- The Washington Times - Monday, April 3, 2006

These are excerpts from the readings yesterday at St. Augustine Roman Catholic Church in Northwest and the homily by the Rev. Patrick A. Smith.

A reading from the Holy Gospel according to St. John (12:20-26). “Some Greeks who had come to worship at the Passover Feast came to Philip, who was from Bethsaida in Galilee, and asked him, ‘Sir, we would like to see Jesus.’ Philip went and told Andrew; then Andrew and Philip went and told Jesus. Jesus answered them:

“The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Amen, amen, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit. Whoever loves his life loses it, and whoever hates his life in this world will preserve it for eternal life. Whoever serves me must follow me, and where I am, there also will my servant be. The Father will honor whoever serves me.”

Do you believe?

Don’t answer the question too quickly. It is, after all, the most fundamental question that everything else hinges upon. Scripture says that, without faith, it is impossible to please God (Hebrews 11:6).

Think about it: Pleasing God will many times mean following the road less traveled, climbing the hill most avoided, facing the fears others give in to, and confronting the demons many refuse to acknowledge.

Without faith, why would any of us persevere in the face of opposition or refuse to give in to temptation? Why would we do the right thing when the wrong thing may be handsomely rewarded? The outlook of the faithless is: “Get rich or die trying.” The biblical counterresponse is: “What will it profit a man to gain the whole world and forfeit his life (Matthew 16:26)?”

With faith, Martha and Mary could have reason to hope, even though their brother had been dead for the better part of a week. With faith, instead of seeing the Crucifixion as a dismal failure, Christ’s followers recognize it as the grain of wheat that “falls to the earth and dies” in order to “produce much fruit.”

Are you a believer? If you are, then you know that true faith is courageous, is not afraid to take a stand for what is right.

It is weather-resistant — believes in the sun, even when it is not shining.

It is specific — rejects the doctrine-doesn’t-matter worldview.

It is required — like American Express, you can’t afford to leave home without it.

Finally, faith is a gift that should be cherished, nurtured, defended and shared. Because with faith, you will spend far less prayer time telling God how big your problems are and more time telling your problems how big your God is.

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