Faith Active in Love

Manila Bulletin, April 14, 2007 | Go to article overview

Faith Active in Love


Byline: Fr. Bel R. San Luis, SVD

IT's been related that while Father (later Bishop) Fulton Sheen was giving a public lecture, explaining Jonah and his mission, a heckler from the audience harassed him to the point of being disrespectful. The young fellow expressed cynical doubt whether God could make Jonah live three days in the belly of the whale.

An exhausted Sheen finally said: "Forget it, I'll ask Jonah when I get to heaven."

"What if he isn't there?" heckled the doubter. "Then you ask him," replied Sheen.

* * *

In today's second Sunday after Easter, we encounter a similar doubter in the person of Thomas, one of Jesus' apostles.

"Unless I see the scars of the nails in his hands and put my fingrer on those scars and my hand in his side, I will not believe" (Jn. 20:24).

* * *

Thomas got his wish after the ensuing week when the Risen Lord appeared. Mildly censuring him, Jesus called him by name and said, "Put your finger here, and look at My hands. Touch and feel My side. Cease to doubt, but believe!" (Jn. 20:27).

Confronted with the real person, there was no more need for Thomas to touch, to feel Christ's side. Instead he fell on his knees and cried: "You are my Lord and my God."

* * *

Jesus acknowledged that Thomas had moved from doubt to faith. "You became a believer because you have seen. You believe because you have proof."

But Jesus refers to his friends who were not present, saying: "Blessed are they who have not seen, and yet have believed." (Jn. 20:29).

* * *

Faith according to Webster dictionary is defined as a complete trust and confidence in some person or thing.

For instance, we allow a totally unknown person to fly us for thousands of miles over mountains without ever knowing the pilot nor his background.

Or a man surrenders his heart, literally, as in heart bypass to a person without ever asking for his license or examine his medical training.

* * *

This reminds of a lady patient who was being wheeled into the operating room. She was visibly nervous. "Doc, please be gentle with me," she told the young doctor escorting her. "This is my first time to be operated on."

To which the doctor replied, "That's alright, madam. We're the same. This is also my first time to do an operation!"

* * *

If there is such a thing as human faith, there is also such a thing as divine faith.

But divine faith does not mean merely professing belief in the Risen Christ and his teachings. Christian faith has to bear fruit in actual works of love. Paul says that "the only thing that counts is faith active in love" (Galatians 5;6); St. James teaches, "Faith without works is dead. …

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