William of Saint-Thierry: Deeper

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“It has often thrown him into fire or water to kill him. But if you can do anything, take pity on us and help us.” “‘If you can’?” said Jesus. “Everything is possible for one who believes.” Immediately the boy’s father exclaimed, “I do believe; help me overcome my unbelief!” Mark 9:22-24

“When in your life of faith you are confronted with the deeper mysteries it is natural to become a little frightened. When this happens, take heart, faithful Christian. Do not raise objections, but ask with loving submission, “How can these things be?” Let your question be a prayer, and expression of love and self-surrender to God.”

William of Saint-Thierry (1085-1148) in Mirror of Faith as recounted Milton Walsh in Witness of the Saints: Patristic Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2012) 185.

Notice how Jesus meets the boy’s father in today’s Scripture with grace. And yet, see also how He challenges Him to grow. Then look at the humble response of the boy’s father. He believes but acknowledges that He needs help with his unbelief.

I think Jesus meets us this same way related to generosity. He wants us to realize that everything is possible if we believe. And also, He stands ready to help us in our areas of unbelief. But only if we ask Him. To live generously requires us to grow deeper in faith.

For another example of a question with loving submission, see Luke 1:34. Here the angel has told Mary that she will conceive a son. Consider her reply: “How will this be,” Mary asked the angel, “since I am a virgin?” 

Then we she receives the angel’s gracious explanation she replies Luke 1:38 with self-surrender to God: “I am the Lord’s servant,” Mary answered. “May it happen to me according to your word.” Then the angel left her.

In what areas do you lack faith and need help in your unbelief? Form at least one question in loving submission. Ask Him to help you. The potential gain here is limitless. Don’t let fear hold you back from going deeper.