March 4, 2011 - Friday of the Eighth Week in Ordinary Time

Today's Readings

Again today we have Jesus making extraordinary claims about what we are capable of if we would only believe. On the surface, it seems that Jesus is claiming that we should have more confidence; his words seem to support those who promote crazy theories like “The Secret”. If we take Jesus’ words out of context, they seem to say that insanity is impossible, that anyone who believes they can fly can in fact fly. This is plainly untrue. Otherwise, children with active imaginations would always be flying around.

If we put the words of Jesus back into context, we can see their meaning more clearly. Jesus begins by saying, “Have faith in God.” Thus, it is faith in God and not faith in ourselves that makes the difference. He does not say that if we believe in ourselves, then we can do it. He says that if we believe in God, then “it shall be done for” us. So Jesus is not saying that every irrational belief will make us powerful. Even if we do pray, expecting God to accomplish something for us, it may not happen. The evils of this world are a mystery, and many times Jesus tells us that we Christians should not expect to be exempt from them.

The faith that Jesus presents encompasses our lives. He tells us that when we go to pray, we should forgive anyone who has done us harm, so that God can forgive us. This faith is bigger than a state of mind: it includes forgiving and being forgiven. This faith requires completely conforming our lives to God’s will. The only way we can have absolute faith that God will do what we are praying for would be if we already knew that what we are praying for is God’s will. When a soul is truly at one with God, a prayer of petition and a prayer of thanksgiving are the same prayer. In this case, we become instruments of God’s will rather than God being a genie granting us wishes. The more we conform our will to God’s will, the more we can exercise his power in this world. God wants us to become these perfect instruments who can move the mountains he wants moved. If we want this kind of power, and we should since it is God’s gift to us, the first step must be to embrace God’s will completely.