How does faith work? Why do some believe and some don’t? Is there such a thing as a “leap of faith”? There are many good questions about faith. Missouri is nicknamed “the Show-Me State”…. people don’t just believe, you need to show me.
Well, the scripture, the saints, and the Catechism says that there’s an important role for reason in the area of faith. To be a person of faith doesn’t mean that you are gullible and just believe anything. Faith requires grace from God and the use of our reason.
- St. Augustine said “I believe, in order to understand … and I understand, the better to believe.”
- The catechism says “so that the submission of our faith might nevertheless be in accordance with reason, God willed that external proofs of his Revelation should be joined to the internal helps of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 156)
Faith and reason go hand in hand. When we hear the word of God, the Holy Spirit helps us to embrace it. At some point we need to respond, we need to take a step, we need to trust. We need to make, at least, a small leap. After that we need to look and see “how did it go”. Did our leap of faith land us in a hospital or in “the arms of God”? Hopefully we continue to place our trust in God and his promises and observe how God responds to our faith.
Many years ago when going thru Army Airborne Training (“Jump School”), the instructors inspired faith…. and some fear. I saw that they were competent and actually seemed to care that we succeeded. I began to trust these men and thought ‘this thing can work if I do what they say’. After they beat your brains out for a couple of weeks, it was time to jump. I was pretty confident that I could “take the leap” and “not be a dot on the countryside”. The chute did open and I didn’t die. My faith and my trust had been ratified. What they said was true.
The leaps get bigger and bigger as our faith grows. The 11th chapter of Hebrews is the “Hall of Fame” of Faith. Abraham is called the “father of faith”. His faith kept growing. Abraham went out not knowing where he was going. He kept trusting God in major leaps of faith. He believed God in radical ways and God’s ways proved true. He became the father of many nations, more numerous than the sands on the seashore. At some point God will call us to be “all in”, like Abraham, to push all our chips into the middle. Wow, talk about exciting. But if we trust in the Lord, we will not be disappointed. God’s answers to his promises will always exceed our expectations. (Note: Check out the Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 142-165 for more good references)