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Hebrews 11:1-7

Only faith can guarantee the blessings that we hope for, or prove the existence of the realities that at present remain unseen. It was for faith that our ancestors were commended.

It is by faith that we understand that the world was created by one word from God, so that no apparent cause can account for the things we can see.

It was because of his faith that Abel offered God a better sacrifice than Cain, and for that he was declared to be righteous when God made acknowledgement of his offerings. Though he is dead, he still speaks by faith.

It was because of his faith that Enoch was taken up and did not have to experience death: he was not to be found because God had taken him. This was because before his assumption it is attested that he had pleased God. Now it is impossible to please God without faith, since anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and rewards those who try to find him.

It was through his faith that Noah, when he had been warned by God of something that had never been seen before, felt a holy fear and built an ark to save his family. By his faith the world was convicted, and he was able to claim the righteousness which is the reward of faith.

Mark 9:2-13

Jesus took with him Peter and James and John and led them up a high mountain where they could be alone by themselves. There in their presence he was transfigured: his clothes became dazzlingly white, whiter than any earthly bleacher could make them. Elijah appeared to them with Moses; and they were talking with Jesus. Then Peter spoke to Jesus: “Rabbi,” he said, “it is wonderful for us to be here; so let us make three tents, one for you, one for Moses, and one for Elijah.” He did not know what to say; they were so frightened. And a cloud came, covering them in shadow; and there came a voice from the cloud, “This is my Son, the Beloved. Listen to him.” Then suddenly, when they looked round, they saw no one with them any more but only Jesus.

As they came down from the mountain he warned them to tell no one what they had seen, until after the Son of Man had risen from the dead. They observed the warning faithfully, though among themselves they discussed what “rising from the dead” could mean. And they put this question to him, “Why do the scribes say that Elijah has to come first?” “True,” he said, “Elijah is to come first and to see that everything is as it should be; yet how is it that the scriptures say about the Son of Man that he is to suffer grievously and be treated with contempt? However, I tell you that Elijah has come and they have treated him as they pleased, just as the scriptures say about him.”

A friend of mine from army frequently reminds me: On hindsight, everyone is a genius. It’s true. Many of us tend to look back at the choices we have made in the past, the paths we have walked before, and we frequently say to ourselves, “If only I had done this and this…” or “If only I had known that, I would have done it differently”. The point is that we didn’t and nothing we do now can change what happened in the past. But we can learn from our mistakes made in the past and when something similar happens again in the present, we can make a different choice, even though the situation will not be exactly the same.

Sometimes, someone older than us will share with us a bit of his or her wisdom. She will tell us, “When I was your age, I made some bad choices. Listen to me and don’t make the same mistake.” If we are wise, we will listen to her advice and learn from her experiences, so that we do not make the same mistake. She already has the gift of hindsight, and because she tells us her story, we too have that gift of hindsight. With this gift of hindsight, we will be able to go through life without making the same mistake… if we only take the time to listen, and have the humility to learn from her mistakes.

What does this have to do with today’s readings? Today’s readings talk about faith - the faith of various people in the history of the Jews. It talks about the faith of Abel, Noah, and Enoch, who were men of faith. They believed in God and his righteousness, and because of their faith, they were rewarded. If we are wise, we will learn from their experiences and have faith in God too.

The funny thing about faith is that it always involves an unknown factor. Faith in something or someone means a certain degree of trust. But faith goes beyond trust. Faith goes to the level of believing something even without the hard evidence to back it up. For example, I may have a good friend that I trust because he has never broken a promise to me before. But if I have faith in him, it will not be because of anything except for who he is. I have no evidence to base my faith on. Maybe some evidence, but this evidence falls short of ensuring anything. The thing about faith is, I don’t know, but there is a leap of faith. That leap is not supported by anything. It is perhaps a gut feeling, an instinctive reaction, a leap into the unknown. That is faith.

God invites us to go beyond trusting in him, but to have faith in him. Trusting him is when we believe that he will not let us down in times of need, because he has never done so with us in the past. Having faith in him is believing in something like the resurrection of the dead, which no one we know but Jesus has gone through. We have never gone through the resurrection of the dead, but we have faith in God that we will experience it one day. That’s faith.

In a more human context, trust is believing that your boyfriend is not seeing someone else. Faith is believing that your husband will be faithful to you always, now and in the future. Trust is based on the past evidence and deals with the present; faith is based on the present, and deals with the future.

The stories of the many saintly people in our lives and that we read about, all these provide evidence that we can trust God to keep to what he has promised. But we are invited to go one step further, to take a leap of faith into the unknown, based on the hindsight of those who have taken that leap and were not disappointed.

On hindsight, everyone is a genius. On faith, everyone is rewarded. What is this reward? It is the reward of seeing God face to face.

Dear Lord, grant us the gift of hindsight, so that we might be able to make a leap of faith in you. Amen.

Give Thanks to the Lord for: Hindsight.

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