:3-6;Rom 4:8-25; Mt 9:9-13

IT IS NOT THE HEALTHY WHO NEED THE DOCTOR BUT THE SICK. Various were the roles and identities attributed to the Lord during his life time. Prophet, Son of God, Messiah, Master and Teacher. With some of these, such as Master and Son, he identified himself. He also referred to himself under various titles in certain parables, Good Shepherd for instance. Here he identifies as a physician of the soul. If you translate that into Greek (psyches iatros) it comes out as psychiatrist! Our Lord thought of himself as a healer; he proved to be both very effective and a most compassionate one. While he cured many physical diseases as well, such as leprosy, yet his primary concern was with the healing of the soul; more specifically, he focused on the cure of sin, as he goes on to state in today’s text: "I came to call not the upright but sinners."As teacher too he concentrated on the cure of the heart, the dispositions of the inner person.

In this capacity he consistently insisted on the fundamental importance of faith in his person as possessing a power and doctrine that he received from the Father who sent him. "Have faith in God, have faith in me" he urged his followers. With faith, he taught, all things are possible; in treating with persons lacking faith, he was baffled, unable to function effectively. This is a remarkable fact: the Son of God cannot act in our interest without our cooperation in the form of faith. God has willed it so: we cannot be healed unless we trust our self to Him in a radical act of trusting belief.

St Paul gave a great deal of thought to this matter. He meditated and reflected at length on the nature and implications of faith. He realized its critical role in the work of salvation and in the whole of the spiritual life. as we heard in the second reading today. Abraham, he tells us, "is our father in the eyes of God, in whom he put his faith." A few sentences earlier, Paul had written even more forcefully that Abraham "put his faith in God and this was reckoned to him as uprightness.(Romans 4:2) " The act of faith is of such a nature that it renders us acceptable to God; of its very nature, apart from any acts, faith freely given, alters the state of our person, conferring a new relation to God that allows his power to work in us.

There are degrees of faith, to be sure, as we soon discover in the course of living out our call as followers of Christ. Faith can grow according as we make decisions based on the light of faith and act in conformity with the commitment to the Lord that it entails. Should we fail to act from faith in time of temptation and stress the strength of faith diminishes. While we believe in certain truths revealed by God, faith always includes more than access to divine truth; in every act of faith there is a personal element. By faith we always deal with God himself becoming more intimate with him. All prayer includes faith in the Lord to whom we direct out desire; every act of fidelity to the content of faith, to conscience enlightened by faith unites us more closely with or with the One who guarantees the truth of faith.

The human person is so constituted that only in some form of faith or other can he function, develop, unfold his capacities and enter into relationships with others. Erik Erikson, basing himself on careful observation of infants concluded that the most prominent acquisition of the first stage of human development is Basic Trust, a form of implicit faith in the reliability of nature, self and others. Defects in basic trust impair subsequent growth and leads to problematic relations and functioning. All forms of personal love depend on a basic trust, a faith in the reliability and loyalty of the beloved. Faith is an indispensable condition for human intimacy and for the appropriate development of one’s powers. It is the province of wisdom to guide us in placing the proper measure of faith in the various persons with whom we enter into relation. God alone merits absolute faith that trusts oneself unconditionally and totally. Faith is an act of choice that creates new possibilities in life, makes clear what was hidden and binds hearts and minds together and opens the way to love. Jesus himself assures us that trusting faith, in the end, is the door to life, to eternal life in the presence of God. He says: "Anyone who believes in me, even though that person dies, will live, and whoever lives and believes in me will never die". Do you believe this? (John 11: 25-26)."

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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