Lord Increase Our Faith – Fr Eze Osita Alex

 In Homilies

Today, the Church takes us to a higher level of our core Christian demand- FAITH. Faith is a supernatural gift of God. God gives it to those who yearn for it and not to those who do not desire it. Faith means courage to believe in the invisible. Today, in our different churches (Pentecostals in particular), we believe that faith is dependent on the volume of shouts of AMEN or I CLAIM IT when the man of God says it is well with us. Or the ability to oppose the doctrine of another church or fight an enemy. Two issues are the bedrock of faith: courage and action. You have faith when you say you believe in God and in the midst of challenges you do not shift base and maintain your stand. You have no faith when you say you believe and claim all the claimable yet at little thing you run to baba lawo, etc. A community somewhere said they had rejected Satan and all its allies. They burnt all the juju and deities in the communities. One day a child was killed in the community and all of them in one accord contributed money and moved to a Dibia’s house in search of solution. Can we say they have faith?

Prophet Habakkuk prophesied in Israel around 600BC before the Babylonian captivity. At this time, Political intrigue and idolatry were the stones in the rice. Habakkuk prayed and prayed but it seemed his prayer was not reaching the heavens and out of anthropomorphic nature questioned God for the reason why his prayer was not heard. Many of us are in that situation where we are working and to pay #30,000 minimum wage is a problem while some receive millions of naira as salary.  Some are graduates but no work,  some have finished apprenticeship, no money to begin, another is married for many years no issue, yet ill-health is also threatening and a host of other life challenging troubles. When Habakkuk questioned God, Our Lord told him, “the vision awaits its time, if it seems slow, wait for it, it will surely come, it will not delay.” He went further to say, “the righteous shall live by faith.” Be patient with the Lord, He will surely establish You. Believe in him and do not lose hope.

St. Paul in the second reading highlights the properties of faith thus God’s gift is not a spirit of timidity, but the Spirit of power, and love, and self-control. Faith and love go hand in hand. As children of God we should not drop down at any little temptation.

In the Gospel the Apostles prayed for the increase of faith. Faith is a Divine gift that helps us to believe firmly and not lose hope in all divine revelation. Do not lose a sense of the Divine presence, pray always for it.

  1. FAITH MANIFESTS IN ENDURANCE: It increases our waiting capacity and makes us never to grumble while waiting. The Israelites got tired of waiting because they had no faith and made for themselves a golden calf. Exod 32:1. Never You become tired. It is a challenge of faith. The man in John 5:1ff never got tired, he had faith and waited without grumbling for the coming of the Spirit upon the water for his healing and when Jesus saw his faith, He made him wholesome. If it seems slow wait for it. God will surely and I Mean surely establish You.
  2. FAITH MAKES US FEARLESS: One who has faith never fears. Satan builds fear in us and steals our soul. The secret of Satan’s success is building of fear. Once we can conquer fear and phobia, our faith will increase. Bartimaeus lost a sense of fear and overpowered the public with his voice and received his healing (Mk 10:46ff). On Pentecost day, the fear that engulfed the Apostles vanished and Peter spoke authoritatively. Cf Act. 2:1ff. The Israelites, while they were moving to the Promised land, were ceased with fear and Moses spoke courage to them and they crossed over with no qualms. He told his Apostles in Matt. 14:22ff, “take courage it is I, fear not.” Let us pray for a fearless spirit for we received the spirit of courage and not intimidation or fear as St. Paul will say
  3. FAITH REMOVES OBSTACLES: The Apostles prayed for the increase of faith because they could not do the miracle they wanted, the obstacle was not removed and they prayed for the increase of faith. In Zach. 4:6 the bible says, it’s not by power nor by might but by Spirit and faith, this mountain shall be removed. Let us pray for faith to help us banish every obstacle. By faith, the obstacle of sickness of Jairus daughter was removed Mk 5:21. In 2Kgs 4, the faith of the Shunammite woman restored her Son.
  4. FAITH PUSHES US TO POSITIVE ACTION WITHOUT DELAY: The Apostles saw themselves as incapable of doing the work. They could not push forward and seemed to be feeling shy to do the work well and they prayed, Lord increase our faith. When the faith of Zacchaeus was increased, he climbed the tree. Imagine Such a rich man climbing a tree. Faith can do anything. Out of faith he repented and promised to pay back all he had cheated and give half of his riches to the poor and Jesus said to him, “today salvation has come to this house.” What is it that spurs you into action, is it faith or phone, electrical gadgets, money, friend, alcohol, women/men, etc. Another question is what kind of action does it push you into?

Faith Cannot be without love and love is not just immaterial but pragmatic but a Christo-centric love. Hence St. James says, faith without Good work is dead. James 2:17.

Let us join the Apostles today in praying for an increase of faith especially in this country where hardship has made many lose faith and hope, a lot of people Cannot cope any longer. May God grant us the fortitude and grace to still see meaning in life and never to lose faith and hope through Christ Our Lord. Amen.

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