Edmund: Did you know humans are the only animals that enjoy spicy foods?
Emily: I didn’t know that.
Edmund: Well… I said it pretty convincingly, didn’t I? I mean, I’m not exactly sure if that’s true. I read it online.
Emily: Well, I almost believed you.
Edmund: And some people think faith is about blindly accepting some statements without questioning them. Or it’s about believing in God without doubt. But faith isn’t like that at all.
Emily: I know what you are saying. When I was younger, I used to think faith was just believing what your parents or a priest told you about God.
Edmund: Your parents or priests can be great teachers, but eventually you need to make your own response to the truths of faith. Someone might tell you something which you need to check out for yourself. But eventually you need to make up your mind and respond on your own.
Emily: And God has to be someone we can trust, right? Basically all of salvation history, all we learn from reading the Bible, is the story of God showing us he’s trustworthy.
Edmund: And throughout salvation history God has been revealing who he is, what he’s like, and his plan of loving goodness for all of us.
Emily: So is that what we mean by faith? What does that really mean?
Edmund: The catechism says,
“Faith is a supernatural gift from God. In order to believe, man needs the interior helps of the Holy Spirit.” (CCC 179)
Faith is a personal and free response to God. Yet even our response flows from God’s grace in the sense that he enables us freely and personally to respond to that call. Imagine that you meet someone and get to know them. You learn a lot about them and what they’re like. You grow to trust them. You have faith that what they say is true, but you also have faith in them. It isn’t something that happens overnight, and it isn’t a blind unfounded or unreasonable faith. You eventually take the risk of this faith and a relationship is built on this faith in what they say and who they are.
Emily: Yeah. The best relationships are that way, for sure. It’s about getting to know someone and then trusting that person.
Edmund: Jesus spoke of faith often. His ability to work miracles often depended on people’s faith in him and his power. Jesus was also a model of faith because he trusted so deeply in the Father. One time, while on a boat in the middle of a raging storm, Jesus even calmed that storm and turned to the disciples who were scared
Emily: Well it’s probably hard to swim with a tunic on…
Edmund: Yeah they were pretty scared and Jesus calmed the storm with just his words, and he turned to them, saying, “Have you no faith?”
Emily: What did Jesus mean by that?
Edmund: Jesus was asking if they trusted not just what God’s plan was, but WHO Jesus is, and who his Father is. And he showed it to us, trusting his Father to the point of death on the cross.
Emily: So faith isn’t unreasonable. We’re able to use our reason or our ability to think rationally and reasonably to come to some understanding of who God is and what he’s revealed. It makes sense, then, that we’re able to respond in faith by trusting what God has revealed.
Edmund: This is exactly why the Church teaches that faith is not opposed to reason and understanding. In the secular world, you’ll often hear that faith and science are opposed, but this isn’t true. Faith is a free and personal response to God. Faith means to submit to the truth of who God is and his plan of loving goodness.
Emily: So we can decide to have faith?
Edmund: Well, sort of. Faith is a deeply human act made possible through grace. Faith is not opposed to our freedom or our reason. But faith is also an act made possible through the help of the Holy Spirit. God enables us to respond in faith. By having faith we are already able to experience God’s help and grace. Our intellect and will are able to cooperate with this gift.
Emily: It sounds like such an important part of our relationship with God.
Edmund: It’s a gift and one of the most important acts we can do. God has revealed himself and we have a choice to respond in some way. When we respond in faith through the help of the Holy Spirit, by putting our thoughts and actions in line with God and his plan, we are doing the first act required to enter into God’s plan of loving goodness for us.
Emily: I’m thinking of the first time I was on a really high diving board. Someone had to talk me through the idea that jumping from such a height was safe. I could ask them whatever questions I wanted to, and could watch other people jump, and think about whether or not I would feel safe. But standing at the top of that diving board, I had to jump at some point and trust, or have faith, that I would be okay. I had to put my faith in my friends and put faith in what they told me and what I experienced.
Edmund: Faith is more than just a level of trust, faith is a deeply human and spiritual act that puts us into a relationship with God. It is necessary for our salvation, meaning it’s necessary for God’s plan of loving goodness for us.
Emily: So faith is a free and personal response we’re all called to make as we learn about who God is, what he’s like, and what he’s revealed. But it’s also a gift of the Holy Spirit. We believe in the truth and we trust the person who’s revealed it to us.
Edmund: God is truth itself. And He wants us to understand who He is, and what he’s revealed. But at the end of the day we can’t just understand him. He wants us to enter into faith, by giving all of ourselves, our thoughts, beliefs, actions, our very lives, over to him because he’s shown himself to be trustworthy by his words and deeds.