Sunday, October 7, 2012

2012/10/07 - Year of Faith

Billy was four or five years old, and he was sitting in church and heard the Priest talking about Faith.  He was sure he'd heard that word before, but for some reason, today, he was old enough to realize that he didn't really know what faith was.  So, on the way home from church, sitting in the back seat of the car, he asked the smartest person he knew... Mom.  The answer she gave him stuck with him it just seemed to make sense to him.  Mom told him that faith was like a seed that God planted inside of our hearts when he created us.  That seed is like a homing signal reminding us that God is our Father and our best friendwe can trust him.  Billy got kind of quiet thinking about it... and he looked at his own Dad and thought it was kind of odd that Dad is father AND God is father.  Billy didn't question that answer.  It was good enough for him.  That little seed was for him his personal connection to God.  He talked to him every so often... Like when he saw a pretty red and orange tree in the fall, he'd say, thank you God.  When his dad was in the hospital, he talked to God asking him to help his Dad...and then he thanked God when his Dad came home from the hospital.  That seed inside of Billy was strong. 

I say 'was' strong, because that's was years ago.  Somewhere along the line, Billy got interested in other stuff... Toys... sports... girls...carseducation... job.Until Billy had completely forgotten about that little seed of faith inside of him.   

Many of us are like Billy...when we were younger, we accepted our faith it was just a normal part of life.  We didn't NEED to understand it...  (I was watching today as the little kids came into church:  they would follow Mom and do what she did.  Dip their fingers in the water, make a sign of the cross, genuflect when going into the pew.  They dont understand it they just accept it.)  As we got older, that childish faith just didnt make sense anymore, so we didnt pay much attention to id.  Yeah, we still come to church, but we never really thought of Jesus as our personal friend.  Our faith grew weaker, rather than stronger, because we let the weeds of busyness choke out that seed in our hearts. 

Can anybody relate to that?  If so, I have some good news...  The Pope has declared the next year to be the Year of Faith.  It starts this Thursday, the 50th anniversary of the opening of the second Vatican council, and its also the 20th anniversary of the publishing of the catechism.  Why do we care? 

Heres what the Pope said

He calls us to a renewed conversion to Jesus, and a rediscovery of our faith so that "the members of our church will be credible and joy-filled witnesses to the risen lord in the world of today -capable of leading those many people who are seeking it to the 'door of faith'"

I know... Too often the words of the Pope are a bit hard to interpret.  What he's really doing is inviting every one of us to re-discover our faith, to learn about it, to practice it, and to live it in our daily lives.  To use the analogy of Billy, we are invited to water, fertilize, and nurture that seed of faith that is inside each one of us to make it grow into something beautiful.  Why?  The Pope offers a couple reasons... Mainly so that we can be witnesses to the rest of the world who hasn't yet realized they have that seed inside them.  There are people out there in the world who are badly in need of our witness of joy that comes from our faith and our personal relationship with Jesus.  Can you and I honestly say that we are ready to share the joy of our Faith?  We cant share the fruits of a tree that has not borne fruit.  If the seed of faith is still just a seed inside us, then we don't have that credible, joy-filled experience to share with others.  Faith requires action ... action to keep it alive... And action to help it grow. 

How can we do that?  Our adult formation team will be offering a variety of ways over the next 12 months specifically to help us all nurture the seed of faith inside us. 

The first thing is a Small group study starting Nov 4th.  We have a little book put together specifically for the YOF.  Its a good start to help us to learn about our faith with a strong emphasis on learning what the bible tells us about it.  Nov 4 is only a month away, so we need to start signing up immediately...there are sheets at door.  We need to know by Oct 21 so we can order the books.  They're $9 each, but if the cost is an issue, just see me. 

Other things are listed in the bulletin:  CD of month, Food for Your Faith (you may remember this is where we have a potluck meal followed by a speaker); during Lent, we'll have the Catholicism series led by Fr. Eugene;  we'll have family movie nights here at the parish.   Well offer retreats and pilgrimages, plus encouraging participation in the sacraments and eucharistic adoration.  We will also learn about our faith by putting it into action.  We will work with the Grace Co-op... Serving meals, cleaning gutters, doing yard work, taking meals to the homebound, plus more.  We will be going to Haiti in June.  We continue to serve the community meals every other month... (And by the way, we need people to sign up to be called if we are short-handed. Contact Leah Beckman).   These are all ways we can not only put our faith into action, but through our actions, we provide that 'credible witness' to the world that the Pope talked about. 

Being a member of Gods family is more than just being Catholic.  Our faith requires action:  Action to learn, action to experience, action to bring others to find joy like we can in our faith.  Our theme for this next year is FAITH REQUIRES ACTION.  We will have a banner up here pretty soon to remind us of that. 

I mentioned in my story earlier that Billys dad had been in the hospital.... Now let me tell you the rest of the story.  Billy's dad was burned when their house burned down.  He had tried a couple of times to get up the stairs to Billy's room to save him from the fire, but the heat and flames kept pushing him back and received some pretty severe burns.  Finally, he yelled to Billy to go to the bedroom window.  Racing to the back of the house, his dad looked up as Billy struggled to open the window and push the screen out.  His dad yelled JUMP... and without a moments hesitation, Billy jumped...safely into the arms of his father.  Faith requires action.  We gotta jump.

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