‘Leaping Our Faith’By Fr. Francis Ongkingco
Cebu Daily News
(Year of Faith Series)
Have you ever witnessed a real flea circus or seen pictures of it? Did you ever wonder how in the world it occurred to anyone to think of mounting a spectacle out of such detestable insects? And did you ever imagine how these little high jumping blood suckers are trained to perform tricks?
I was amazed to read how people enterprising enough –perhaps, with a lot of time at hand– train these tiny vile creatures with something as ordinary as a shoebox. Of course a shoebox alone isn’t enough to do the trick, but at least it limits their capacity to jump way out of control. So what’s the secret?
When they continuously try to jump out, they discover the discomfort of hitting their stubborn heads on the cover. Little by little, they adjust themselves to jump only high enough to avoid hitting the lid. The trainer then lowers the cover each time until the fleas barely jump. Once this is achieved, the circus training can now begin.
I believe this is a very appropriate anecdote to begin a series about how to rediscover and relive the gift of our faith and making it operative. This is a wonderful adventure because this theological virtue –a grace which can only come from God– is the ‘door’ that opens the person to a fantastic reality called the supernatural life.
Moreover, as Saint Thérèse of Lisieux once said, “Only on this earth can we live by faith.” Thus, we have to strive to make the most out of it, for it is only in this life that we can “merit and work efficaciously for the salvation of humanity. Let us make the most of our opportunity.” (G. Courtios, Before His Face, vol. 2)
Unfortunately, many Christians –including you and myself– can live our faith like fleas. We end up ‘conditioning’ ourselves to jump lower each time. Perhaps, we lose our ‘supernatural perspectives’ offered to us by God because of our activism or the immoderate concern for temporal affairs.
With the start of the Year of Faith last 11th of October, we are given very concrete means to once again leap our faith. When we truly engage the gift of our faith, we will discover that we can in fact do more things for God and others. Nothing is insignificant for a faith-filled man or woman, because everything he does will now be permeated by the presence and fruitfulness of Christ.
* * *
Pope Benedict XVI, in his Apostolic Letter Porta Fidei, says, “We cannot accept that salt should become tasteless or the light be kept hidden. (…) We must rediscover a taste for feeding ourselves on the word of God, faithfully handed down by the Church, and on the bread of life, offered as sustenance for his disciples. Indeed, the teachings of Jesus resound in our day with the same power: ‘Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life. (Jn 6:27)’”
Can there be anything more astounding or awesome than this invitation to eternal life? Isn’t it intriguingly attractive that the invitation to receive the faith is like receiving a key to enter Heaven? Furthermore, how extraordinarily compelling it becomes when the very key is itself the door that opens to eternal life now while we live here on earth? These wonderful considerations have their starting point in our baptism.
At the beginning of the Holy Father’s letter we read: “The door of faith (Acts 14:27) is always open for us, ushering us into the life of communion with God and offering entry into his Church. (…) To enter through that door is to set out on a journey that lasts a lifetime. It begins with baptism (cf. Rom 6:4), through which we can address God as Father, and it ends with the passage through death to eternal life, fruit of the resurrection of the Lord Jesus, whose will it was, by the gift of the Holy Spirit, to draw those who believe in him into his own glory (cf. Jn 17:22).”
Therefore it is with more reason that we ought to rediscover the beauty of the gift of our baptism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches: “Holy Baptism is the basis of the whole Christian life, the gateway to life in the Spirit (vitae spiritualis ianua), and the door which gives access to the other sacraments. Through Baptism we are freed from sin and reborn as sons of God; we become members of Christ, are incorporated into the Church and made sharers in her mission: ‘Baptism is the sacrament of regeneration through water in the word. (no. 1213)’”
* * *
What are some concrete ways to be grateful for the gift of our baptism and to leap with the graces that come with it?
• know and remember the day and date of your Baptism, and celebrate it with prayer and thanksgiving frequently;
• reawaken your baptismal sentiments when you go to Holy Mass and especially to Confession where sins are forgiven;
• constantly and gratefully keep in mind the priest who administered baptism to you;
• pray for your parents and godparents who were there on your behalf;
• review our commitments (Baptismal vows) and foster them constantly;
• pray and offer sacrifices for those who were baptized but have left the faith;
• say a daily prayer or offer some minutes of your work for those who have died without having received this wonderful gift, especially those who died due to abortion.
* * *
We close with an inspiring consideration of St. Gregory of Nazianzus about Baptism: “God’s most beautiful and magnificent gift…. We call it gift, grace, anointing, enlightenment, garment of immortality, bath of rebirth, seal, and most precious gift. It is called gift because it is conferred on those who bring nothing of their own; grace since it is given even to the guilty; Baptism because sin is buried in the water; anointing for it is priestly and royal as are those who are anointed; enlightenment because it radiates light; clothing since it veils our shame; bath because it washes; and seal as it is our guard and the sign of God’s Lordship. (Oratio 40, 3-4: PG 36, 316C)”