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The Essence of Faith
Train to Busan Poster
27th Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year C
“Train to Busan” starring Gong Yoo (Coffee Prince), as Seok-Woo – a divorced workaholic who lives with his mother and his daughter whom he barely spends time with. To make up with his daughter after buying her a Nintendo Wii, which she already has (gifted by himself on “Children’s Day”), he granted her daughter’s birthday wish to see her mother in Busan. Other than the horrifying zombie theme of the movie, I find it interesting that this movie tackles to a certain degree some aspects of faith similar to what our readings this Sunday reecho and how it works in our lives. A very existential question could be posed on this regard, “When all else fails, to whom shall we go? To whom shall we hold on to?” This is a question which almost everyone of us, if not all, ask each day of our lives. Where is God when things get rough and becomes hopeless? One must know that faith is not just passive reliance but a deeper trust which entails not only believing but doing as it seeks understanding. It is to hold on and NOT to let go of God no matter what happens acknowledging His unfailing love. In fact, faith is a proactive response to such love.
This Sunday, let me point Three Dimensions of Faith expressed in our readings:
FIRST READING: FAITH as TRUSTING in God. This entails a life-long commitment to God as He is faithful to His chosen people as of old and the present generation. At times, we remember God only in the worse and difficult times of our lives and so we pray to Him. But He asks the same trust, commitment and faithfulness from us even in the most glorious moments of our lives. My professor in Theology once told our class, “All of us are entitled to at least one glorious moment.” He was saying that nobody is being denied of glorious/happy moments in life. As we have been gifted, all the more reason that we have to trust in God, who forever will remain faithful to His promises.
On the other hand, in times of defeat and trying moments, God assures us that faith is power and through it we can derive our strength. Just as He assures the prophet Habbakuk, stronger faith enables us to accept the adversities and the trials of life. He said to the prophet, “The rash one has no integrity; but the just one, because of his faith, shall live.” (Habbakuk 2:4) In the movie, Seok-Woo, lives by the dictum, “At a time like this, only watch out for yourself.” But he realized that it was not the dictum to live by during that time considering the presence of his daughter and the lives of some passengers who were relying on him and his “team.” The same for us Catholics, we cannot live solely watching for ourselves, we have to hold on to God both in good and bad times.
SECOND READING: FAITH as ACCEPTANCE of the PERSON that is JESUS. Paul, in his Second Letter to Timothy, stresses the need for a living faith in, and loyalty to, Christ’s teachings handed down to us by the Church. Hence, Faith is belief in, and acceptance of, revealed truths based on the authority and veracity of God, and Hope is trust in God. We grow in Faith as we act in Faith. A sincere Christian can find many ways to help to make Christ known to his neighbor. For instance, a simple word of assurance, a charitable gesture, an unselfish interest in a neighbor’s troubles can do more good than a series of sermons given by some renowned theologian.
A little boy wanted $100.00 very badly and his mother told him to pray to God with faith. He prayed and prayed for two weeks, but nothing turned up. Then he decided perhaps he should write God a letter requesting the $100.00. When the postal authorities received the letter addressed to God, they opened it up and decided to send it to the President. The President was so impressed and touched that he instructed his secretary to send the little boy a check for $5.00. He thought that this would appear to be a lot of money to a little boy. The little boy was delighted with the $5.00 and sat down to write a thank-you letter to God, which ran as follows: “Dear God: Thank you very much for the money. I noticed that you had to send it through Washington. Dad said that as usual, they deducted $95.00 for themselves in the name of “Homeland Security” to save our country from terrorists.”
Well, what can I say? The little boy has faith in the God, but the President didn’t have so much faith in the little boy.
GOSPEL READING: FAITH as CONFIDENCE in God’s power. Jesus tells and assures His apostles that faith is sharing in the power of God and so, even in little amount, it can do wonders and can change people’s lives. We must, therefore cultivate our Faith through prayer, study of Scriptures, participation in the Holy Mass (‘the mystery of faith”) and leading a well-disciplined spiritual life.
Many years ago a famous shoe company sent one of its salespeople to a far away country to start a business. After a few months he sent back the message: "I am coming home. Nobody wears shoes here." The same company sent another sales person to the same backward area. After a few months she sent this message to the home office: "Send more order forms! Nobody wears shoes here! Hence I can sell more shoes.” The second salesperson saw the opportunity in her situation - not the difficulty. She succeeded because she had faith in her product, faith in the people and faith in her ability to canvass customers.
Today's readings tell us that if we have a little Faith - even the smallest amount, in God's power, which He is glad to share with us, then we are on the right track.
Now, did Seok-Woo and his daughter reach Busan? Was he able to fulfill his birthday gift to his daughter to see her mom? Well, I’m not one to be a spoiler. But I guess, the best question to ask whether we’ve watched the movie or not is, “Did he simply let go of his promise or did he hold on to something more? The same question we have to ask ourselves this Sunday, “Should we let go?”
In good times and in bad, should we let go?
In confusion, doubt and despair, should we let go?
In the midst of conflicts and misunderstanding, should we let go?
In worries and anxieties, should we let go?
Jesus said in the Gospel, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, 'Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.” Of course, it has to start from something small … don’t let go … let God!
Addendum: The month of October is dedicated to Our Lady of the Holy Rosary. Mary has always been a true model of Faith as she expressed in her fiat, "Let it be done unto me according to your word." In faith and total surrender to God, she dedicated her entire life believing and living the Gospel. Let us take quality family time each day of this month to at least pray the Holy Rosary for the intention of peace in our land and end to abortion and disrespect for life.