In this week’s blog, Fr. Paddy discusses faith and hope within our daily lives.

One of my favourite questions when I walk into any Primary or Secondary School is “Any good news?”. Invariably the conversation lightens, faces brighten and hope is shared. In a time when so much bad news can overwhelm, perhaps the greatest gift God continues to bless us is with the gift of Faith and Hope.

I recently found the following story an inspiring one. ‘After school the little boy told his grandmother what he learned in his geography class, “Gran,” he tells her, “Scientists have discovered that our village is nothing but an anthill compared to the sun.” She listened carefully to everything he had to say. He talked about the vastness of outer space, the tremendous distances between the planets and smallness of the world, his village, the nearby forest, and the blue mountain on the horizon that had up to then been his universe. “Gran,” he continued with considerable agitation, “My teacher says we are just specks in the universe. We don’t matter at all.” The old lady said nothing at first. They walked home in silence. When they reached home she sat him down, put her had on his shoulder and said, “Have you ever looked at Jumbo’s eyes.” Jumbo was the elephant that roamed the countryside. Like all elephants his eyes were tiny for an animal so huge. “Jumbo has no idea how big he is because he looks out at the world through such tiny eyes.” We can look at the world through our tiny eyes, but if we insist on doing so, we will never know how wonderful we are.’

Faith and hope contained within our hearts to carry us further, over the hill, and far beyond, further than our eyes can see. Faith is an active virtue. Sometimes we use the wrong senses to deepen it. We try to make faith an academic question, as if having the right answers all the time increases our faith. The right answer might make us smarter, but it doesn’t always deepen faith. It is the heart that pushes us out of our chair into the pain and heartache of another human being, and intensifies the awareness of God in our lives. It is also our heart that allows us to experience and support the encouragement of family and friends who remind us we are not alone.

Faith and hope are the driving force behind everything we do. It determines how we live and what we do. It’s the power that motivates our whole approach to life. It determines whether or not we treat, with reverence and respect, the people we like, or dislike, or who dislike us.

Faith is God’s gift to us. It’s amazing how easily we forget this. It’s a gift I seem to have had from my earliest years, and I am grateful for it, even though I haven’t always lived up to it. A gift is only a gift when we accept it and make it part of our lives. Like any gift, faith has to be cultivated, or else we lose it. If it is not nourished, it will die. If it is not practiced, it can be lost. It sounds simple.

I wonder why religious people so easily forget this?