That gospel episode where Christ in the synagogue in Nazareth faulted the people for their lack of faith (cfr. Lk 4,24-30) reminds us that we have to learn how to live by faith, with our thoughts and intentions and everything in our interior world mainly inspired and directed by faith rather than just by our human estimation of things. We have to be wary of our tendency to literally disparage this divine gift of faith.
“There were many widows in Israel in the days of Elijah when the sky was closed for three and a half years and a severe famine spread over the entire land,” he said. “It was to none of these that Elijah was sent, but only to a widow in Zarephath in the land of Sidon. Again, there were many lepers in Israel during the time of Elisha the prophet; yet not one of them was cleansed, but only Naaman the Syrian.”
The reaction of his townmates to these words was one of fury. They even wanted to throw him from a cliff. That’s how bad we can also be with respect to our attitude toward being guided by faith. We prefer to think and live simply by ourselves, as if we can handle all the challenges and predicaments we can encounter in our life.
Living by faith is actually meant for all of us, since our life is a life with God. And living by faith is completely practicable, though it obviously would require a certain discipline. Yes, it will require a lot of effort and sacrifice, a lot of self-denial. But let’s also remember that there is also God’s grace given to us that would enable us to enter into the spiritual and supernatural dimensions of our life.
To live by faith means, first of all, that we believe that God is always with us. And he is not with us in a passive way, but is actually actively intervening in our lives. We should not question this basic truth about God and us since as Creator, God not only creates us but also keeps us in existence.
And given the way we are, with our intelligence and will, plus his grace since we are God’s image and likeness, we are meant to have a personal and intimate relation and connection with God all the time. We are supposed to have an abiding sense of his presence in us, discerning always his promptings.
We are not making this up. We are not fantasizing here, although it’s true that feeling his presence and discerning his promptings will certainly require a lot of effort. That’s because God is way above our nature to comprehend. It’s like having a case of “being so near yet so far.” God is present everywhere. We can always connect with him anytime, but he also remains as the most mysterious of all the mysteries.
That is why we need to go through a certain plan of life that would help us establish and maintain this abiding and intimate relation with God, always conversing with him, referring things to him, asking him questions as well as for help and enlightenment, etc.
We have to study the doctrine of our faith, now clearly and authoritatively taught by the Church, and then avail of certain ascetical and spiritual practices, like regular meditations, contemplation, recollection, retreats, etc.
The ideal to pursue is that of becoming a true contemplative even while being in the middle of the world. A contemplative person is always in conversation with God in all the events of his day and of his whole life!*