There has never been a time when faith was not needed.  In our contemporary world the need of faith is acute because seductive alternatives to faith are pervasive.  One such alternative is envisioning fullness of life without any reference to God.  It is a self-sufficient humanism that sees no need of God and ridicules faith.

Jesus’ message is paradoxical.  It involves facts or truths that do not seem to go together. There is a saying of Jesus that sums up the paradoxical nature of his message.  “He who loses his life for my sake will find it.”

The idea of entering life through dying is surely paradoxical.  It confronts any would-be follower of Jesus with an immense challenge.  The challenge is to adapt an entirely new point of view, to accept a whole new set of values.  We are asked to believe that in dying to self we gain a new, higher life.

How do we accept that challenge?  It seems the only adequate response is faith.   Only in the light of faith can we accept Jesus and his message.  But to turn on a light is to create shadows.  Even with the light of faith there are things we do not see, do not understand.

In the final analysis the act of faith is just that, an act of faith; not an act of knowing through rational analysis or argument.  To make an act of faith is to look at the world through what Iraneus would call “grace healed eyes.”  It would be accurate to speak of “a leap of faith.”

The spiritual writer de Caussade offered this description of the life of faith.  “It is nothing else than a perpetual pursuit of God through everything that disguises, disfigures, destroys and, if we may use the word annihilates him.”

The Letter to the Hebrews tells us: “faith is confident assurance concerning things we hope for and conviction about things we cannot see.”  Scripture scholars say this is not presented as a formal definition of faith. It does, however, provide valuable insight into the dynamic nature of faith.

Often enough we feel we would like our faith to be stronger.  We are, however, powerless to make it so through our own efforts.  It is a gift and the best we can do is strive to be more open to that gift and to make our own the prayer of the father of the boy possessed by an evil spirit: “I believe.  Help my unbelief.”