St. Michael's Parish - Cobourg

Notes “on the run” on the Crisis of Faith                                    -Homily May 17, 2015

 

Today’s Gospel makes it clear that to believe is important. People need to embrace what the apostles preach in order to obtain salvation. But in order to believe three things are necessary: A truth that is not relative, the existence of a God in whom to believe, and the fact of Revelation. I want to speak today about this third factor: in order to believe we need God to have said something, we need to know that God has in fact said something we should believe.

 

God has spoken in a certain sense in creation. “The Heavens proclaim the glory of the Lord.” But when we speak about Christian faith, we mean a particular speech, the speech that is oriented to salvation. Not the speech that makes us know about his existence and some of his attributes, but the speech that makes us know about his intimacy and our own salvation. We mean his Revelation in the Old and New Testaments.

 

Once we accept that there is a truth and there is a God who created the world, the question is if the real God has spoken or not in the Revelation of the Old and the New Testaments. In order to answer this question positively, this Revelation must be presented to men and women as something credible, as something really coming from the real God, by a sure sign. What is the unmistakable sign of God being behind a certain Revelation? Miracles and prophecies. If the Revelation is confirmed by miracles that can only come from the Creator of the world, that means that we can reasonably believe that whatever is contained in that Revelation is true.

 

“He who believes and is baptized will be saved; but he who does not believe will be condemned. And these signs will accompany those who believe: in my name they will cast out demons; they will speak in new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly thing, it will not hurt them; they will lay their hands on the sick, and they will recover.” (Mark 16:16-18)

 

Some people say “We do not need miracles to believe in God.” Yes we do! If the person in whom we believe has not shown us any sign that his or her word is the word of God, we have faith in a human being, not in God. In order to believe we need to be sure that what we believe is the word of God, and the only way to be sure of that is by a sign from God, by a sign that is like the signature of God, that is unmistakably connected with him, and that sign is the miracle.

 

“But if we can demonstrate the Revelation, there is no more faith.” We need to make a distinction. What we can demonstrate is that this Revelation comes from God or not. What we cannot demonstrate is the content of Revelation. In other words, if the one who said “I am the Son of God” rose from dead on the third day, it is certain that this statement comes from God. But still, we can neither see nor demostrate the divinity of Jesus: he still looks like a man, and his divinity can neither be seen nor understood in this life. One thing is the evidence of a miracle, and a different thing is the evidence of the divinity of Jesus or the evidence of the Trinity of Persons in one God. We may see the former, but not the latter.

 

“So, those who did not witness a miracle cannot have faith?” False again. The miracle of the resurrection of Jesus and many other miracles are documented in many writings, beginning with the Gospels, and were transmitted to us by our parents, our ministers and other moral authorities. For many people, that testimony will be enough for the rest of their lives. Their faith is genuine because it is rational to believe in trustworthy people, particularly when no occasion arises to doubt their testimony. But when we grow up, or when our faith is challenged by the fall of those who were witnesses of the faith for us, a deeper study might be necessary. I think that nowadays this is increasingly the case.

 

Miracles are necessary to confirm that the message we hear comes from God and not simply from human beings. That is why today’s Gospel says: “And they went forth and preached everywhere, while the Lord worked with them and confirmed the message by the signs that attended it.” (Mark 16:20) May the Lord increase our faith, and help us to live according to what we believe.  –Fr. Andrew