One recent Friday morning, I was driving back to Lourdes after having said Mass at a convent. I came to an intersection and was waiting to turn right. I was delayed in making the turn because there was a person crossing in front of me and the person was crossing slowly indeed. At some point, the car behind me honked. I was mad at the person crossing the street so slowly and now mad at the person in the car behind me. And so I made a rude “gesture” with my hand to show my displeasure. So much for just having said Mass!
Such episodes are relatively common in a big city like Toronto. But I must admit that my initial delight of paying back rudeness with rudeness began to disappear and to be replaced by disappointment in my self. And this feeling remained with me throughout the day.
I realized that there are many times, when the road gets even a little bumpy, that the thinness of my faith is brought to light. I don’t want to be a Christian only when it’s easy or convenient, rather I want to follow the Lord all the time. Our faith is not to be like the one I demonstrated, on the surface, but it is to be at the core of our being, it is to be written on our hearts.
In the Gospel from St. John, as Jesus is telling his disciples that “I am going to the Father,” he also reminds us that he will not leave us empty handed. He leaves us his peace and, through him, the Holy Spirit will be sent. It is hard to imagine that those who were hearing the Lord speak felt the joy he was saying they should feel with this news. I think the beginning of the passage holds the clue for us. Christ speaks that those who love him “will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” Keeping the Lord’s word, his teaching, is not only a question of obedience. It isn’t merely a matter of having sufficient strength of will to follow his commands. It is much more!
God is offering his life to you. By cooperating with God’s grace, through the Holy Spirit, keeping his word is receiving his life in our hearts. Our redemption, salvation and transformation is through making his life our own life. But this gift is not easy to accept. It is made one’s own by an almost unconscious movement of following our hearts. As one’s relationship with the Lord deepens, so too does one’s trust; we creak open the doors of our hearts. Our hearts are more opened because we feel his peace within us and we want it even more. We want God to make his permanent home within us. We want to know his love not some of the time, but all of the time. In this way, our faith is not thin or superficial, instead it is everything. And it is everything because it is who we are coming to be.