A Living Faith Is A Changing Faith
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
Second Sunday of Lent
Genesis22:1-2, 9, 10-13, 15-18
The story of God asking Abraham to kill his son, Isaac, is repugnant to most of us.
To the Jews who told this story, however, it was a step forward. Its original audience knew of gods who demanded the life of a family’s firstborn in return for great favors. For them the headline was that their God did not want children sacrificed. That was the liberating message. Everything else was detail.
Over the ages the Jews have deepened their understanding of their relationship with God. It didn’t happen easily. It never does in a revelation-based religion because somewhere the words of prior understandings are written and they can’t be simply ignored or tossed cavalierly aside. To do so throws a religion into chaos.
Change in a revealed religion can only come when its members realize that to remain true to their foundational relationship with God and one another they must modify their understanding of both God and themselves. They must admit that they have not yet fully understood their faith. Such an admission tests the strength of a faith. It’s always difficult.
A living faith is vibrant, always flexing and stretching. As all who have been in intimate relationships know, those interactions change and adapt constantly. Only the dullest of people would say to a friend “I totally understand you; I always know how to respond to you”. We will never fully understand our faith because faith is a relationship between individuals, a community and God. It changes.
It would be nice if we could take faith for granted but we can’t. We have to wrestle with it, not simply to believe this or that but to understand just what it is that we need to believe. Faith grows by continually reflecting on our experience of living and believing to make sure that each reflects the other. That’s rarely easy; it’s rarely comfortable. Still, we owe that growth to ourselves and to the world with whom we promise to share the faith.