Fr. Mike’s homily for Saturday of the 18th Week in Ordinary Time Cycle I
Theme: Theological virtue of faith
By: Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches
Homily for Saturday August 7 2021
When they came to the crowd a man approached, knelt down before him, and said, “Lord, have pity on my son, for he is a lunatic and suffers severely; often he falls into fire, and often into water. I brought him to your disciples, but they could not cure him.” Jesus said in reply, “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you? Bring him here to me.” Jesus rebuked him and the demon came out of him, and from that hour the boy was cured. Then the disciples approached Jesus in private and said, “Why could we not drive it out?” He said to them, “Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
The Gospel today talks about the theological virtue of faith. It is a virtue that is necessary for salvation, since “without faith it is impossible to please God” (Heb 11: 6).
Understandably, it is difficult to come up with a precise definition, for, as St. Thomas Aquinas said, “Faith has to do with things that are not seen, and hope with things that are not in hand.” According to the author of the Epistle to the Hebrews, “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen” (Heb 11:1).
Faith provides a person with tangible evidence that the things promised in the Word, although unseen, are real and true. Faith is not only an assurance or conviction, but is something very tangible that it is in itself the evidence or the reality of those things that are not yet visible. In other words, it becomes a reality in the spiritual realm. For a person who has faith, everything is possible because, although not yet seen, they are already the reality.
That is the reason why the Lord, in the Gospel today, said, “Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.” In short, if that faith is authentic, no matter how small it may be, anything that is hoped for or believed in is for real.
In the Gospel, Jesus expressed dismay at the people’s lack of faith: “O faithless and perverse generation, how long will I be with you? How long will I endure you?” Privately, He explained to His disciples the cause of their inability to drive out the demon from the boy: “Because of your little faith.”
During these times, Jesus may as well use the same words to describe us: “faithless and perverse generation.” Painful but true. We profess to be Christians. We believe God is true and living. We believe that Jesus Christ is God. But for many of us, these beliefs are only cerebral and academic, for they are hardly manifested in our behavior and actions.
Let me cite some examples. We are now living in the age of technology. We have computers and all sorts of electronic gadgets. But many people still believe in superstitions: things that are not supported by science and reason. And amazingly, many people choose to ignore scientific data in favor of their superstitious beliefs. Worse still, they hold on to these beliefs even though they are contrary to the teachings of Christ and the Church.
For instance, in marriage. There is the belief that siblings cannot get married within one year (“sukob sa taon’). And so, the other sibling will just maintain a live-in relationship without the benefit of the sacrament of marriage. They prefer living in sin than violate a superstitious belief. This is also true with the practice of cremation. This is already allowed by the Church, but with strong admonition that the remains of the departed must be respected and interred in holy grounds as soon as possible. But how many families have in their homes the urn containing the ashes of the dead? Some even decide to scatter the ashes in the sea. Still others carry around their necks a small amount of ashes as amulet or lucky charm.
Another example is the increasing number of people, including Catholics, indulging in occult practices: magic, astrology, fortune telling, divination, faith healing, feng shui, spirit of the glass, ouija board, and the like. Many are fascinated by stories about zombies, vampires, witchcraft and characters of darkness. This explains the tremendous success of horror movies, Harry Potter movies and similar film genre, compared with the movies with religious themes. These people do not realize that patronizing the devil makes him more powerful. No wonder, there is a phenomenal surge in the number of demonic possessions all over.
However, the most common example of lack of faith even among Catholics is practical atheism. They are baptized Catholics. But they live as if God does not exist. Their values, principles and behavior are opposed to the faith. We will be amazed at how numerous are the Catholics who are in favor of legalizing abortion, divorce, death penalty, artificial birth control, abortion and euthanasia. Yet they claim to be Catholics!
God is alive. God is all-powerful. But His hands are tied if people do not have faith in Him. We are living in these times of danger, uncertainty and fear. What the world needs now is not money, nor nuclear arms, nor politicians. What we need is genuine faith, even just as little as the size of a mustard seed.
Fr. Mike Lagrimas
St. Michael the Archangel Parish
Diocese of Novaliches