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Faith is a Gift

One of the Gospel passages this week was one story about the Pharisees requesting for a definitive sign from Jesus just so that they can believe without any doubt that He is the Christ.  Jesus refused to give them a sign except that of Jonah and his three days inside the belly of a fish – and of course, there was something greater than this in their midst.

I’m reminded of some related reflections I had on this topic.

One possible sign to make people believe is if the devil actually showed up.  God doesn’t want us to feel forced to love Him and follow His commandments, even if such are for our own good, out of respect for our free will.  The sight of pure evil will be shocking enough to encourage people to stop sinning – but this will only be done out of fear, not out of love.  Besides, the devil would want us to believe he doesn’t exist because he’s more effective in operating covertly.  If we see outright that he’s leading us to our ruin then we will resist even harder.

Another sign that could make people believe is if God showed His might in the grandest way possible.  Entering today’s scene, essentially showing Himself to everybody will definitely display all His power and might.  People will follow and obey Him henceforth.  Although that looks all nice and what-not, the level of freedom that people operate with to come to such a decision seems limited.  They’re not following Jesus out of love for Him; they’re doing it just because He has proven that He is God, and everything that comes with that.  In other words, they’re doing it out of fear.  And God doesn’t want us to love Him out of fear, for such isn’t true love at all.  Besides, to the truly obstinate, no show of force or grandiose display of miracles will ever convince them to believe.  Their hearts are closed to the truth, and for such people, showing off one’s power is just a waste of time.

The take-away I got from the priest’s Homily is this: For Faith to be a gift, it must be free.  It must be free from any coercing influence that will require someone to believe whether they want to or not.  No matter how good something is, out of respect for their desires and choices, people should still have the option to reject it.  If you have to force someone to believe in something then maybe such isn’t as definitive and real as you claim it to be.  And even if such were true beyond reasonable doubt, there’s nothing you can do for the person who refuses to believe despite all the evidence you present.

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