Faith Development

By Rev. Fr. Eva Chuma Nnamene

Our Catechism teaches us that faith is a supernatural gift from God. Gifts as gifts may not be given to everybody. Some gifts may be merited, while others are not. But even to those who merit them or not, gifts are not given equally. If faith is a gift from God, not everybody has it.

So, if you have faith, take it easy with those who have not, because it is a gift. And to you, even, it may be an unmerited gift. Some have more faith, while others have less faith. You may know a woman who is a primary school dropout because she left school before she finished primary four, but every Sunday she reads the Word of God to secondary school leavers and university degree holders. Can you imagine? Her educational qualification may be less, but her faith in God is great.

In any case, whether you have faith or not, or have more faith or less, as humans we all have a common basis for faith: God has given every human being some latent ground for faith formation. He gave us the ability to believe in Him, or when we do not want to believe in Him, to believe in something else - in exercise of our freedom. The word faith is from the Latin, fidere, which means to trust, to believe.

Oftentimes, faith is understood as belief in the unknown or that which is not seen: like believing in God who is unseen. However, having faith is like the movement from known to the unknown.

In true life, your family or society may have taught you not to trust strangers. This is because strangers, per se, are unknown. In fact, parents drum it unto the ears of their children not to accept candies or monies from strangers. But when such gifts come from known persons, the reverse is the case.

Knowing someone or having experienced him/her would make us trust him/her, or to have faith in him/her. This is true of our faith in God. The Pauline Epistle (Romans 10: 14-15) is a perfect image of faith development - from known to unknown. It is our parents, godparents, priests, religious, catechists, and other church agents of evangelization who tell us about God first. Because they heard about Him first, they are now sent to tell us about Him; and then we come to know Him and experience Him. And from that knowledge, God ceases to be a stranger to us. We come to believe in Him.

Every trust we repose on any person exposes us to the unknown possibilities of the person. Likewise, our faith in God exposes us to the unknown about Him, and hereafter. Because of what we know of Him at present, we truly can face the unknown and the uncertain. Some people wrongly interpret this uncertainty as absurdity of faith. With their wrong interpretation, they plunge faith to the camp of the frustrated, the downtrodden; and people of low class.

Such people may join Karl Marx to call religion the opium of the people. In the coming edition, we shall look at steps towards faith formation. As children of God, we are to be people of faith; because without faith we cannot please God (Heb. 11: 6).

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