Part of our journey of faith is the experience of doubt. Indeed, in the Gospel today, the apostles asked the Lord to increase their faith. Apparently, they were struggling as we all do, including Mother Teresa, with questions about God’s providence and love. In response, Jesus uses the image of seed and declares that even a “small” faith is sufficient for God to achieve divine purposes.
Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote about her struggles to experience her belief in God in a number of letters. She experienced the dark night of the soul, an absence of God that caused her great pain. But all we have to do is turn to her life and witness her faith in action. The work that she did in helping the poorest of the poor should be sufficient for any reasonable person to come to the conclusion that Mother Teresa was a woman of deep faith and love.
St. Paul was a man of deep faith. No doubt, he had his doubts at times, that is, if he was truly human. Seldom do we find any doubts expressed in his pastoral letters. In fact, we find just the opposite. Today he tells us: “Guard the rich deposit of faith with the help of the Holy Spirit who dwells within us.” Faith is a rich deposit and must be nurtured by prayer, penance, pastoral work and study. Mother Teresa did those spiritual activities and the presence of her community throughout the world verifies that she did guard and nourish that rich deposit of faith.
The prophet Habakkuk cries out to the Lord for help. That cry might be interpreted as a lack of faith when the prophet proclaims: “Why do you let me see ruin; why must I look at misery?” In response the Lord tells the prophet, as he told other prophets like Ezekiel and Isaiah, to write down the vision, a vision of fulfillment in times to come.
Mother Teresa wrote down her vision not so much in words as in a life of discipleship. She followed Jesus all the way to and through the cross. She knew the night of Gethsemane and the anguish of crucifixion. The color of holiness shined through her life.
Questions for reflection
1. How do you guard the rich deposit of faith?
2. What is the relationship between faith and charity?
3. How has God increased your faith over the years?
Bishop Morneau is the auxiliary bishop of the Green Bay Diocese and pastor of Resurrection Parish in Allouez.