Matthew 11: 2-11
John the Baptist is in prison. He is awaiting his execution, so he sends some of disciples to Jesus. To make certain of His identity, they ask, “Are You the one who is to come, or do we have to wait for someone else?” Jesus does not answer “Yes” or “No.” Rather He invites them to open their eyes, ears and hearts to what is going on. “Go back and tell John what you hear and see,” He says. “The blind see again and the lame walk, lepers are cleansed and the dead are raised to life and the Good News is proclaimed to the poor” (Mt. 11:4-5). That was not the description of the Messiah they had been expecting, but it is a perfect description of the kind of Savior Jesus revealed Himself to be: the “Man for Others.” And then Jesus says, “Happy is the man who does not lose faith in Me” (Mt. 11:6). And then he adds a further postscript: Jesus tells us “Happy are those who have not seen and yet believe.”
We’re all on a faith journey. That’s why we worship together, most of us. But what is faith to you? Is it belonging to a denomination? Is it something that you were brought up with and just feels natural to wear – like your favorite sweater? Is it a declaration that you accept certain beliefs and they are part of your core belief system?
You see, Faith can be any of those and faith is composed of a part of all those. But the attainment of truly believing in Jesus Christ is when we abandon ourselves to Christ.
Abandonment to Christ is a heavy-duty word. Think of it from an epistemological perspective. Abandonment invokes a sense of being alone. Abandonment involves a sense of detachment – you are letting go. Abandonment of self carries an even more powerful connotation – that you are letting go of the things and events in your life that make up who you are as a human being.
Now we are getting closer to a definition of faith. When you were a child, did you have a favorite coach or teacher or relative that was an inspiration to you? Were you willing to do almost anything, within reason and childhood intellect, that person asked of you? If you did – or can imagine a person like that, you are starting to get a hint at what faith is. The dictionary defines faith as the complete trust in something or someone and then comes the second definition “a willingness to accept and yield a part of your life to that something or someone.”
Now the meat is on the table. Our faith is supposed to be not only a complete belief in the way of life that Jesus called us to but a commitment to coupling those words with actions so that we LIVE our faith.
Now there are some who cannot accept the consequences of living their life based on a complete belief in Jesus Christ. And, there are those that can say the words and there are those that can play the part. But the complete faith that Jesus calls us to dictates the things we say, the things we do and our relationships with one another. Remember last week’s Gospel? John the Baptist did not stand in the Jordan inviting everyone to come forward to be baptized. No, instead he would only baptize if the person was willing to correct their lives and live them in total accord with Jesus Christ. Total accord. That is what we are called to. Imagine if the Eucharist was withheld from you unless you could say the past week was spent living in total accord with Jesus Christ? How many could come forward and receive?
So those who can’t attain it are left to do what? Well they think, maybe if I go to Church, and I live a relatively good life, I can trust that will be enough. Is it?? Let me ask you something. Do you think our world today would be any different if we truly lived our faith? Of course it would be. Darkness comes because there are too many who say the words but do not live a life that is in accordance with THE word.
That is why the second definition of faith is so meaningful. Abandoning ourselves to God means that we so totally believe in Him and we are so confident in that belief that we are willing to take a step aside and leave ourselves totally in His hands. Now that does not mean standing there like a lump of clay and waiting for Him to direct our lives or take action. What it does mean is that when the events of life surround you with their consequent decisions; then those decisions, those actions, those “major moments” are acted on only after time spent in prayer with Him, asking for His guidance in discerning the actions that you should take.
So there is the definition of a Christian faith. A willingness to live our lives so that they are in total union with Him and his teachings. That means believing that by yielding our lives to Him that He will lead us, He will comfort us, He will provide for us, He will always be at our side, He will never forget us.
We are called to march with Him to a drumbeat that may not be in accord with the rest of humanity, not in accord with the times and not in accord with the politics of the day.
After 41 years of preaching and teaching about Christ, I can assure you that those who attempt to follow Christ every now and then are not living our faith. Rather every moment of our lives should be spent recognizing that He is at our side and watching to see whether our words and actions are those that mirror His love. If we do, then ultimately we will experience the total happiness we need and want.
With Christmas just two weeks away, hopefully your greatest desire is to be numbered among the happy people who do not lose faith in Christ. With Christmas just two weeks away, hopefully you will commit to the coming of Christ into your life by giving of yourself to Christ. Do it and you will experience at the deepest level of your being, the transforming power of God’s love — a love that truly defies description! My Christmas prayer for you is that you will yield to God’s presence in you.