(Below are the notes from the video. Not all that is written below was said in the video.)
This last Friday, I had a very random question pop up in my head. I really did not understand why this question appeared to me but I decided to take a deeper look into it. I talked to a few friends about it. It was a question that I discussed with my good friend, Henrietta (I am concealing the name of my friend upon request), for almost an hour. Here’s the question: If we are full of selfishness, can faith in God exist?
I posed this question to Henrietta. The first point we brought up was that faith is dying to self, letting go of your pride and letting God take control. Faith is complete trust, complete confidence, and total conviction in God and His works. The next thing we discussed was, well, what really is selfishness? Selfishness is deciding and choosing to go against God. Selfishness is saying “I, me, my”, rather than putting complete faith in the all-knowing, ever-present, ever-faithful God. So the quick simple answer to the original question, “If we are full of selfishness, can faith in God exist?” is simply “no”. When we are acting in selfishness, we are inherently choosing Satan over God. We are choosing to go against God.
This is called sin. All sins are selfish. All sins are a reaction to temptation: “Oh, it’s ok… just this once”, or “well, I want this all for myself, no one else”. Think about it: when we set our own boundaries and morals based on the life of Jesus, we are making a commitment to God through His Son, Jesus, the Christ. When we choose to go against those morals, we are choosing to break our commitment to God. We are choosing to sin through our selfishness.
To give an example: Say somebody hurts you emotionally. It is painful, no doubt. We see an opportunity for revenge… what do we say? “Well, he/she deserves it for how they hurt me”. Selfishness at its best right there. Remember the words of Jesus, though, in Matthew 5:43-48. “You have heard that it was said, ‘ You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ 44 But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, 45 so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. 46 For if you love those who love you, what reward do you have? Do not even the tax collectors do the same? 47 If you greet only your brothers, what more are you doing than others? Do not even the Gentiles do the same? 48 Therefore you are to be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect.”
We decide to bring about retribution against our enemies rather than forgiving them. Jesus tells us in scripture that in order to be forgiven, we must first forgive. When we sin, when we decide no to forgive but to persecute, we are choosing to deny the very existence of God at that very moment, deciding that evil is better than good.
Listen, I’m not perfect and I would never dare to even say that I am perfect. It is really hard to live out that command from Matthew 5:48 that we must be perfect has our Father is perfect. How do we do that? Can we do it with selfishness? Can we do it without God? Can we do good things when choosing to do evil? The answer to those questions again are “no”. Why? St. Paul tells us in Philippians 4:13 that “I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” Paul is saying that we NEED Jesus, because with Jesus, we can do everything. When we decide that we don’t need Jesus, we cannot do anything and we are led into temptation and sin.
One final point… Henrietta said something interesting to me. She said that she does not understand why people put things on Facebook as follows: “I got my dream job! God is good!” or “Everything is just going so well right now! God is good!” Henrietta and I share a common dislike for these kinds of phrases. (I do recognize that some people post things like this to recognize that God is good all the time.) The questions that immediately pop into my head when I read these kinds of phrases are “So, are you implying that God is capable of evil? Is God only good when good things are happening to you?” Henrietta and I discussed this particular topic for a good 20 minutes. I won’t bore you with the details of the conversation, as we got into some personal stories, but we did come to a final solution. Ultimately, this is another case of selfishness, perhaps even arrogance and ignorance. When we say things like this, we are saying that God is only good when He is good to me. When things aren’t going well, God isn’t with me; God has abandoned me; God has forsaken me. No, he hasn’t brothers and sisters. God is with us every step of the way. He never said that we were going to live comfortable lives. If we are comfortable with our lives and our faith, then we are not in active pursuit of a true and loving God, who surpasses everything. The death on the cross conquered sin for us IF we choose to live by love, by faith, and run to a God whose arms are consistently wide open… just look at the cross.
Jesus was with the sinners, the tax collectors, the heretics. He was constantly with people who were living rough lives. He gives us the Eucharist to remind us of his sacrifice that He made for us. He gave us the bread of life, “…The bread of God [is that] which comes down from heaven and gives life to the world.” John 6:33. As Fulton Sheen once said: “The greatest love story of all time is contained in a tiny white host.”
Next time you find yourself struggling, remember that God is with you through it all. He wants to help you, but we so often shut Him out, leading to us feeling abandon. Strive to let God flourish in your life. “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up the cross, and come after me.”– Mark 8:34. Run to the cross, run to the Eucharistic, rid yourself of selfishness, live by faith, and write your chapter in the greatest love story of all time.