adult faith

Apr 11, 2021

Perhaps the tree above is a good image for the journey we have shared together in these weeks, a journey towards maturity of faith, nurturing our roots, looking beneath the surface, feeding our inner life, in order that the self that is visible above the surface might be authentic, joyful and peaceful, a witness to the abundant life available to the one who lives in relationship with Jesus Christ.

We meet the apostle Thomas in today’s gospel and I have always felt an affinity with him.

He is often referred to as the “doubter” since he was not present when the risen Jesus first appeared to the other disciples, and refused to accept the resurrection news as fact simply on the basis of his friends’ testimony.

It was all very well for those others; they had already encountered the risen Jesus personally. They had seen Jesus’ gaze of love with their own eyes, felt his mercy and heard him speak words of consolation with their own ears. They had received first-hand experience of the risen Jesus. In fact all Thomas was asking for (to experience the risen Jesus himself) was the same experience as the other apostles already had.

Thomas was not doubting as much as seeking; he was expressing the desire of one who truly yearns for adult faith. Healthy doubt leads to robust questioning and searching. It is this process that develops faith that is rooted in God and rooted in reality.

Children believe things simply because the adults they trust teach them. But as a child grows beyond toddler-like naivety into adolescence, healthy questioning becomes par for their course. In this process, the child becomes the adult who believes not simply because of the word and experience of others, but because they now know for themselves.

Too often Christians who grow to maturity in so many other aspects of life remain as children in matters of faith. Our motivations, shame, and guilt might have more to do with childhood fears of punishment and desire for earthly rewards than with a mature and adult relationship with Jesus Christ. Such “faith” is vulnerable to every negative influence.

It is important to note that many young children and teenagers do have such an adult faith since their awareness of the presence of Jesus is the vivid and lively relationship at the centre of their daily lives. It is often more difficult for older people to let go of the attachments that the world presents as essential, and to relax into the loving embrace of Jesus.

While it is true that we are the children of God, we often imagine ourselves in this relationship as pre-schoolers. It is more helpful to think of ourselves as the adult children of God. Before my parents’ death they were often asked what their children were doing now. They did not begin their response by explaining that we were now in our 30’s and 40’s! Yes we were still their children, but we were adults, and that nuancing makes a huge difference.

Thomas gives us the method for moving from childhood faith, to the “child-like” faith of an adult:

  • Don’t be shy about doubt. We all doubt at times. There is no need to live in a pretence of belief. Talk to a good friend or seek wise spiritual counsel.
  • Engage in conversation with Jesus. You might begin “I don’t even know if you are there, or if you exist, but if you can hear me then help…”
  • When you do sense (perhaps not by touching as Thomas but our sense is not limited to five physical awarenesses) that Jesus may be present, do not hesitate to speak to him as your God, with awe and humility. Thomas in this moment was the first to profess “My Lord and My God”.

Some Housekeeping:

  • The invites will continue to FFF gatherings in cafes and bars. As you suggest a time and place I will add these to the webpage and to the FFF Facebook page at this link.  If you “like” the FB page you will receive the notifications.  Yes the “John” at the Dowse in Lower Hutt today is me!
  • Thank you to those who have given financial support to FFF over the past month. More than 150 people have contributed with a number choosing to make regular contributions. Your gift is already enabling FFF to develop and grow, with more diversity of content, options, podcasts, videos, and more reliable technology to support the website content. If you would like to become a financial supporter of this FFF mission click at this link
  • As we conclude this Lenten / Easter week series of daily emails we offer a couple of different options for receiving emails: Update your preferences at this link.
    • If you do nothing you will hear from me again once a month with a FFF update, and you will be ready-to-go for the daily emails again in Advent. (That’s the Lent / Advent option)
    • You can choose to receive regular emails. These will not be daily but perhaps two or three posts by email each week.
    • We are working on a separate page for the Lectio Divina audio. Lectio has remained popular for the weeks of Lent and will continue.
    • Note you will be also offered the option of unsubscribing from all emails as you go through this process. If you choose this “unsubscribe”option you will not hear from FFF again, even in Advent.
    • Remember you can always check the website directly by searching Food For Faith in your web browser or by typing the website address www.foodforfaith.org.nz.  Another option is to save the FFF homepage to your homescreen on phone or tablet so you can visit with a quick screen tap.
  • And last note, at the very bottom of this page an invitation to a Men’s Retreat. Thanks for forwarding this invite to anyone who might be interested.

LECTIO DIVINA FOR DIVINE MERCY SUNDAY 

11 Comments

  1. Your reflections have been a blessing thank you

    Reply
  2. Thankyou Fr John for the privilege of being able to share your Spirit-inspired reflections. They have provided me with much food for thought, encouragement and joy. May God continue to bless you abundantly in this very important outreach Mission. Keen to hear more. Noreen

    Reply
  3. Yes, indeed, now that I live an adult faith I’m faithfully disbelieving many of the “truths”I swallowed wholeheartedly just because I was told or memorized the catechism answers!
    Now I’m “proof seeking” maybe just like Thomas, “show me “. It’s an interesting journey right now, with ongoing searching, yes I’ll talk to Jesus and pray, ask for deeper understanding, more clarity.
    Thanks for the challenges throughout Lent “disturbing the faith”to enable growth.
    Talking to other fff friends the suggestion was ‘I wonder if Fr. John would consider a thirty day retreat online’ over to you! Blessings

    Reply
  4. Dear Fr John

    Thank you so much for leading us through this journey of maturity in faith. During the last many weeks, I have woken up eagerly, looking so much forward to your inspiring messages and reflections. I will miss this as we reach an end of a journey but I am grateful that you will be sending us emails once or twice a week as an option.

    Thank you Fr John and God bless you.
    Muna

    Reply
  5. Thanks john. Yes less the doubting Thomas and more of the inquiring Thomas. As you noted it was easy for the disciples who had seen Jesus to be full of assurance. My faith journey is one of constant questioning and bounces between doubt and assurance but leavened by those fragment moments deep inside my being where the love of God is so tangibly real. Thank you for your guidance on this Lenten Easter journey

    Reply
  6. Thank you again John,
    You have certainly stirred up a hunger for many of us to seek more! I love the idea of an online retreat.. if you had the time?
    Also I personally am so pleased that the Lectio Divina will continue as I find this so helpful in my prayer.. I tend to ramble on and get lost when I am trying to do it alone!!
    Looking forward to the emails
    God bless you and the work you are doing

    Reply
  7. Thank you so much Father John When one lives alone it is wonderful to wake in the mornings to know that you will be there to listen to and it helps to get the wheels moving for the day. It is also very beneficial to read others comments and think yes I agree or no I do not., and it is okay to have an opinion.

    Reply
  8. Thank you Father John for the priceless gift of enriching my Lenten journey and helping me to deepen my faith. God bless.

    Reply
  9. Thank you so much Father John. This has been one way that I can focus on Jesus and faith in my life where the necessary schedule means I can’t often make regular attendance at physical events. It has been so valuable. Thank you.
    Regards
    Martha

    Reply
  10. Hello Fr John,
    I have appreciated your input over the Lenten and Easter season.
    While adding a friend on your subscribing list a few weeks ago I inadvertently unsubscribed myself
    I have tried to resubscribe but each time I’ve been turned down and told to try later which I have done with no avail.
    I would like to be reinstated and go on your list for the once a month FFF option please Every Blessing as you continue to expand this ministry.
    Enjoy both your coffee and the men’s Retreat coming up
    Peace Coral

    Reply
  11. Thanks for all the F.F.F. Nourishment over the past 7 weeks John. Always such a support
    and thought provoking throughout each day when things are difficult and challenging.
    Great people are getting together in Cafes ,who knows where that will go ,an inspired idea .to fulfill a need .until the next posts Fleur.

    Reply

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