Walking by Faith and Not Sight

St. Paul invites us to walk by faith and not by sight ( 2 Cor. 5-7). It does not mean that we are to move aimlessly through an abyss. It is faith that enables us to move ahead in flux. That faith that enables us to walk without sight is not without eyes. We walk with eyes of faith. It is with eyes of faith that we come to grip the flux of life. This does not mean that the flux dies down. Flux continues and we are enabled to live in the flux of life. It is faith that puts a hand to the plough and does not look back. Faith leaps into the undecidable flux. Thus, faith enables us to say yes to life. This yes to life includes saying yes to suffering. Faith, therefore, leads us to compassion and embraces works of love. Faith without works of love is useless. This means faith is not cold but lives the warmth of life. There is no escaping from the flux of life. It enables us to give and live a response: ‘here I am’. This means faith is lived as a response to a call / to an address. It is a response of love through the works of love. Therefore, faith becomes a response to the call of an obligation to love. It is a call to live a mad economy that gives without any thought of return. It is a challenge to live by the non-principle of St. Augustine that says ‘love and do what you please’. It is living what Paul taught us when he says, “Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another.”(Rom. 13:8).

Faith is a holy ignorance that pushes us to love and stay hopeful. It gives us the courage to choose a dangerous safety. It gives us a passion for the impossible. It opens us to what no eye has seen or no ear has heard. It opens us to the yet to come. The future that is to come is impossible. It does not close on us and closes us up. Often we have a future that is the future of a past. Such a future closes our present and future and closes us. Faith opens our present and takes us not to repeatable possibilities of the past but to totally new possibilities of the future. This is why we say faith opens us to the impossible. Impossible transforms us. Hence, faith does not awaken us to a relatively foreseeable future. Such a future is possible and we can plan for it. Faith opens us to a completely unforeseeable future. It takes us into the coming that we cannot see as coming.

This means faith opens us to the wholly other/ our God. It opens to the coming that comes like the thief in the night. Hence, we have to be the lilies in the field who sow not nor reap but are willing to go with God who provides. Thus, faith makes us ready for anything. Faith makes us face an absolute future/ impossible future. We can take the instance of mother Mary at the annunciation. She was faced with the impossible with the invitation of being the mother. She said the Amen of yes to the impossible and we got the saviour of the world. Faith takes us past our foreseeable future/ future present and takes us in the domain that we can describe as God alone knows what. Impossibility is something whose possibility we could not foresee, something that eye has not seen, nor ear heard, something that has never entered into the mind of human beings (1 Cor 2:9).

Faith’s openness to the impossible is what gives life its salt. Faith that is lived at the limit of the possible is living the impossible. It is living in the cloud of unknowing. Faith that takes us to the impossible interrogates and deconstructs us. St. Augustine says this best when he says, ‘I have been made a question unto myself’. This faith enables us to let ourselves be deconstructed by God. The fact that we become open to the uncertain and the unfamiliar, we are made to become a question unto ourselves. Becoming more radically open to the future that we cannot see coming often tears apart our life and we experience what we call deconstruction of our life. This openness being an act of faith, we are enabled to live with the broken time, the time that is out of joint and is able to find God coming into the gaps and disjoints that we find in our life. It opens us to the radical coming of God that will open us to the new ethical and political future that gives us possibilities of being otherwise. This impossible that we are made attune by faith is a hope against hope. It is a faith and hope in what we cannot imagine coming, the unforeseeable fully other.

Faith that deconstructs us shatters our present horizon of possibility and leaves us asking how such a thing happened. It is the coming of the other that takes all our expectations, estimations and predictions by surprise. This means walking by faith is to walk by a passion and a prayer for the impossible. We are facing the impossible in several ways. Sometimes the possible appears like the impossible. We inherit the promises of the past that we have never made. We feel compelled to keep the promises. We think that it is upon us to tie back the knots of the erring past. This encounter with the past and its promises in the present and the future need to be redeemed by faith. Faith can deconstruct this drive to give a future to our past. This drive, therefore, is not the impossible that Derrida and Caputo talk about. The past cannot be unfamiliar and unforeseeable. Hence living to give future to a past empties our future of its promise and novelty. The horizon of expectation closes unto us and be become closed. Therefore, we need to walk by faith and welcome the future that we do not see coming.

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Hypocrisy is the tribute that vice pays to virtue.

- Fr Victor Ferrao