“When they had done everything the Law of the Lord required, they went back to Galilee, to their own town of Nazareth. Meanwhile the child grew to maturity, and he was filled with wisdom; and God’s favour was with him.” Luke 2:36-40
I was a young student of theology when I first heard of stages of faith. Until this point I think I had focussed on keeping the rules and saying my prayers, reminded by well-intentioned people of the risk of asking too many big questions, and being encouraged by some of them to simply believe because it was the safest way to protect fragile faith.
My discomfort with this was that I did have big questions, and the more I read and the more I learned and the more I prayed, the more and mightier were my questions.
Perhaps I was losing my faith?
To learn that my questioning was a sign that I was ready to grow from good religious practices a more personal robust and intimate relationship with Jesus Christ was a breath of great hope and excitement for me since there is little adventure or vitality present when relationship with God is reduced to religious practice.
And so my journey of faith deepened. I realised that while methods and programmes can be helpful for a beginner, one who is truly seeking Christ will become restless with religious routines and seek to be led in their own unique human experience and environment directly and uniquely by Jesus.
In this confusion the maturation of faith really begins.
Forty years ago an Italian priest spoke of this in a powerful address calling Catholics to grow up to full maturity. He said:
“Perhaps it is useful to remember that in the life of those He calls, God never lets anything happen unless it serves for the growth and maturation of those He has called.” The Long March to Maturity, Luigi Giussani
St. Thomas is a great hero of mature faith for me. I call him the first adult Christian. It’s not the feast of Thomas today – that’s early in July, but you might appreciate this three-minute reflection on experience and faith filmed a few years ago in the beautiful little church of Hanmer Springs: Thomas & Maturity.
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