Recently I heard the story of a woman who attended a retreat for those who were struggling to heal after an abortion. This particular woman had a painful history, and she was deeply wounded. At one point she was asked: “What do you want from this retreat?” To which she responded, “I want- for just a moment- to believe that God loves me.” This hurting woman was living proof of the philosopher Kierkegaard’s claim that life is not a question of belief versus unbelief; it’s a question of belief versus despair.
In today’s gospel we heard the story of a man- a Roman centurion- who did believe. We learned that he was generous, concerned for others, respected by his community, and an accomplished professional. Jesus knew all these things about him. But when Jesus publicly praised him, what did he single out? Only his faith which, we’re told, left Jesus “amazed.” We might say, then, that the centurion had “amazing faith.”
I imagine that all of us here have faith; if we didn’t, we wouldn’t be here in the first place! Nevertheless, Jesus calls each one of us to have “amazing faith. He wants us to have a deep and unshakable belief in him. Jesus wants us to believe that he answers prayer; to believe in his power to heal; to believe in his forgiveness; to believe that he keeps his promises; to believe that he has a purpose for our life; and most of all, to believe in his love for us.
Faith, of course, is a gift of God’s grace, which means that we can ask God to give it to us. So maybe our prayer this and every day should be for “amazing grace” that we might have “amazing faith.”
Readings for today's Mass: http://www.usccb.org/bible/readings/091211.cfm