“Faith” is a Noun and a Verb

Monday, October 7th, 2019

The Lord replied, “If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you.’”

Luke 17: 5-10

Faith is a gracious gift from God. It can neither be earned nor bought,but only responded to with acts of love and service.

I used to think that the word ‘faith’ was a noun, but I have come to understand that faith is both a noun and a verb. Faith is something that we proclaim together as a community here at Mass. But faith doesn’t come alive until we carry it out the church door and live it day after day in the world.

Faith was the guiding principle of the early Christian communities. It still is today in 2019 here in Tenafly. As disciples of Jesus, we are called to carry the faith that we profess into the streets; and to live it by being the hands and the feet and the voice of Christ for a world that is hurting.

The Second Vatican Council in the 1960s reminded Catholics that whatever we do here in liturgy must “ritualize a lived reality.” The bread and wine becoming the real Presence of Christ on this altar takes on added meaning when that loving Presence is made manifest in the world ─especially to those most suffering and in need.It is there in the world that our faith is transformed from a noun into a verb. It is there in the world that our faith is made active through us, and with us, and in us, just as salvation is active through Him, with Him, and in Him.

One of the great Catholic theologians of our time, Jesuit Father Karl Rahner, speaks of ‘the three tables of the liturgy’:the table of the Word, the table of the Eucharist, and the table of the World. We come together as a community here at Mass, to be nourished with the Lord’s word, and with his body and blood, so that we might in turn go out into the streets, the work places and everywhere and bring that nourishment to the world.

Sister Mary Collins, a contemporary theologian, tells us about the ‘theology of the door’. She calls us to come to terms with the church door ─a door that swings both ways between the altar and the world. Our faith doesn’t stop with the ‘dismissal’ at the end of Mass; it goes on from there. It comes alive when we go out into the world and become Eucharist for others.

Faith can indeed move mountains; it can even uproot mulberry trees. But it first needs to be transformed from a noun into a verb. As we leave Church today, as we pass through these doors, let us be mindful that we are moving from the table of the Eucharist to the table of the World ─ a world where Jesus asks each of us to be his hands and his feet and his voice; a world where we are called to love and serve the Lord through one another.



Readers of this blog might enjoy these books by Deacon Lex. Both are available on Amazon.com:

Just to Follow My Friend: Experiencing God’s Presence in Everyday Life


The Gospel of You, The Gospel of Me: Making Christ Present in Everyday Life


Synchronicity as the Work of the Holy Spirit: Jungian Insights for Spiritual Direction and Pastoral Ministry


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