February 10, 2017
If you ask me to doubt the faith that I have in God, then you are asking me to open my eyes to see nothing. And if I ask you to have faith in God, then I am asking you to open your eyes to see something, that is, God and all his good works. But nobody asks another to open his eyes in order to see nothing, but only to see something. In order to see nothing we close our eyes rather than open them. Therefore he who asks another to open his eyes to see nothing in fact asks him to close them. In other words, he who asks another to doubt what he sees clearly, asks him to close his eyes. For he who seeks to see something opens them. He who doubts has his eyes closed and he who believes has them open.
I had a long conversation with a friend who doubts. He does not see what I see, therefore he could not hear what I was telling him about God and His work in my life, though I love him. My faith is grounded in my knowledge and experience of God, which was given to me by His endless grace, and my decision to follow Christ who called me. And my faith is strengthened by the signs and wonders I have witnessed and heard about, and by what I have felt in my heart to be Jesus’ loving and gentle voice, and the higher perception that ties all things together and finds their root and their harmony and their purpose in God the Heavenly Father.
But my friend’s doubts lingered in the private chambers of my heart for a while, as though these (the doubts, not him) were trying to snatch my faith away from me and tempt me the other way. Then this morning’s mass readings spoke to the deep struggle I was going through, that is, the temptation away from my faith in God (in the first reading) and having our ears opened to hearing Him (in the Gospel reading).
As I left the Church, I heard the word “Naphtali” in my mind. Not knowing what it meant, I looked it up. In Hebrew, it means “my struggle, my strife”. I knew the Holy Spirit was acknowledging the painful struggle I had been suffering, and in His glorious way was consoling me, as He is wont to do. I smiled as I made my way to work.
Here are the readings:
The serpent was the most subtle of all the wild beasts that the Lord God had made. It asked the woman, ‘Did God really say you were not to eat from any of the trees in the garden?’ The woman answered the serpent, ‘We may eat the fruit of the trees in the garden. But of the fruit of the tree in the middle of the garden God said, “You must not eat it, nor touch it, under pain of death.” ‘ Then the serpent said to the woman, ‘No! You will not die! God knows in fact that on the day you eat it your eyes will be opened and you will be like gods, knowing good and evil.’ The woman saw that the tree was good to eat and pleasing to the eye, and that it was desirable for the knowledge that it could give. So she took some of its fruit and ate it. She gave some also to her husband who was with her, and he ate it. Then the eyes of both of them were opened and they realised that they were naked. So they sewed fig-leaves together to make themselves loin-cloths.
The man and his wife heard the sound of the Lord God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and they hid from the Lord God among the trees of the garden.
Returning from the district of Tyre, Jesus went by way of Sidon towards the Sea of Galilee, right through the Decapolis region. And they brought him a deaf man who had an impediment in his speech; and they asked him to lay his hand on him. He took him aside in private, away from the crowd, put his fingers into the man’s ears and touched his tongue with spittle. Then looking up to heaven he sighed; and he said to him, ‘Ephphatha’, that is, ‘Be opened.’ And his ears were opened, and the ligament of his tongue was loosened and he spoke clearly. And Jesus ordered them to tell no one about it, but the more he insisted, the more widely they published it. Their admiration was unbounded. ‘He has done all things well,’ they said ‘he makes the deaf hear and the dumb speak.’