In the first chapter of John’s gospel, we read about two disciples of John the Baptist who began to follow after Jesus. Jesus asked them, "What are you looking for?" There is another question that logically follows. "What is Jesus looking for?" We soon find out that Jesus is looking for faith.
He could not work many miracles in Nazareth because of the people’s lack of faith. (cf. Matthew 13:58) He criticized his apostles in the rocking boat, "Why are you terrified, Oh you of little faith." (Matthew 8:26) He chided Peter who for a brief moment walked on water, than doubted. "Oh you of little faith. Why did you waver?" (Matthew14:31)
On the other hand, Jesus cured the sick daughter of the Canaanite woman, telling her. "You have great faith. Your wish will come to pass." (Matthew 15:28) Jesus praised the woman who washed his feet and dried them with her hair, telling her, "Your faith has been your salvation." (Luke 7:50) Jesus cured the Centurion’s son, saying, "I have never found this much faith in Israel" (Matthew 8:10)
In our first reading today we have the sentence, "The just man will live by faith." Further it says, "We are… among those who have faith and live." The faith Jesus is looking for is more than mere intellectual consent. It is more than verbal agreement. It is a passionate faith, a faith that floods our hearts, grips our souls, and reaches into the very core of our being. This is the faith that began as a mere mustard seed when the apostles first started to follow Jesus, but it grew into a faith so strong that it blossomed into martyrdom and sainthood. This is the faith that will see us through tough times, even enduring "a great contest of suffering," knowing we have "better and more permanent possessions," the love of Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
Fr. Alan Philip is a member of the Passionist Community in Sierra Madre, California.