“Please papa, do not lock me in the chest with the live rats again, I promise I will never cry again, por favor, no” are her last words as the door closes and the rats move around her five-year-old body.
“Mama, it wasn’t my fault; your boyfriend attacked me again last night, and I tried to fight him off, please do not kick me out” as the door shuts on the face of the nine year old abandoned by her jealous mother to the streets of San Pedro Sula, the murder capital of the world.
Jesus commanded, “Do not fear, only have faith.” (Mark 5.36). “We walk by faith, not yet by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7); “because it is by grace that you have been saved, through faith; not by anything of your own, but by a gift from God” (Ephesians 2:8).
Three beautiful passages of Sacred Scripture about faith, the question is do they remain just words or are they truly “passages,” a new Way of living for each of us?
The “passages” remind us that FAITH is not an intellectual, emotional, physical someTHING we do on our own – our intellect, emotions and strengths are all very limited – faith is an eternal gift of God – there are no limits. Faith is the KEY that opens the Kingdom of God to us in the present moment, no matter how dark that moment may be.
One night, I was sitting with two girls aged 5 and 9 who had come to Amigos de Jesús within the year. I knew their story. We were watching some of my USA friends playing with the other children when one of them asked me, “Padre, do you love us more than you love the Gringos?” I asked her if she had any doubt about my answer, and with that they both hugged me, and we spent the next half hour hugging and crying together.
How could these horribly abused children ever love, hug, cry again?
A trauma doctor from a well known children’s hospital went to visit Amigos de Jesús in order to bring her expertise to the “traumatized” children. Within a very short time she realized she was there to receive, not bring; to learn, not teach. She labeled Amigos de Jesús “a monastery of healing for little people” and wants to do research as to why the children of Amigos de Jesús, who have been abused far more horribly than her patients, are so healthy, joyful and loving. Actually, why are the children of Amigos de Jesús more healthy, joyful and loving than most children in the USA?
At the beginning of each Eucharist, I ask the children, “Somos?” “We are?” And with proud, loving voices they answer, “Amigos de Jesús.” That IS our identity, that IS who the children believe they are, that IS who Jesus Christ told them He is for them. That is their FAITH. That is FAITH – believing the Truth of who we are and Who God is. This identity is the ground for all other truths and can only be reached by faith.
Massive theological volumes have been written about faith – but they are just words. Even the power and beauty of today’s three Scripture passages can remain just words. Faith is the key that unlocks the words, faith is the key to opening the gifts of the Kingdom of God upon us” (Mk 1.15; Mt 12.28; Luke 10.11).
Faith is not about something, faith is about Someone. Someone Who calls us “amigo,” child, beloved, heir to His Kingdom – not because we have earned it, deserved it, worked for it, intellectually figured it out or emotionally felt it. Faith is a pure gift from Jesus Christ Who waits for us to choose to open or not open.
Faith is about two innocent, beautiful little girls who have been horribly abused crossing the bridge into their new Home, being embraced by their new sisters, brothers and padrinos, choosing to believe they are loved daughters of God, to believe they are cherished temples of the Holy Spirit – to believe they are Amigos de Jesús!
And what or who is your faith about?
- Father Dennis O'Donnell, President and Co-Founder of Amigos de Jesús