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Sunday, July 24, 2005

On Faith, HEBREWS 11:1-2

HEBREWS 11:1-2.


"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen. For by it the elders obtained a good report."



1. How great a dignity the Lord bestows on you in transferring you from the order of Catechumens to that of the Faithful, the Apostle Paul shews, when he affirms, God is faithful, by Whom ye were called into the fellowship of His Son Jesus Christ. For since God is called Faithful, thou also in receiving this title receivest a great dignity. For as God is called Good, and Just, and Almighty, and Maker of the Universe, so is He also called Faithful. Consider therefore to what a dignity thou art rising, seeing thou art to become partaker of a title of God.

2. Here then it is further required, that each of you be found faithful in his conscience: for a faithful man it is hard to find: not that thou shouldest shew thy conscience to me, for thou art not to be judged of man's judgment; but that thou shew the sincerity of thy faith to God, who trieth the reins and hearts, and knoweth the thoughts of men. A great thing is a faithful man, being richest of all rich men. For to the faithful man belongs the whole world of wealth, in that he disdains and tramples on it. For they who in appearance are rich, and have many possessions, are poor in soul: since the more they gather, the more they pine with longing for what is still lacking. But the faithful man, most strange paradox, in poverty is rich: for knowing that we need only to have food and raiment, and being therewith content, he has trodden riches under foot.

3. Nor is it only among us, who bear the name of Christ, that the dignity of faith is great: but likewise all things that are accomplished in the world, even by those who are aliens from the Church, are accomplished by faith.

By faith the laws of marriage yoke together those who have lived as strangers: and because of the faith in marriage contracts a stranger is made partner of a stranger's person and possessions. By faith husbandry also is sustained, for he who believes not that he shall receive a harvest endures not the toils. By faith sea-faring men, trusting to the thinnest plank, exchange that most solid element, the land, for the restless motion of the waves, committing themselves to uncertain hopes, and carrying with them a faith more sure than any anchor. By faith therefore most of men's affairs are held together: and not among us only has there been this belief, but also, as I have said, among those who are without. For if they receive not the Scriptures, but bring forward certain doctrines of their own, even these they accept by faith.

4. The lesson also which was read to-day invites you to the true faith, by setting before you the way in which you also must please God: for it affirms that without faith it is impossible to please Him. For when will a man resolve to serve God, unless he believes that He is a giver of reward? When will a young woman choose a virgin life, or a young man live soberly, if they believe not that for chastity there is a crown that fadeth not away? Faith is an eye that enlightens every conscience, and imparts understanding; for the Prophet saith, And if ye behave not, ye shall not understand.

Faith stoppeth the mouths of lions, as in Daniel's case: for the Scripture saith concerning him, that Daniel was brought up out of the den, and no manner of hurt was found upon him, because he believed in his God. Is there anything more fearful than the devil? Yet even against him we have no other shield than faith, an impalpable buckler against an unseen foe. For he sends forth divers arrows, and shoots dawn in the dark night those that watch not; but, since the enemy is unseen, we have faith as our strong armour, according to the saying of the Apostle, In all thinks taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked one. A fiery dart of desire of base indulgence is often cast forth from the devil: but faith, suggesting a picture of the judgment, cools down the mind, and quenches the dart.

ST. CYRIL OF JERUSALEM: CATECHETICAL LECTURES, LECTURES V TO X, LECTURE V.