“But when the Son of Man comes,
will he find faith on earth?”
The Church is a complex reality, as the Second Vatican Council stated. By this, it meant that the Church is both human and divine. It is both a concrete institution and a mystical communion. More than just the idea of weeds and wheat growing together, of sin and grace being present within (which also happens to be true), this unity of the human and divine finds its source in the person of Jesus, who likewise is both human and divine, uniting God with us irrevocably in one person. As such, the Church, in a sense, is God’s responsibility: begun, sustained, increased and culminated by his love. At the same time, it is our responsibility: in response to love and grace, we contribute to the mission and purpose of the Church by faith. Our good work is indispensable.
As a human reality, the Church is always in a precarious position. The answer to Jesus’s question above is a resounding maybe. When Jesus comes again, will he find faith on earth? Maybe. It depends on us, on our response to grace, on our good work. Not only has God made himself vulnerable to the possible rejection of his love by each person, his whole mission to share his love with the whole world is vulnerable to our participation. God depends on us. We are his hands and feet. I have heard it said that it would only take one generation for the Church to disappear from the face of the earth. It’s a bit theoretical, but if every Catholic made no effort to live, share, or pass on the faith, it would disappear from the earth. God works with us and through us. Our efforts in cooperation with God’s grace are essential. We need to live our faith, share our faith and pass on our faith for there to continue to be faith.
Live our faith. If you’re like me, you’re not perfect. Living our faith isn’t about pretending to be something we’re not. In fact, that is an obstacle to faith. It keeps us from really encountering Jesus and developing an authentic relationship with him. Living our faith is about growing in our relationship with Jesus as who we really are and who we can really become. It makes a difference in our lives and changes us. This may happen quickly or, more commonly, over time, but each day we should seek to become, as Matthew Kelly says, the best version of ourselves. We need to be open, engaged, and intentional about our faith. We cannot live our faith passively. At a minimum, we have to do something (prayer and practice) to grow.
Share our faith. When I was at the St. Boniface booth at the NuLu Festival, I saw a man holding up a sign with scripture on it and yelling at people. When we think of sharing our faith, this may be the image that comes to mind. That’s not it at all. Sharing our faith is about transparency and action. In conversations, relationships, acts of service, moments of need, and celebrations, or, in other words, in real life with real people, we simply don’t hide the role of faith in our lives. We let it shine through, we pray, we share, and we invite. It’s not about winning an argument or condemning anyone. It is letting our love be how God loves others. Sharing our faith is intentional, as well, but it’s not for show. We simply live our faith with authenticity and transparency.
Pass on our faith. Each of our families should be a school of faith. Within our homes and our community, we encounter the beauty, goodness, and truth of faith. In prayer, symbols, service, forgiveness, responsibilities, and traditions, the faith is practiced. Practice inculcates faith in our children. It passes on the faith. At a St. Patrick event for moms and children, they crafted prayer jars which included prayers written on popsicle sticks and placed in the jars. Two prayers from a six year old girl were shared with me: “God, help me to know my needs from my wants” and “God, you know what’s best for me.” We pass on our faith through practice. We live our faith with our families.
Will Jesus find faith on earth? I have great hope. Because that depends on us.