FOR 2019: REVIVE YOUR FAITH IN OTHERS
Michael E. Engh, S.J.
As we approach the New Year, a time for resolutions, I offer you one challenge to consider: Reinvest in your faith in humanity.
When it comes to investing in self, there are many options: health (mental, physical, and emotional), finances, spirituality, relationships—but where do we begin when our faith feels depleted?
For most undertakings, there are clear paths to success: set a workout plan, eat healthy and nutritious food, budget better, spend quality time together; but, how do you reinvest in faith, specifically faith in humanity?
Faith is vast and often underexplored. It is complex. It takes practice. Like any other undertaking, it is important to go back to basics and revisit the fundamentals. As we explore the numerous aspects of faith, we allow for a more elaborate knowledge of ourselves and our world.
To start at the beginning, consider the relational aspect of faith: we speak as having “faith in” something or someone. But where do we learn this? As children, we practice it with our siblings and friends. We are taught the importance of sharing. At first, we do this because we are told it is the right thing to do—we do it out of obligation.
As we grow older, we continue to share with our loved ones; but, our motivation changes from one of obligation to one based in our genuine concern and love for the individuals we call family. This relational aspect of faith in another human being unites two people in marriage, bonds parent and child, cements brother and sister. We learn to love and accept those we have faith in, warts and all. We have faith in our brothers and sisters because we have faith in our shared humanistic values.
Is it possible that we can train ourselves to have faith in those who are outside of our family or friend groups? What about our enemies?
With our kin, we do not simply base our faith in reciprocity; we learn to forgive and accept them because we see them as our flesh and blood. We persist in our efforts to teach them when they go astray; we love them, even if this love is strained or even lost at times.
The type of unconditional love for all of humankind is a love for life. It is agreeing that life is sacred. It is answering Jesus’ call to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven” and recognizing that “He causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).
If we can accept Jesus’ reaffirmation that we are all the children of God, then we must also accept that our relation to each other is as brothers and sisters.
This New Year, do not shy away from the effort and practice it takes to learn to share with strangers or enemies. I wish you the courage to revive your faith in humanity by consciously working to see all people as your brothers and sisters.
Michael E. Engh, S.J.