Faith Clings to What it Does not See, Feel or Experience

Pentecost 21 Wednesday

Luke 17:12-13

“And when Christ entered a village, there came toward him ten lepers who stood at a distance and raised their voice and said: Jesus, dear Master, have mercy on us!

The other aspect of faith is that it does not know or is assured in advance whether it is worthy of the grace and will be heard, as the doubters do who grasp for God and test him. Just as a blind man gropes for the wall, so these grope for God and would like to experience him first and be certain of him lest he escape them. Hebrews 11:1 says that faith is a certain confidence of the things hoped for and keeping in mind what is not seen. This means that faith clings to what it does not see, feel, or experience either in the body or in the soul. Rather, just as it has a good assumption toward God, it surrenders to it and bases its endeavors on it; it does not doubt that it will be just as it assumes–and then it indeed will be just so, and the feeling and experience will happen unsought and undesired precisely in and through such assuming or faith. For, tell me, who gave assurances to these lepers that Christ would hear them? Where is here the experience and feeling of his grace? Where is the perception, knowledge, or guarantee of his goodness? There is none here. What is here? A free surrender and joyful risk-taking based on his impalpable, untried, unknown goodness. There are no footprints that would let them experience what he would do; rather, they look to his bare goodness which creates in them this assuming and lets them take the risk that he would not leave them. Yet where did they get this realization of his goodness? For they had to know it beforehand, no matter how impalpable or imperceptible it may be. Without a doubt, they knew about it from the talk and the word in that they had heard much good about him, while they had not yet experienced it. For God’s goodness must be proclaimed through the Word and in this way we must build on it without trying it out and experiencing it first.

St. Louis ed., 11:1577-1577.

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