Memorial of Saints John de Brebeuf and Isaac Jogues, Priests and Companions, Martyrs

Knowledge is something that we can acquire, own, and even lose. In a very real sense, then, we can recognize that knowledge is something that we possess. Is faith a type of knowledge, and thus a possession? Or is it something more? Abraham “was fully convinced that what God had promised he was also able to do.” If faith were just some sort of knowledge that “we can bank on,” then we could build barns in which to store it (and our other possessions), satisfied that on the last day we would be saved. Many people do this, knowing that Jesus will save them, and confident that this knowledge will save them on the last day. Thus, they can say, with thanksgiving, “now as for you, you have so many good things stored up for many years: rest, eat, drink, be merry!” But is this really so?

Though faith certainly involves a certain type of knowledge, it may be that what is more characteristic of biblical faith, is our trust in, and attachment to God, which God offers us to us as a grace that invites and enables our own cooperation. In this sense, faith is not only riches, but also poverty: we need to be emptied of our “know-it-all” attitude in order to trust and be led by the God who truly knows and loves and cares for us better than we know how to know and love and care for ourselves and one another. In short, we need to let go of our illusion of independence, that is, our illusion that one can get by on one’s own. Thus, faith is never a “knowledge” that we can “bank on,” and integrate into our lives, as if it were just one piece of the puzzle that we can master and then get on with things. Rather, it is a relationship in which one strives in earnest to live in and for Another.

The rich man thinks that, in his riches, his accomplishments (what is money if not a way to store up and trade in “merit?”), he has all he needs, but in fact, his riches are not at all what really matter. What counts is the child-like love and dependence on the One who is Lord. In one’s riches, one can make oneself lord (or lady) over one’s own self (and over others) and thus flee from or even reject the one who has every right to lord over us in love. True faith never leads to self-satisfaction or to a sense of accomplishment. Paul says that there is just one Faith, one Lord, one Baptism. True faith is not a knowledge, but a cleaving-to and living-in Christ.

October 19th, 2015