The Power of Faith   by Rev. Ray Atwood, Sacred Heart Parish

 Zoos are wonderful places to visit in the summer. Much can be learned about God’s creation as we wander through various pens, cages, and enclosures. Take the African impala, for example. The African impala can jump to a height of more than ten feet over a distance of greater than thirty feet. Yet these magnificent creatures can be kept in an enclosure in any zoo with a three-foot wall. Why? These animals will not jump if they cannot see where their feet will land.

Some people are like that. They will not take the leap of faith if they cannot see how things will turn out. They find it hard to submit to a power greater than them. They live in a world that questions everything and encourages us to live independently of an all-powerful God.

Faith is a theological virtue. It is the ability to submit mind and heart to God. Catholics distinguish between virtus fidei and actus fidei. Virtus fidei (virtue of faith) is the capacity to believe planted in the human heart at Baptism. On the other hand, actus fidei (act of faith) is an explicit personal acceptance of Christ in mind and heart. The capacity to believe is planted at Baptism, but only a personal act of faith can turn that capacity into a lived reality. Disciples of Christ may be baptized, but without a personal act of faith, they will not live out their calling as followers of Christ.

The Letter to the Hebrews reminds us: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (11:1). Faith lets us see beyond senses and enables us to experience the power of God in the midst of a dark world. People are trapped in various enclosures (e.g., dysfunctional families, broken marriages, abusive relationships, unfulfilling jobs, mental or physical handicaps). But faith shows us God’s Hand at work in the difficult situations of life. Faith can liberate us and enable us to be witnesses to Christ. When we “see” with the eyes of faith, we are freed from the flimsy enclosures of life.

May we make a personal, daily commitment to Jesus Christ and activate the virtue of faith planted within us.