Faith for Faith’s Sake
Fr. Simon Esshaki
We all probably know people who do not take their faith seriously. It is possible that if you are reading now, you have either gone through a time where you were weak in faith, or are going through one now. It could be because the faith seems like it is too much of a routine – the weekly Mass, daily prayers, fasting, etc. Sometimes we lose the meaning of the faith because it gets diluted by the shallowness of our fallen humanity and of this world, and we sometimes get affected by that.
An example of this, and one of the great causes of a lack of faith, is when people practice it mainly to be seen by others. If all we want (or if the main thing we want) is to impress others and make of ourselves a good image, then our faith will be shallow; it will not be real. It is very challenging to have a real, deep faith because we are physical creatures living in this world. We see other people all around us and want to be thought well of by them. However, we know that if our main motivation is to have worldly praise, then we will fail when it comes to living the faith truly and whole-heartedly.
In the Gospel for this Sunday, the third of Lent, Jesus encountered a group of the elders of the people who wanted to test him. They asked him, “By what authority are you doing these things, and who gave you this authority?” (Matthew 21:23). He then responded by challenging their desire for worldly praise and telling them, “I will also ask you one question; if you tell me the answer, then I will also tell you by what authority I do these things. Did the baptism of John come from heaven, or was it of human origin?” (Matthew 21:24-25)
The elders then had a big dilemma when it came to answering Jesus’ question: “If we say, ‘From heaven,’ he will say to us, ‘Why then did you not believe him?’ But if we say, ‘Of human origin,’ we are afraid of the crowd; for all regard John as a prophet” (Matthew 21:25-26).
Notice how these men only gave themselves two options, and both options had to do with protecting their reputation. They did not ask themselves if John’s baptism was, in fact, from heaven; they did not care about that. They only cared about how they were going to be perceived by others, not about the truth itself. It shows that their faith was shallow and not a real, deep faith.
How does one avoid this problem that the elders fell into, and have a real, genuine faith? By seeking faith for faith’s sake. Seek it to truly understand it, so that by understanding more, you will believe more. Seek Jesus for himself, and not for any other purpose. He is there waiting for all of us, desiring to give us his grace so that we can walk with him. The walk with the Lord is challenging, but rewarding.
Christ wants us to persevere in our faith so that we can grow all the more closer to him. In a world where many people seek only the praise of others, let us always seek the praise of God, and allow him to dwell in our hearts truly, so that he can make us stronger believers in him.