Quality not quantity
Like ‘prayer’, ‘religion’ and so many other words, the word ‘faith’ means different things to different people. Our understanding of Biblical faith has been very limited. What set us on the wrong path was making ‘ideas’ or ‘doctrines’ the object of religious faith, instead of a person. Our faith is not a faith that dogmas or moral opinions are true, but a faith that Ultimate Reality/God/Jesus is accessible to us – and even on our side. Jesus was able to touch and heal people who trusted him as an emissary of God’s love, not people who assessed intellectual statements and decided whether they were true or false. Such faith does not usually change our heart or our lifestyle.
We often interpret faith in terms of quantity. The apostles ask Jesus to increase their faith. We think we should have more faith. Jesus is not talking about quantity but about quality, the quality of our perception towards the moment.
Faith is an opening of our heart space or our mind space. Initially and foundationally, this is all that faith is but its effects and implications are enormous. Faith is our small but necessary offering to any new change or encounter. Such an opening of the heart and mind is entirely necessary to help us make fresh starts or break through to new levels. We normally have to let go of the old and go through a stage of unknowing or confusion before we can move to another level of awareness or new capacity. People of great faith often suffer bouts of great doubt (which is really fear) at many levels because they continue to grow at new levels.
Faith is a quality of seeing that allows us to expand our vision, to see things in bigger circles, in bigger realms and to know that at the centre of it all is a good and gracious and benevolent God. With such faith we can do impossible and wonderful things.
Richard Rohr: The Naked Now; Daily Meditations; Homilies