Faith in what you do not know

Genisis 3:9-15, 20
After the man, Adam, had eaten of the tree, the LORD God called to the man and asked him, “Where are you?” He answered, “I heard you in the garden; but I was afraid, because I was naked, so I hid myself.”
Then he asked, “Who told you that you were naked? You have eaten, then, from the tree of which I had forbidden you to eat!” The man replied, “The woman whom you put here with me– she gave me fruit from the tree, and so I ate it.” The LORD God then asked the woman, “Why did you do such a thing?”
The woman answered, “The serpent tricked me into it, so I ate it.” Then the LORD God said to the serpent:
“Because you have done this, you shall be banned from all the animals and from all the wild creatures;
on your belly shall you crawl, and dirt shall you eat all the days of your life. I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” The man called his wife Eve, because she became the mother of all the living.

Psalm 98  Sing to the Lord a new song, for he has done marvelous deeds.

Ephesians 1:3-6,11-12
Blessed be God the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us with all the spiritual blessings of heaven in Christ. Before the world was made, he chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless, and to live through love in his presence, determining that we should become his adopted sons, through Jesus Christ for his own kind purposes, to make us praise the glory of his grace, his free gift to us in the Beloved, And it is in him that we were claimed as God’s own, chosen from the beginning, under the predetermined plan of the one who guides all things as he decides by his own will; chosen to be, for his greater glory, the people who would put their hopes in Christ before he came.

Luke 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean, but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour. Listen! You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I am a virgin?’ ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you’ the angel answered ‘and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God. Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.’ ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord,’ said Mary ‘let what you have said be done to me.’ And the angel left her.

Today we celebrate the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary. The circumstances of Jesus’ birth are paradoxical because the angel speaks of a virgin becoming a mother. Mary is confused: No marriage, no husband. And yet, mother? Hence, Mary asks a legitimate question, ‘How can this be?’ Impossible! That’s what Mary thinks. Humans have failed to understand God’s power to make the impossible possible. Sarah had laughed and Zechariah had doubted the angel’s words. Faith is a basic requisite for the impossible to become possible in one’s life. Faith in God can make water burst from rocks and divide the sea into two parts. when you think something is impossible, leave it to God, for whom everything is possible. Mary precisely does that by saying, ‘Let it be with me according to your word.’ Faith should not be the result of something impossible happening in our life but rather, the impossible should happen because of faith.  She lived by faith.

Hebrews 11 offers a Biblical definition of faith – “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see”.

Noah built an ark by faith when it had never rained before. Abraham left his family to obey God, even though he had no idea where he was going. Joseph told the Israelites when they leave Egypt not to leave his bones behind, because he had faith God would bring them to the land he had promised them.

Faith requires a response a risk.  It is not passive agreement.  James 2:17 says, “In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead”. You can believe in something and not have faith. People do it every single day. Let me give you an example. People believe you can jump out of an airplane with a parachute, pull the rip cord, and the parachute will open allowing you to safely land to the ground. You can ask just about anyone, and they will accept that statement is true. However, it is another thing to take the step of putting the parachute on, jumping out of the plane, pulling the rip cord, and safely landing on the ground. This does not require belief, this requires faith.

Faith and belief are two concepts that are often used interchangeably, but they have different meanings. Belief is based on information, while faith is based on application. Faith is confidence in God and his promises, while belief is acceptance of something as true. For example, you can believe that a chair will hold your weight, but you have faith that it will hold your weight when you sit on it. Faith is more than just believing something is true; it involves trust and confidence in something or someone.

In summary, belief is acknowledging something is true, while faith is confidence in something or someone.  For Mary, as for us, that someone is God.  Lord, increase our faith in you.