January 31, 2015
Saturday of week 3 in Ordinary Time
(Saint John Bosco, Priest)
Jesus Is The Future Now
Faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen.
In the different translations, “faith” is the “substance” (the Greek is upostasiv, same word used in “hypostatic union”; google it and go to www.newadvent.org) or “assurance” or realization” of things hoped for, the “evidence,” or “proof,” or “conviction of” things not seen. In the New International Version it is “being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” The Message Bible translates it:
The fundamental fact of existence is that this trust in God, this faith, is the firm foundation under everything that makes life worth living. It is our handle on what we can’t see.
Today’s Gospel just translates it as Jesus.
The disciples were crossing the Sea of Galilee. “A violent squall came up and waves were breaking over the boat, so that it was already filling up. Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion.”
In this picture, Jesus is not only the foundation of all the real “assurance” the disciples had of making it to the other shore alive; he was also—whether they knew it already or not—the “substance,” the reality and “realization” of everything they hoped to find, or do, or experience when they got there. With Jesus, everything; without Jesus, nothing. He is “the substance of things hoped for.” He is it. And he was there with them, in the boat.
His physical body being there—asleep in the stern or not—was the visible proof, source of conviction, the visible evidence of “things not seen.” If we see Jesus we see safety, security, empowerment, fulfillment and meaning in life. Jesus in the flesh is “Emmanuel,” which means “God with us.” When he became visible, all of God’s power, love and protection became visible. Jesus himself is “the evidence of things not seen.”
But we have to see Jesus with eyes of faith. Without faith, none of the above has any meaning for us. So yes, faith is “the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen,” because with faith we see that this is what Jesus is.
Jesus is the starting point. Looking at Jesus is what makes us able to look at Jesus with faith. And looking at Jesus with faith is what makes us able to see what we’re looking at.
So look at him. See what he does in the Gospels. Read and hear what he says. Look and listen with as much faith as you have, and what you see and hear will give you more faith: make the light of faith in you grow, make it stronger and clearer, expand the truth you see and your understanding of it.
Jesus is still visible. First, because when the Gospels show us Jesus acting during his lifetime on earth, it is to teach us—with the authority of God speaking through his words in Scripture—what Jesus is still doing; what it is his nature to do; what he always does. In the Gospels, “what you see is what you get.” What we see him giving to others then is what we are can get from him now, if we go to him with faith.
Second, Jesus is visible in the visible, physical body he has on earth today. Those with eyes of faith can recognize Jesus living and loving in those around them. Like sheep who “know the voice” of their shepherd, they know when it is Jesus speaking to them through others (John 10:4). And, if they are Catholics, they know it is a truth revealed by God that in the “sacraments” (from sacramentum, a “mystery” or “pledge”) Jesus himself is present, speaking and acting with, in, and through the human minister. In Eucharist, Jesus himself on the cross is saying, here and now, “This is my Body given, my Blood poured out, for you.” In the sacrament of Reconciliation, Jesus himself is saying, speaking in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, “I absolve you from all of your sins.” In Confirmation, Jesus himself is saying, “Be sealed with the Gift of the Holy Spirit.” And in Matrimony, Jesus himself is saying with, in, and through the bride and the groom, “I, N., [Jesus under the Christian name he has in this member of his body on earth] take you N. [whom he is espousing] for my lawful (husband or wife), to have and to hold, from this day forward for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until death do us part.”
And when he does that, through our faith we find in him, present already, “the substance of what we are hoping for, the evidence of what we can’t see.”
Faith calls for fidelity. Fidelity is empowered by hope. These are the foundation of “steadfast love” (Exodus 34:6; John 1:17).
Jesus is the promised future made present. Do I choose to see him with faith, follow him with hope, and live with him in love?
Pray: “Lord, increase my faith!”
Practice: Read the Gospels with conscious faith. See people with faith.
Discuss: Is Jesus the foundation of all your hope in God’s promises? What reminds you that he is?