A New Question to Ponder

Daily ReadingsMonday of the Seventh Week in Ordinary Time
Sir 1:1-10 / Mk 9:14-29

‘If you can’! Everything is possible to one who has faith. [Mk 9:23]

There’s a footnote to this particular story in the New American Bible, which suggests that the definition of “faith” that Jesus uses here is multi-faceted: it includes trust in God, active prayer (possibly including fasting) and a conscious reliance on God’s power. That’s interesting in light of Saturday’s epistle reading, which defines faith as the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen [Heb 11:1].

I never finished my entry for Saturday, but the beginning of it suggested some thoughts about a later verse in Hebrews that explicitly said that a faith that doesn’t believe God rewards us, isn’t pleasing to God; in my case, I don’t believe that God particularly cares for me personally. I compared it to the relationship between a fiction writer and a utility character; writers don’t hate their utility characters, but they also aren’t particularly worthy of any special consideration or development. They exist solely for the purpose of advancing the narrative.

Is it a coincidence, I wonder, that a passage about the nature of faith should be followed so closely by a passage about the way faith works when it’s “done right”? The arrangement of daily lectionary readings means that different passages will “pair up” at different times over the cycles (one year for the Gospels; two years for the first reading/psalm); thus different themes develop at different points. So it could be coincidence.

Or it could be that I’m thinking about the nature of faith and seeing the theme because of that. Given that coincidences are, by definition, extremely rare, this is the more likely explanation.

On Saturday, I had wondered if my belief in my identity as one of God’s utility characters was getting in the way of me having a richer faith life. I was also wondering about the source of the belief itself: is it real, or is it simply another manifestation of my mental illness and the associated abnormal psychology? In other words, am I my own worst enemy when it comes to the strength of my faith?

It’s certainly possible, and certainly worthy of more thought over the next few days and entries.

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