Friday, June 1, 2012

Friday in Proper 3: Heroic faith

Opening Sentence
The Lord is in his holy temple; let all the earth keep silence before him. Habakkuk 2:20

Commemoration: Justin Martyr
Almighty and everlasting God, who found your martyr Justin wandering from teacher to teacher, seeking the true God, and revealed to him the sublime wisdom of your eternal Word: Grant that all who seek you, or a deeper knowledge of you, may find and be found by you; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Psalter: Psalm 31

Lessons: Proverbs 23:19-21, 29-24:2; 1 Timothy 5:17-25; Matthew 13:31-35

It is one of the most emphatic and the most difficult points of Christ's own teaching that believing prayer will remove mountains. Our first reaction to such a text is to say "Believing prayer, yes, but of course one has to believe. If I had heroic faith, if I could sweat conviction from every pore. . .," but that anyhow is not the teaching of Christ. I find nothing there about heroic faith; that is his part, not ours. All he asks of us is something which genuinely joins on to his heroic faith. Even the least bit--"faith even as a grain of mustard seed"--will allow a foothold in us to the forces of omnipotence for removing the mountain from our path. Faith even as a grain of mustard seed will give irresistible force to our prayer. And yet, it would seem, many men who think they have faith--for example, the disciples of Jesus whom he was addressing in these words--have not this grain of true belief when they pray, for their prayers lack effect.

I don't find all that Christ asks us to lash ourselves up into a fine frenzy of faith. Faith is above all things serene, not agitated nor violent. What he requires is that our faith, though there be but a grain of it, should be genuine and simple. It comes down to this, that when we pray we should mean what we say. If we invoke God as Father, we are not asking that God should concern himself with certain limited troubles of our own, but that loving concern should take effect without any limits. We cannot pray, "I ask your fatherly love to take effect on me, but I do not want it to take effect through me on those whom you have given me." That prayer is unprayable, but then so is this, "I want your compassion to take me as I am, but I don't want that piece of your compassion which you have placed in me to take others as they are. Just as I am without one plea, but not just as they are, not with any number of pleas."

Austin Farrer
A Faith of Our Own

Ye Watchers and Ye Holy Ones