The following is a reflection given by President Jean Anne Zappa, OSU, at the annual Missioning service held on August 5, 2022 in the Motherhouse Chapel. Sisters, Associates and staff were invited to attend. The theme of this year’s missioning is “Walk In Faith.”
When we go to the doctor, or read health articles, we are encouraged to walk—walking is good for your health, walking is good for your heart, walking sideways you burn more calories because your body works in unfamiliar ways.
Walking in faith is good for our spiritual health and good for our heart and soul and walking in faith calls us to journey in unfamiliar or uncomfortable ways at times.
We read that most of us really do not know how to walk—the qualifications are endurance, having comfortable and even old shoes, keep an eye open for nature, have an attitude of curiosity, being silent and not having much to do.
Do we know how to walk in faith? We are reminded about endurance in scripture, we need to be comfortable in our relationship with God like an old shoe, definitely need to keep an eye open for nature because grace builds on nature, be curious where God may be leading us, silence to listen to God and my goodness don’t do much when walking in faith, let God lead.
Walking clears your mind, enriches the soul, open your eyes to a new world. Walking in faith clears our mind and heart, enriches our soul, and opens our eyes and heart to life experiences be it pain or confusion or conversion and acceptance—to a new world—a world of hope, love, compassion, peace, and healing.
Walking in faith calls us to embrace the realities around us in hope and in love- be it the brokenness of ourselves, others, or the world.
When walking on a treadmill, 10 minutes feels like an hour—you keep on moving, but don’t get anywhere. When you walk with someone, a good friend, the time goes by faster in conversation, or just being in the presence of a friend, or sharing our inner most thoughts. That is how walking in faith works—being with that intimate friend of your God, be it conversation, silence or even restlessness, you know you are not alone. Richard Rohr said that “Faith is trusting that an intrinsic union exists between us and God. We experience this union as pure grace and free gift.”
Sometimes in walking, our feet hurt, or we slow down, shuffle or lose our way, or take a different turn. Well, walking in faith works that way—our heart hurts, we ache, maybe feel like we lost our way, confused, a wrong turn in our life, yet walking in faith means we keep on walking and knowing we are not alone.
In Isaiah, the people were rebellious and faithless, unwilling to listen, yet God did not get impatient with them for God is a God of mercy, love and justice and promised restoration of Israel. The invitation was to return to faith and rest in God to be saved, to walk in faith, to be still and trust to find your strength. God is gracious, never abandons us, even in adversity. Listen to the voice of God—this is the way, walk in it. An invitation to embrace the loving faithful God in faith.
In Romans, Paul is addressing the Gentile Christians and the Jewish Christians because of the tension in how they approach faith. Paul reminds them faith is not a private matter but a proclamation, a witness to your life—what you proclaim in words, show in action, and believe in your heart. A command to go forth and proclaim what you believe in words and deeds, how you walk in faith is expressed in your life, relationships with your God and others.
So here we are on missioning day—we are invited to walk in faith, to walk with a God of love, compassion, a faithful forgiving God. And we are commanded by our vows of baptism and religious life to proclaim the faith we believe, the faith we walk in to share the good news with others by word and deed.
We go forth, supporting and encouraging each other to walk in faith with our God and each other, every step of the way and as Saint Angela reminds us—have faith and keep up your courage.
The Lord will give you bread in adversity
and water in affliction.
No longer will your Teacher* hide himself,
but with your own eyes you shall see your Teacher,And your ears shall hear a word behind you:
“This is the way; walk in it,”
when you would turn to the right or the left.
And how can people preach unless they are sent?
As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those
who bring [the] good news!”
But not everyone has heeded the good news; for Isaiah says,
“Lord, who has believed what was heard from us?”
Thus faith comes from what is heard, and what is
heard comes through the word of Christ.
But I ask, did they not hear? Certainly they did; for
“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth, and
their words to the ends of the world.”