When I made my Christian Awakening weekend 41 years ago, I learned the simple definition of faith: Faith is a leap in the dark. This definition was strengthened by the following story of Maria:
There was a young girl named Maria. She was the youngest of three children in her family. Unlike her siblings, Maria was born blind. Despite the obstacle, she was a beautiful, loving little girl. Her family lived on the third floor of an apartment building and, one day, a fire broke out on one of the lower floors. The fire spread quickly and everyone rushed out of the building. Maria’s father grabbed two of his children and rushed his family out of the building before they were consumed with smoke & flames. He thought that his wife had grabbed Maria but was mistaken & didn’t realize it until they were standing in front of the building. In his panic, Maria’s father started to call toward their third floor apartment windows for Maria. “Maria, come to the window! Maria, come to the window!” After a few seconds (what seemed like hours), little Maria appeared at the window with the flames & smoke billowing behind her. Maria cried, “Daddy, help me. I can’t get out—it’s too hot.” Maria’s father said, as calmly as he could, “Maria, you need to climb on the window ledge & jump out. I will catch you—just climb to the ledge & jump.” But Maria relented, “Daddy, I can’t climb on the ledge & jump. I am too afraid.” Her father said, “Maria, you need to trust me. Climb on the ledge & jump & I will catch you. I promise.” Maria was too frightened, crying, and said again, “Daddy, I can’t. I’m too afraid.” He said, “Maria, you have to trust me. I can’t go back into the building. You need to climb up & jump.” And so, Maria slowly climbed to the ledge, crying & afraid, and jumped into the air. And her father caught her and she was safe.
In Lent, we as Catholics are asked to take a leap in the dark—in believing that Jesus was a man and God—that He was crucified, died & rose again three days later. This is insane—most people would think that that is insane. I cannot prove that to you or anyone with absolute evidence. I can only tell you that the beliefs & the faith of people that I trust have told me this—my parents, my teachers, my friends, the Church, the MYP. When I am overwhelmed with things going on in life, my family, my career—I am reminded to have faith, to take that leap in the dark—and trust that God is calling to me and there to catch me when I need Him the most. My prayer is that Maria’s story is what you need to hear right now in your life.