Struggling with doubts in our faith
Rev. Raymond Harris

At the Mass of the Holy Spirit, I said that the decision to follow Christ within the fellowship of the Church provides us with a proven foundation that enables us to have a promising future. A relationship that is important to us will not grow based upon convenience. It will happen by making a commitment to get to know that person, to spend time with that person, and to show that person in concrete ways that they matter to us.

Acting upon our desire to establish friendships involves taking the risk of being accepted or being rejected by others. We are grateful for those times in which we have received acceptance, affirmation, and affection that is appropriate to the level of the relationship. However, there have been painful times in which we have reached out to another person and experienced rejection instead. Entering into a relationship with another person is a risk worth taking because God did not create us to live in isolation from one another.

Our desire to enter into friendship with God is the gift of faith. Faith is an emphatic decision to love God by striving to live according to His purpose for our lives and to be guided by His principles while depending upon His providence. This gift is for everyone. No one is beyond God’s capacity to love.

Accepting the gift of faith means that we are willing to take the risk to believe that whatever God has revealed to us is the Truth, whether that be comforting or challenging. God knows us better than we know ourselves. He does not love us any less when He challenges us to change. It is not that our best is not good enough for Him. God affirms that which is good in our lives, but He is also aware of that which needs to be transformed by His loving presence.

We will not understand everything about God. We are finite human beings who have been lovingly created in the image and likeness of an infinite God. If we knew everything about God, then we would be God. Regardless of how some people may feel about themselves, this is something that will not happen in their lives.

Our encounter with the mysteries of faith increases our desire to know more about One who has loved us before we were born. But how do we deal with doubts about our faith that can affect our relationship with Christ and the Church? St. Peter provides us with an answer.

During a momentous period when many of Jesus’ disciples left him, St. Peter said to our Lord, ‘Master to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life (cf. John 668).’ This is the key to dealing with our own periods of doubts. We need to continue to spend time with Christ, because nothing else can provide us with the proper perspective for dealing with our relationships, academics, athletics, and other commitments.

Let us remain with Jesus by spending time with him at Sunday Mass. Jesus did not say at the Last Supper, ‘Just do anything in remembrance of me.’ He said, ‘Do this in remembrance of me.’ You may be invited to a party, a date, an interesting lecture, a sporting event, or a trip to Gettysburg, Washington, or Baltimore. We can enjoy all of those things, but the most important invitation to accept comes from the altar of the Lord during every Sunday Mass during which he says, ‘This is the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world. Happy are those who are called to His supper.’

Let us remain with Jesus by spending time with Him in personal prayer. For a few minutes in the morning, we can ask Jesus for His blessing and guidance for the day ahead.

For a few minutes in the evening, we can thank God for His blessings, pray about those situations and persons that we may have encountered during the day, and ask for the forgiveness of our sins.

Let us remain with Jesus by taking the time to learn what He wants to teach us in the Bible and the Catechism of the Catholic Church. These are our primary textbooks for living. The acronym, ‘WWJD?’ (i.e., ‘What Would Jesus Do?’), becomes a dangerous and subjective slogan unless it is backed up by the substance of listening to what Jesus says, seeing what Jesus does, and hearing what Jesus teaches through the Church.

Finally, let us remain with Jesus by living in union with Him with the Church. Notice that Peter said to Jesus, ‘Master to whom shall we go?’ The apostles encouraged one another to grow in their faith in Christ. Let us take advantage of the many opportunities for praying, faith sharing, and serving the community that exist within our Mount Community. Jesus assures us that He is present when two or more disciples gather in His name to support one another as followers of Christ (cf. Matthew 1820).

Doubts about our faith may happen from time to time, whether we are making a transition to young adulthood, middle age or senior citizenship. There is nothing wrong with struggling with doubts, but this is not the time to use those doubts to give up on Christ and the Church. Instead, God can use those doubts to draw us closer to Him, helping us to mature in our faith. The struggle to believe in God is worth the effort because the lessons that He wishes for us to learn will lead us into everlasting life.

When we take the risk to enter into a relationship with Jesus, we know that we will never be rejected. He has made a commitment to love us that will never be taken away. That is why faith in God is a risk that is worth taking.

(This article was adapted from a homily that was preached by Fr. Harris on Sunday, August 27, 2000 in the Immaculate Conception Chapel.)

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