Fourteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time (July 8, 2018)

In today’s Gospel we see Jesus experiencing rejection and being amazed at the lack of faith people have in Him. St. Francis de Sales speaks of faith as consenting to God’s love:

There is often a long period between our first awakening from unbelief and the final resolution we make to believe fully in God’s love and care for us. There are many difficulties that occur between the first movement of faith in the God of Jesus Christ and our full consent to believe. St. Augustine delayed for some time before consenting fully to the teachings of Jesus Christ. But St. Ambrose said to him: “If you do not believe, pray in order that you may believe.”

During this period we pray like St. Augustine who cried out: “Lord, I do believe, but help me in my unbelief.” That is to say, “While I am no longer in the dark night of unfaithfulness, for the beams of your faith light up the horizon of my soul, I still do not believe as I ought. The knowledge that comes to me through faith is still weak and mingles with unbelief.”

God continually draws our hearts until we find the teachings of Jesus pleasing. Till we reach this stage, God’s goodness never fails to reach us through inspirations. However, we are free to consent to God’s loving appeals or reject them. Mighty rivers, coming upon open plains, spread out and take up ever more space. Similarly, if we do not reject God’s holy love, it goes on expanding with continual increase in us until we are entirely converted. Holy love guides us through our journey of forgiveness. It consoles us, animates and strengthens us in our difficulties. Hence faith includes a first start of love that the heart feels for the things of God. Let us not reject this gift of faith.

(Adapted from St. Francis de Sales, Treatise on the Love of God.)