Fifth Sunday of Easter – Year A

There come times in the lives of all believers when things get very dark, and they have to believe what they cannot prove, and to accept even though they cannot understand or make sense of what’s happening. It’s at such times that we really need strong faith, but its precisely at such times that our faith can fail us.

It’s easy to convince ourselves that we have a strong faith when things are going well. When a crisis arises we discover what kind of faith we have, or if we have any faith at all. By faith here I mean trust in God.

Of course, there are people who think that if God was with them, and if he really loved them, then no storm would ever hit them. Life should be all plain sailing. So, when a storm does hit them, they experience a deep crisis of faith, thinking that God has abandoned them.

During the Last Supper the apostles were thrown into crisis when Jesus started to talk about his death. On hearing this their hearts were troubled and filled with fear. Knowing that their faith would be severely tested, Jesus tried to prepare them for the ordeal. He said to them, “Do not let your hearts be troubled. Believe in God, and believe also in me.” Since the apostles already believed, in effect what he was saying to them was, “You must go on believing in God and in me.”

At a time of crisis people feel that God has abandoned them. But Jesus assured the apostles that, even though he was leaving them, he was not abandoning them. Rather, he was going to prepare a home for them, and would return to take them to that home. Hence, no matter what happened, no matter how difficult things might get (and they would get very difficult), they must go on believing, go on trusting in him and in the Father. That’s all they would have to do. Go on believing, go on trusting. Easier said than done.

But at a time of crisis that is the only thing we can do – go on stubbornly trusting in God. Trust is the greatest thing we can give to another person. At that hour we must believe that somehow there is a purpose to it all, and that good will come of it. Then the unbearable becomes bearable, and in the darkness a glimmer of light appears.

What real faith does is assure us that God is with us in the midst of the crisis. It is that feeling, that conviction, that we are not alone, that we are not abandoned, which enables us to get through the crisis.

Life is unintelligible and unendurable without God. That’s why faith is so important. When the English singer, Charlie Lansboro, became a Catholic he said, “I believe completely. I can’t imagine my life without my faith. But it took me a long time to get there.”

Those who have faith have a source of comfort and inspiration, especially when trouble strikes. They know that God will be good to them in the end, both in this world and in the next. It is not we who keep the faith; it is the faith that keeps us.

A person with a grain of faith in God never loses hope; because he believes in the ultimate triumph of truth (Gandhi).

So when things are bad, may we hear the gentle words of Jesus: “Believe in God, and believe also in me.”

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