Today’s Gospel makes us feel uncomfortable, and we should be. When he talks about his baptism, he is talking about his death, which will establish the victory of God over sin and death. He uses stark, frightening language to make his point. He starts with fire, then adds the prospect of division of households and families, the tearing of our closest relationships.
“Now faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
People regularly want to talk with me about faith, be it their own faith or faith in general. Sometimes they aren’t quite sure even what it is. It seems a vague and elusive concept that they perceive others to have, but they cannot quite find. Let’s see if we can bring it into sharper focus by looking at two major aspects of faith. This isn’t about some abstract concept. It ties to the very essence of our nature, of your nature, of what is means to be human, to have been created by God in his image.
First, faith involves trust.
One cold, dark night Sherlock Holmes and Dr. Watson were hot on the trail of a suspect, camping on the moors in the north of England – Yorkshire to be precise. Staring at the stars above, Holmes asked, “What do you deduce, my dear doctor?”
Dr. Watson replied, “As to astronomy, that the cold has cleared the air to reveal billions of stars beyond count. As to astrology, that Leo has moved into the house of Libra. As to theology, that we are a very small and insignificant piece of this wondrous creation wrought by our dear God.”
Answered Holmes, “Dear God indeed man, if you do not see it!” “What?” said Watson. “Someone has stolen our tent!”