We always need faith and the longer we live the greater our need becomes.  I used to naively think that as one got older faith would become more solid, easier after all those years of practice. The truth is, as our experience of life broadens, we learn how impenetrable human life is.  We come to realize more and more the extent of evil in the world.  We experience the passive diminishments of age.  We become more and more conscious of our limitations in dealing with the difficulties that come into our lives.  In other words, any youthful illusions of invulnerability having been shattered, we feel a greater need of faith.

We speak of a life of faith.  That suggests faith is not so much an event as a process.  Like any life, it is subject to change.  We alternately experience a strengthening and a weakening of our faith. The father of the boy in the gospel who was possessed understood that.  When Jesus told him “everything is possible for anyone who has faith’” the father replied: “Lord, I believe.  Help my unbelief.”

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “Faith is confident assurance concerning what we hope for, and conviction about things we do not see.”  Another helpful description of faith is: Faith is not feeling sure but abiding by conviction, Faith does not bring final clarity on this earth.  It does not eliminate all difficulties.  It does not dull pain we might be experiencing.  It not a crutch, enabling us to walk straighter.  When all else is unclear faith enables us to repeat the prayer of Jesus on  the cross: Into your hands I commend my spirit.”

Often when we reflect on our faith we think it should be stronger.  We may try to gener-ate its power from within ourselves.  That is a mistake.  It doesn’t work that way. It is easy to forget that faith is a gift.  We don’t; produce it for ourselves and we can’t make it grow by ourselves. Faith can only grow as we reach out, open ourselves to the Lord and his word.
Most of us would be spared a lot of aggravation, uncertainly, wasted effort, and mental anguish if we simply reminded ourselves that faith is a pure gift.  We give nothing to Christ by coming to him in faith.  In fact, we can only come to him in faith through grace.  We are invited to sit down at the feast.  We haven’t earned the invitation.  It is completely gratuitous and all that is required is our acceptance.