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DEEPENING OUR FAITH

Father Francis's picture
Eighth Week of Ordinary Time

Acts. 19:1-8 & Jn. 16:29-33

The key word in today's two readings is belief. In the first Paul travelled to Ephesus and found there a number of believers. They had been baptised by John and repented of their sins but when Paul questioned them, to his surprise, he discovered that there were huge gaps in their faith. He could not believe they had never heard of the Holy Spirit, nor of baptism in Jesus.

Paul knew they were not to blame. He realised that these good people were eager to know more and were just waiting to receive the gift of faith in all its fullness. So he baptised them in the name of Jesus and then confirmed them in their faith by handing on to them the Holy Spirit. Once they had embraced the faith and received the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation the Ephesians were able to prophesy and speak in tongues.

In the second reading it is clear that Jesus' disciples were also struggling with their faith. They loved Jesus and were ready to follow Him but there were still things they did not understand. Much of His teaching had been in the form of parables and metaphors, and the meaning was not always clear to them. Jesus repeated His message again and again in different ways, until at last He spoke to them in simple words about His Father. The disciples were plain men who understood plain language, and now they were able to accept the message fully and believe wholeheartedly all that Jesus was trying to tell them. No doubt Jesus gave a sigh of relief as He said, "Do you believe at last?"

Belief in Jesus was to be the basis of the disciples' lives. It was this faith which would enable them to spread the Gospel and build up the Kingdom of God. Jesus took great care that His disciples should have a firm faith, because He was going to ask them to go out and share that faith with the rest of the world. He knew that it would be hard for them, having to cope with opposition, discouragement and loneliness; through their faith they would experience His continuing presence and His peace.

We believe in Jesus and we want to follow Him but we, too, are sometimes disturbed by doubts or lack of understanding. Perhaps like the poor man in the Gospel we say, “Lord, I do believe, help my unbelief.” Jesus wants us to believe fully in Him.

Lord Jesus, send us Your Holy Spirit, the Spirit of wisdom and truth, to help us in all our difficulties and to give us the courage to be an effective witness to the Gospel.

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