Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith.” (Mt 17:19-20).
How do the disciples get from this recurring theme of having little faith in the Gospel accounts to Peter healing a crippled beggar by saying with boldness, “I have neither silver nor gold, but what I do have I give you: in the name of Jesus Christ the Nazorean, [rise and] walk” (Acts 3:6)?
A helpful definition “is to say that faith always entails a relationship between persons which stands or falls with the credibility of the person who is believed” (Rahner and Vorgrimler 1965, 164). Faith is not just an intellectual exercise, it is a lived experience. Christian faith is the conviction, belief, and relationship experienced with Jesus the Christ. The disciples learned from Jesus but more importantly developed an intimate relationship with him, such that the love they received and shared became so strong that there was no more room for doubt, distraction and/or fear, such that they would align themselves with the will of God and do what Jesus did and by his power working through them they would do even greater deeds than he (cf. Jn 14:12-14)!
We are invited to do the same. If we only read the Gospels or hear them read we may know something about Jesus, but our life will for the most part remain unchanged. When we read, meditate, and pray with the Gospels and put into practice what we read, we will encounter Jesus as did his disciples and we will come to know and develop a relationship with Jesus and be conformed to him. In this way, we are not just reading a dead letter but encountering the living Word, the Son of God, who invites us to share in the infinite dance of Love that he participates in with God the Father and God the Holy Spirit.
As our relationship and intimacy with Jesus grows and matures we too will be able to say with conviction the words of Paul: “I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me” (Galatians 2:20). The best barometer of how we are doing with our relationship with Jesus, is how do we think, speak, and act toward each other?
Painting credit: CB Chambers, Sacred Heart of Jesus, a gift given to me by Jim and Christine Zoeller, now hangs in my classroom at CN!
Rahner, Karl and Vorgrimler, Herbert. Theological Dictionary. New York: Herder and Herder, 1965.