Homilette for Monday, February 23, 2009

Monday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time

(Sirach 1:1-10; Mark 9:14-29)

We sometimes think of faith as acceptance of Church teaching. In the old “Act of Faith” we proclaimed, “O my God, I believe that thou art one God in three divine persons, the Father, the Son, and the Holy Ghost.” This understanding of faith is valid and necessary. But first and foremost, faith is a relationship with God. It is placing our hand in His (so to speak) or, for Christians at least, in that of His Son, Jesus Christ.

In the gospel today the father of the boy with a demon expresses the quality of faith that most of us share. “I do believe,” he tells Jesus, “help my unbelief!” Like that desperate man, we have an incipient relationship with Jesus. But it is not strong because we have not nurtured it with prayer. Somehow we must increase the quality and quantity of our prayer life.

Formal prayers give us a place to start. The rosary requires significant time and now offers more mysteries to contemplate. Grace before meals is minimal but does remind everyone that God provides our daily sustenance. Done in public, it also gives witness to our love for God. Most of all, we need to participate in the Eucharist as often and as devoutly as possible. We also might converse with God like the Jewish milkman, Teyve, in Fiddler on the Roof. Riding alone in a car, we can turn off the radio for a few minutes to thank God for blessings received, repeat our love for Him, and – most of all -- request His help with whatever worries us. Doing so, we move our faith to maturity.