Lost Faith

Lost Faith - Pope Francis         

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Today the Church invites us to reflect on the journey from paganism and idolatry to the living God, and also on the journey from the living God to idolatry.

The Gospel tells us that, in turning to Jesus, the woman is “brave”, like any “desperate mother” who would do anything “for the health of their child”. “She had been told that there was a good man, a prophet, and so she went to look for Jesus, even though she “did not believe in the God of Israel”. For the sake of her daughter “she was not ashamed of how she might look before the Apostles”, who might say amongst themselves “what is this pagan doing here?”. She approached Jesus to beg him to help her daughter who was possessed by an unclean spirit. But Jesus responds to her request saying “I came first for the sheep of the house of Israel”. He “speaks with harsh words”, saying: “Let the children help themselves first, because it is not good to take the children's bread and throw it to the dogs”.

The woman — who certainly had never attended university — did not respond to Jesus with intelligence, but instead with a mother's gut, with love. She said: “Even the dogs under the table will eat the children’s crumbs”, as if to say: “Give these crumbs to me!”. Moved by her
faith, “the Lord worked a miracle”. She returned home, found her daughter lying on her bed, and the demon was gone.

Essentially, it is the story of a mother who risked making a fool of herself, but still insisted out of love for her daughter. She left “paganism and idolatry, and found health for her daughter” and, for herself she “found the living God”. Hers is “the way of a person of good will, who
seeks God and finds him”. For her faith, “the Lord blesses her”. This is also the story of so many people who still “make this journey”. “The Lord waits for” these people, who are moved by the Holy Spirit. “There are people who make this journey every day in the Church of God, silently seeking the Lord”, because they “let themselves be carried forward by the Holy Spirit”.

However, there is also “the opposite path”, which is represented by the figure of Solomon, “the wisest man on earth, who had received many great blessings; he had inherited a united country, the union that his father David had made”. King Solomon had “universal fame”, he had “complete power”. He was also “a believer in God”. So why did he
lose his faith? The answer lies in the biblical passage: “His women made him divert his heart to follow other gods, and his heart did not remain with the Lord, his God, as the heart of David his father did”. 

Solomon liked women. He had many concubines and would travel with them here and there: each with her own god, her own idol. “These women slowly weakened Solomon’s heart”. He, therefore, “lost the integrity” of the faith. When one woman would ask him for a small temple for “her god”, he would build it on a mountain. And when another woman would ask him for incense to burn for an idol, he would buy it. In doing so “his heart was weakened and he lost his faith”.

"The wisest man in the world” lost his faith this way. Solomon allowed himself to become corrupt because of an indiscreet love, without discretion, because of his passions. Yet, you might say: “But Father, Solomon did not lose his faith, he still believed in God, he could recite the Bible” from memory. Having faith does not mean being able to recite the Creed: you can still recite the Creed after having lost your faith!.

Solomon, was a sinner in the beginning like his father David. But then he continued living as a sinner and became corrupt: his heart was corrupted by idolatry. His father David was a sinner, but the Lord had forgiven all of his sins because he was humble and asked for forgiveness. Instead, Solomon’s “vanity and passions led” him to “corruption”. For, the Pope explained, “the heart is precisely the place where you can lose your faith”.

The king, therefore, takes the opposite path than that of the Syro-Phoenician woman: "she leaves the idolatry of paganism and comes to find the living God”, while Solomon instead “left the living God and finds idolatry": what a poor man! She was a sinner, sure, just as we all are. But he was corrupt.

I hope that “no evil seed will grow” in the human heart. It was the seed of evil passions, growing in Solomon’s heart that led him to idolatry. To prevent this seed from developing: “Receive with meekness the Word that has been planted in you and it can lead you to salvation”. With this knowledge, we follow the path of the Canaanite woman, the pagan woman, accepting the Word of God, which was planted in us and will lead us to salvation. The Word of God is powerful, and it will safeguard us on the path and prevent us from the destruction of corruption and all that leads to idolatry.



Pope Francis   13.02.20  Holy Mass Santa Marta (Domus Sanctae Marthae)        1 Kings 11:4-13    Psalm 106: 35-36      

Pope Francis talks about turning away from God 13.02.20

When Solomon was old his wives had turned his heart to strange gods.

King Solomon began as a “good boy”, who asked the Lord for wisdom and God made him wise to the point that judges, and even the Queen of Sheba in Africa, came bearing gifts because they had heard of his wisdom.

At that time it was possible to have more than one wife. But that did not mean it was permissible to be “a womanizer”.

But Solomon’s heart became weak, not because he married several women, but because they came from other peoples with other gods. He fell into a trap by letting his wives convince him to worship their idols, Chemosh or Molech.

And so he did this for all his foreign women who offered sacrifices to their gods. In one word, he allowed everything and stopped worshipping the one God. With a weakened heart because of his overly fondness for women, paganism entered his life. Then that wise man who had prayed well asking for wisdom, fell to the point of being rejected by the Lord.

His wasn’t an apostasy overnight. It was a slow apostasy. Even King David, his father, in fact, had sinned - strongly at least twice - but immediately he had repented and asked for forgiveness: he had remained faithful to the Lord who guarded him to the end. David wept for that sin and for the death of his son Absalom, and when he fled from him before, he was humbled thinking of his sin, when people insulted him. He was holy. Solomon is not holy. The Lord had given him so many gifts, but he had wasted everything because he had let his heart weaken. King Solomon did not just sin once but slid into sin.

The women led his heart astray, and the Lord rebuked him: ‘You have turned your heart away.’ This happens in our own lives. None of us is a criminal; none of us commits great sins like David did with the wife of Uriah. But wherein lies the danger? Letting ourselves slide slowly, because it is an anesthetized fall. You don’t even realize it, but slowly you slip. Things get relativized, and faithfulness to God is lost. These women were from other peoples – they had their own gods – and how often do we forget the Lord and begin to deal with other gods: money, vanity, pride. But this is done slowly, and without the grace of God everything is lost.

Psalm 106: 35-36 "But they mingled with the nations and imitated their ways. They served their idols and were ensnared by them", shows that serving their idols means becoming worldly and pagan.

For us this slippery slide in life is towards worldliness. This is the grave sin: ‘Everyone is doing it, don’t worry about it; obviously it’s not ideal, but…’ We justify ourselves with these words to the price of losing our faithfulness to the one God. They are modern idols. Let us consider this sin of worldliness, of losing the authenticity of the Gospel. The authenticity of the Word of God, and the love of God who gave His life for us. There is no way to maintain a good relationship with God and the devil. In practice it means not being faithful "neither to God nor to the devil." 

Let us think of this sin of Solomon, let us think of how that wise Solomon fell, blessed by the Lord, with all the inheritances of his father David, how he fell slowly, anesthetized towards this idolatry, towards this worldliness, and the kingdom was taken from him.

Let us ask the Lord for the grace to understand when our heart begins to weaken and to slide, so that we can stop. It will be His grace and His love that will stop us if we pray for him.