Faith in What?

I was listening Tracy Chapman’s song “Heaven’s Here on Earth” while wondering about the fate of the world, and her phrase “faith in humankind” jumped out at me. What a radical idea that is.

Faith is not an easy or a reasonable thing. The news tells us 24/7 that humanity is an unreliable mess. Society recommends trusting constant acquisition of stuff and status instead.

Jesus, on the other hand, had tremendous faith in humanity. Who in his right mind would say, “You are Peter, and on this rock I will build my church”? What was Jesus thinking? This is the guy who fell asleep in the garden and went on to deny Jesus three times and run away. But Peter’s also the one who recognized the Christ: “You are the Messiah, the Son of the living God.”

Jesus called Zacchaeus, not exactly a model citizen, down from the tree. He told the woman caught in adultery to go and sin no more. That shows tremendous faith. He didn’t overlook what they’d done before, who they’d shown themselves to be up until then, he looked beyond it. He didn’t ignore the evidence against them but was willing to look at all the evidence in their favor.

What did he see?

He must have seen himself. He must have seen their divinity.

According to a reflection by Jim Finley, “Thomas Merton says there is that in you that no one [including you] can destroy or diminish because it belongs completely to God.” At the same time, we are literally made of this Earth. Everything we are and have comes from the Earth.

These are not contradictory ideas—these are two reasons for hope, for faith in humankind. We are not earthly or divine interlopers. As one of the products of billions of years of evolution, we belong on this sacred planet, as Brian Swimme points out.

“Heaven’s here on Earth in our faith in humankind,” Chapman’s song reminds us. Faith in our ability to love and to change, in our intimate connection to creation, in the reality of God dwelling within us.


3 thoughts on “Faith in What?

  1. Sometimes find it hard to trust in people….but your reminder takes me to an image Caryll Houselander planted in me – that Christ is IN everyone. She had a mystical vision of this on a London subway – seeing all the tired faces suddenly become the face of Christ. She walked around for days actually seeing more and more how we are all the suffering Jesus. “Rocking Horse Catholic” is the book that tells her first two visions as a girl and later a teen. Then the young adult vision (3’s a charm) came when she was working – that might be in a later book, not sure. Thanks as always.

  2. Rachel – wow. Don’t know what else to say.

    Marni – maybe we could all be the rejoicing Jesus or the compassionate Jesus?

  3. Very thoughtful and heartfelt reflection Rachel. It reminds me that when we recollect that which is best about each other it sometimes, mysteriously becomes manifest, a self-fulfilling prophecy of sorts. The opposite is unfortunately also true, and also easier to come by. The tendency toward criticism that can descend into cynicism feels like a gravitational force sometimes. There is a strong impulse in human beings to generalize negative experiences and superimpose them on entire categories of people. That is a form of ignorance (part of the thicket of views the Buddha spoke of) that I struggle against. On the other hand, I’m always delighted by the goodness of people when that is revealed in some way.

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