August 10, 2016
The concept of reality keeps coming into mind and prayer lately, more specifically the difference between perceived reality and spiritual reality.
Some rudimentary questions about these two realities come to mind: "Which is more real? Which is more important? And how can I tell the difference?" But after a little deeper reflection, it quickly becomes clear that the most important task that lies before is not to know more about the concepts, but to train my sensitivity to that spiritual reality.
When we believe in God, we subscribe to a belief in the unseen. I mean, that's even part of the creed we say every Sunday:
I believe in one God,
the Father almighty,
maker of heaven and earth,
of all things visible and invisible.
In this past Sunday's readings, Paul gives us both the proof of a spiritual reality and the key to understanding it: Faith.
Brothers and sisters:
Faith is the realization of what is hoped for
and evidence of things not seen.
Because of it the ancients were well attested.
Note the verbiage here! Faith is not expressed as hope, as a vague notion that things are generally going to work out for our good, but it's expressed in concrete, earthy tones. It's the 'realization'. It's the 'evidence'. Paul is telling us that faith is our hopes come true and proof positive of a spiritual reality.
Interestingly, when Faith is viewed in light of this passage, it no longer becomes a tool that helps us cope, but a gift in itself. How often have we given thanks for our gift of faith lately? I bet if we did that more, our faith would feel a lot more like the answer God knows it is than the passing condition we think it to be.
When we attempt to take faith as God's reply to our prayers and longing to be with him, we can often be tempted by the adversary's voice. It tells us, "Faith isn't the goal! Will you be so easily satisfied by faith, when you truly desire to be with God? It's not enough." His voice is the one that has trained our world to treat faith as "not enough" or a temporary fix. Put a name to the lie and it loses power.
Here's my truly sage advice: Believe Paul, not that voice.
And just in case you needed a little more convincing, Paul tosses in the little miracle of Abraham's legacy:
So it was that there came forth from one man,
himself as good as dead,
descendants as numerous as the stars in the sky
and as countless as the sands on the seashore.
As a closing prayer, I ask you to meditate with this reading (Reading 2 HERE), especially letting the following verses speak to your places of unbelief:
All these died in faith.
They did not receive what had been promised
but saw it and greeted it from afar
and acknowledged themselves to be strangers and aliens on earth,
for those who speak thus show that they are seeking a homeland.
If they had been thinking of the land from which they had come,
they would have had opportunity to return.
But now they desire a better homeland, a heavenly one.
Therefore, God is not ashamed to be called their God,
for he has prepared a city for them.
Praised be Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd.