‘The sheep that belong to me listen to my voice;
I know them and they follow me.
I give them eternal life;
they will never be lost
and no one will ever steal them from me.
The Father who gave them to me is greater than anyone,
and no one can steal from the Father.
The Father and I are one.’
It was at Antioch that the disciples were first called Christians.
* * *
Today I read and shared two different articles (thanks to friends who posted them on facebook). The first described a minister’s ‘loss of faith.’ The second commemorated the 79th anniversary of the founding of the Catholic Worker Movement. I posted them consecutively on my wall, as the two items seemed to me to be related, and also to offer an example of the way in which the profession of the faith and the practice of the faith sometimes miss each other. The abstract questions about God, the puzzle of evil, and the like do not admit of answers. The best ‘answer’ I can find to the philosophical problems is not a philosophical one: it is Dorothy Day and countless examples of faithfulness like hers. We may not grasp God–as the despair of the former minister shows–but we do see Jesus. He continues to bring light and life through the work of his disciples.
I know that doesn’t convince those who doubt. I have taught enough seminary students with these same questions (even in the relatively few years I have been teaching) to know that doesn’t ‘answer’ the question. There was a time when I would have interpreted the spiritual journey of the former minister as a ‘loss of faith.’ But I don’t think of faith as something to be lost: faith (as I commented on the original post) is something the church holds, and God gives. For that reason, and that reason only, I live in the hope that I ‘will never be lost’–not because I am strong enough to hold onto God. Certainly not. It is because God is strong enough to hold onto me.