Faith feeds the desire for truth

Last week I had the privilege of preaching at the annual grade eight Mass held at St. Mary’s Cathedral in Fall River. Let me share with you the homily I preached at that Mass:

There are two thoughts that strike me in the readings today (Acts 8:26-40; Jn 6:44-51). First is that of discernment. Discernment is listening for the voice of the Lord calling out to us. Often when we hear or think of discernment we think of those thinking about priesthood or religious life. Certainly, that involves discernment. God calls each of us to a vocation in life, one where our gifts and talents are best used for service to God. A vocation how we will best experience God’s love and be drawn deeper into His mystery. God calls us to the vocation that will allow us to live in joy. For most of you, this will be within the vocation of Marriage. For others it will be as priests or religious.

This discernment takes years. It is beginning now and will continue in high school and beyond. It involves self-discovery, learning who you are and about your relationship with God and others. It is a process of coming to know and love God in a deeper way. It involves prayer, conversations with family and friends and lots of personal meditation and reflection.

Discernment also takes place within daily life. The Lord is constantly at work in the day-to-day of human activity. Listen again to Jesus’ words in today’s Gospel: “No one can come to Me unless the Father Who sent Me draw him.”

Each day the Lord is at work calling people to Himself. It comes in the form of longing and desire in our hearts. Desire to know truth, desire for goodness, beauty and love. Each day the Lord calls us to “close the deal,” to continue what He has started.

That is what happens in our first reading. God stirs up in the heart of the eunuch a longing and desire for God, for something more. This desire leads the eunuch to seek God and he begins reading the Scriptures, in this case Isaiah. The Lord sends Philip to “close the deal.” Philip works to help the eunuch understand Who God is, why we believe He is God and the difference that God makes in our lives.

This brings me to the second point of today’s readings: faith is not lived on our own. 

Aristotle said that human beings are social beings. Meaning, we need other people to flourish and to be successful. St. Matthew tells us “Where two or more are gathered, there am I in your midst” (Mt 18:20).

What does this mean? Well, think about it, when you are feeling down or discouraged, don’t you want others to lift your spirits, to encourage you, perhaps challenge you? That is how Christ reaches out to us, through others. We need others to come to a deeper understanding of the faith and to help us to hear the voice of the Lord calling out to us.

There are great challenges ahead of you. This is a very exciting time in your lives. Believe it or not, the next four years of high school are going to fly by. Remember that God is still at work in your life and the lives of those around you. He is calling you to a specific vocation and is calling you to action each day. Don’t go it alone. Remember you are never alone. The Church is always there, ready to love you and support you in all the challenges that come your way. Do not stop seeking to grow in love of God.

There is a myth you will encounter, perhaps in high school or in college. This myth states that faith and reason are opposed; that you will only be happy if you shed yourself of religion. There is nothing further from the truth. Faith feeds that desire we have for truth, love, beauty and goodness. It motivates us to learn. That is why Catholics have contributed so much to the sciences, literature, art, etc. 

Our Catholic faith helps us to be good students, the best husbands and wives, moms and dads, priests and religious, teachers, lawyers or accountants, etc., that we can be. Faith gives us the energy to live life joyfully and to work with one another to build up the Kingdom of God in our world.

Anchor columnist Father Frederici is pastor of St. John the Evangelist Parish in Pocasset and diocesan director of Campus Ministry and chaplain at UMass Dartmouth and Cape Cod Community College.

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