“You have great faith! Your wish will come to pass.” —Matthew 15:28
The Israelites in the desert were called to move into the land occupied by the pagan Canaanites. In comparison to the Israelites, the pagan Canaanites were considered “dogs” (see Mt 15:26). But it was the Israelites, chosen by God to live in the Promised Land, who lacked faith (see Nm 13:28ff). How ironic that a woman of the Canaanites, who were descended from those not chosen to live in the Promised Land, would have “great faith” (Mt 15:28), while the Israelites “suffered for [their] faithlessness” (Nm 14:32), and Jesus’ could not discover much faith among his fellow Israelites (see Mt 8:10; Mk 6:6).
Jesus was incredulous when a man was unsure if He could heal his son (Mk 9:23). He was distressed when His hometown folks lacked faith in His healing power (Mk 6:6). Jesus “showed amazement” in hearing a man who had absolute faith in Him (Mt 8:10). He credited faith in several of His healings and conversions (see e.g. Mk 5:34; Lk 7:50). Jesus looks for faith in any situation (see Mk 2:5). He probes and tests us to find faith (see Jn 6:6; Mt 15:24, 26; 1 Thes 2:4). If we’re in a difficult situation, it is possible that the Lord is testing us to discover if we are living in faith (see 2 Cor 13:5), for He knows that “all depends on faith” (Rm 4:16).
Most of you who read this are Catholics. We Catholics are often referred to as “the faithful.” For example, at Mass we pray “the Prayers of the Faithful.” May we constantly “grow strong in [our] holy faith” (Jude 20) and live as God’s faithful ones, lest Jesus wonder if He will find any faith in the world (see Lk 18:8).
Prayer: “Lord, ‘increase our faith’ ” (Lk 17:5).
Promise: “They forgot the God Who had saved them, Who had done great deeds.” —Ps 106:21
Praise: Ralph converted to the Catholic faith because he was repeatedly touched by the prophetic messages of Our Lady.
The “Epistle of Barnabas”
[ Born Cyprus, died 61 A.D. ]
The Way of Light is this: if any man wants to journey to his appointed home then he must put his whole heart into his work. To aid our steps on the road, illumination has been given to us as follows — love your Maker, fear your Creator, glorify him who redeemed you from death. Be simple in heart, and rich in spirit. Shun the company of those who walk in the way of death. Hate all that is not pleasing to God, hate all hypocrisy, and never desert the commandments of the Lord. Do not proclaim your own importance but keep a modest and humble mind. Do not seek to cover yourself in glory. Make no evil plans against your neighbour. Keep away from the sin of presumption.
Love your neighbour more than your own life. Do not procure abortion, do not commit infanticide. Do not withhold your discipline from your son or your daughter but teach them the fear of God from their childhood onwards. Do not covet your neighbour’s goods or avariciously hold on to your own. Do not cultivate intimacy with the great but keep company with humble and virtuous men. When tribulations come upon you, receive them as you would receive good things, seeing that nothing happens without God. Do not equivocate or speak in double meanings.
Share your goods with your neighbour and do not insist that they are yours alone — for if you are sharers in that which is incorruptible, how much more must you be sharers in that which is corruptible. Do not be in a hurry to speak, for the tongue is a deadly snare. Keep your soul as pure as you can. Do not be someone who stretches out his hands to take, and but keeps them tight shut when it comes to giving. If anyone expounds the word of the Lord to you, love them as the apple of your eye.
Keep the day of judgement in mind, day and night. Seek the daily company of the people of God, either labouring by word of mouth — by going among them, exhorting them and striving to save souls by the word — or labouring with your hands, earning a ransom for your sins.
Do not hesitate to give, and give without grumbling: you will discover who can be generous with his rewards. Keep the commandments you have received, adding nothing and taking nothing away. Hold evil in detestation. Make your decisions fairly and uprightly. Do not cause quarrels, but rather bring together those who are in dispute and reconcile them. Confess your own sins. Do not set about prayer when you have a bad conscience. This is the Way of Light.
“Why, then, did you not fear to speak against My servant Moses?” —Numbers 12:8
“Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses” (Nm 12:1). “So angry was the Lord against them that when He departed, and the cloud withdrew from the tent, there was Miriam, a snow-white leper!” (Nm 12:9-10) ” ‘Vengeance is Mine; I will repay,’ says the Lord” (Rm 12:19). The Lord stands up for His people. He takes personally any attack on us. Remember that Jesus flattened Saul and said: “Saul, why do you persecute Me?” (Acts 9:4) when Saul went after the Church.
Because the Lord avenges His people, we:
must never speak against or attack a child of God,
don’t have to avenge ourselves, and
can be fearless, bold, free, and secure.
Sometimes the Lord does not immediately avenge His people. For example, we ourselves have sinned and are partly responsible for torturing and crucifying Jesus (see Catechism, 598). Apparently, we’ve gotten away with this, or at least we haven’t been struck down by a lightning bolt as yet. However, the Father will eventually avenge the murder of His Son, Jesus. Therefore:
Repent now and go to Confession.
Don’t worry if those who attack you get away with it for a while.
Call others to repentance.
Share willingly in Christ’s sufferings (see Phil 1:29).
Prayer: Father, make me fearless, forgiving, and forgiven. Mary, pray for me.
Promise: “Peter got out of the boat and began to walk on the water, moving toward Jesus.” —Mt 14:29
Praise: St. John Vianney spent at least eleven hours per day in the confessional bringing sinners back to God.