The Coin of Faith

From Br. Joseph —

There are two sides to faith, just as there are two sides to a coin.

One side of the “coin of faith” looks externally, that is, it looks outside of our selves to others for examples and models of living faith. They are witnesses, and it is in accepting their experiences, their testimony, that helps us to believe. (Note: witness, with-ness)

If we look beyond those who have an immediate influence on us, we can see other people have influenced them, and still others have influenced those people, and so. In a very few steps, we begin to see a whole network of witnesses, a web of belief. Follow this web of belief, this chain of testimony, back to its origin, and we find the Apostles, the First Witnesses to Jesus. (Note: testimony, Old Testament, New Testament)

The other side of the coin of faith looks internally, that is, it looks within to our own personal experiences of God. These experiences help us to say internally within our hearts, “I believe.”

In other words, each of us who believe, those who have opened our selves to the possibility of God, can identify certain moments in our lives where we have experienced something that is not of ourselves, something bigger, something more. A few of us may have had specific, big life-changing moments. Or more likely, most of us have had several small moments, almost insignificant in their first appearance, but still very powerful, transformative, and energizing.

It is part of human nature to have preferences, and so we naturally tend to depend on or rub one side of our coin of faith more than the other. That is okay, but over-dependence on one particular side is not healthy faith. It does not make us a whole person, both inside and out. There must be some sort of balance because there will be times when doubt challenges to knock our faith down.

Doubt is not always a bad thing. It makes us stronger and helps weed out the unnecessary stuff that we cling to, much like separating the chaff from the wheat. It makes faith honest. Scripture calls this purification, smelting down the gold till it is pure. And it is the interdependence of the two sides of faith, between the internal and external, that keeps both sides of faith honest, real, and balanced.

At the beginning of our journey, we were given a coin of faith. We chose to accept or reject this gift. If we accepted, then it is our task to carry this coin in our hearts, rubbing it in times of need, times of doubt, in bad times and good. Times of struggle or sorrow polish it to a high luster and remind us that God is with us (Emmanuel). Times of joy allow us to bask in gratitude and the glow of Jesus in its shine, and radiate that to others around us, to make God present in the world, to be witness (with-ness).

And at the end of our journey, we will have to hand our coin of faith back to God. We will not need it in our Father’s home. Faith is needed only for the journey. Besides, the coin of faith was never really ours to begin with. It really belongs to His Son. Jesus paid our way. He gives the coin of faith its value.

Our Lady of Mercy, pray for us…

P.S. If your coin of faith has been lost, do not worry. Jesus promised all things are found again if they want to be.