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no. 49

INTRODUCTION: "Keys for Living God's Will" by the respected religious Father John Hampsch, C.M.F. is a regular feature of each issue. Fr. Hampsch continues with excerpts from his book, co-authored by Clint Kelly, entitled "Faith: Key to the Heart of God" in which we see Fr. John's teachings put into succinct stories that all can relate to and which will unlock the door to understanding how faith can come alive in our own daily experience. Father has made available, through God's Living Word, how to capture Heaven's fire in our soul and how to blaze a victory trail both here on earth and in Heaven. Fr. John illustrates how Jesus exudes faith in and for us and only by loving Him unconditionally can we truly demonstrate our love for Him through nurturing our faith as he illustrates in his twenty-ninth installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith. Fr. John's column along with columns by Sister Mary Lucy Astuto and Father Stephen Valenta, O.F.M. Conv. promise simple, but effective and vital insights into our faith and ways of fulfilling God's Will every day in every way. We invite you to visit his website at http://members.aol.com/HampschCTM/ctm/home.html or you can reach him at HampschCTM@aol.com or John Hampsch@WebTV.com by e-mail.
Key to the Heart of God
Twenty-ninth Installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith

      All through Scripture we find admonitions to avoid smugness at any level of faith; we should never become self-satisfied but work to increase that faith. The greatest spiritual disease is smugness - the "Iím-good-enough" attitude. "I go to church every Sunday, so Iím a good Christian. "That kind of petty mentality does not allow for growth or development. Yet Paul says to be accepting of others whose faith is weak (Romans 14:1). Thatís what God does with us in our weakness of faith, for He will not crush the bruised reed nor quench the something that is weak, a dying flame, and let it die out. He will pour fuel on a smouldering fire, as He did through His prayer for Peterís faith-growth (Luke 22:31).

      If we take whatever little bit of faith we have and present it to Jesus to work on, He will cause it to develop. In Matthew 25 we read about the talents, different proportions of money loaned to each of three people. The first two invested and doubled it, bringing joy to their master. But the one who did not invest, but buried his him to be punished. He was punished, not for stealing, but for leaving his money to yield no interest. A sin of neglect is sometimes worse than a sin of act (cf. James 4:17).

      If we donít develop the faith that is given us, weíll suffer the consequences. If we donít invest and grow in that faith we may become smugly satisfied, claiming that we havenít wasted or lost our faith; weíre still practicing our faith, but weíve buried it in some way. We will have to render to God an account of our neglected stewardship. God expects us to grow, not simply to stagnate. Letting our faith deteriorate is bad, but letting it grow stagnant isnít much better. "Without faith it is impossible to please God" (Hebrews 11:6). But without growth in faith, it is impossible to do Godís Will as productive stewards of His gifts.

      We all have some degree of faith. We have to learn how to let it grow, and even to make it grow, in the sunlight of Godís grace. We do that mainly by living our faith to the fullest. Faith has to be a lived-out thing, invested, involved, activated. Romans 1:17 "The just man will live by faith" (cf. Habakkuk 2:4; Galatians 3:11).

      Faith will grow if we give it a chance. We donít have to be upset if we notice that we donít have faith that moves mountains. I have really not met anyone with that level of faith. But we might let ourselves feel a bit guilty about the negligent way in which we exercise the faith we have. God may touch us with the realization that weíre not really developing our faith, that weíre on a kind of faith plateau, living day by day in a routine way. Colossians 2:7 reminds us that just as we had faith to believe in the Lord to save us, now we must go on beyond that to believe in Him to help us handle our many daily problems.

      Paul suggests that we give ourselves a test of faith (II Corinthians 13:5): "Do you feel Christís power and presence more and more within you?" (More and more signifies growth.) "Or are you just pretending to be Christian when actually you arenít at all?" Ask yourself, apply the test to "see if you really be of the faith.

Next Installment: Vertical Growth: Fertilizing Faith - second part.

To review Father Hampsch's previous columns in this series, go to Archives beginning with the May 12, 1997 issue of A CALL TO PEACE: volume 8, no. 10.

March 10, 1998     volume 9, no. 49
Father John Hampsch Column

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