A Catholic Convert in Ottawa

A Scoop of Bran or a Spoonful of Sugar?

Posted on: July 14, 2014

bran & sugar

Should a life of faith be as bland as bran or as sweet as sugar?

Someone who holds no faith, or maybe someone new to the faith, could hold one of two extreme views about how the lives of people of faith should look:

Like a scoop of bran: Some high-fibre cereals can be bland, lacking something—fruit, nuts, sweet spices—that would make them more appealing. In the same way, someone might think people of faith must lead boring, colourless lives, always saying no to fun and to exciting opportunities.

Like a spoonful of sugar: Some cereals seem to have sugar as their first (and second, and third) ingredient. Similarly, someone might think that life will always be sweet for people of faith. Grief, disappointment, illness and loss will strike other people. And if they come to us, we must lack a strong faith or a full prayer life—or we’re being punished.

But neither view lines up with the truth.

A life of faith holds more appeal than a scoop of bran. For example, our parish youth group held an event at a martial arts studio and we hope to take the youth group to soccer or football games. Members of the Catholic Women’s League help organize the Ratanak fundraiser I mentioned recently, which has included a fashion show and silent auction. And in any given issue of Catholic Digest, we can read about athletes, performers, writers and others who try to live out their faith in their sphere of work.

We may even be called to seize opportunities we can’t anticipate that fall into God’s plan for us. Just look at Moses. When he was called to lead the Israelites out of slavery to the Promised Land, Moses said, “Oh, my Lord, send, I pray, some other person” (Exodus 4:13*). He struggled to believe he was the right man for the job. David must have been surprised when he was called from keeping the sheep to be anointed king (see 1 Samuel 16:11-13). And Saul, later Paul, couldn’t have imagined becoming a Christian (see Acts 9:1-30) and the apostle to the Gentiles when he was persecuting the followers of Jesus (see Acts 8:1-3, 9:1-2).

Does a life of faith sound dull after all?

Jesus told us to care for the needy, to forgive, to love our neighbour, to “Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:19-20). That hardly sounds like a law that life must be boring and colourless—especially when we don’t know how we will be asked to make disciples. What we do know is that God will “equip [us] with everything good that [we] may do his will, working in [us] that which is pleasing in his sight” (Hebrews 13:21) and that he will never leave us (see Hebrews 13:5).

A life of faith isn’t all sweetness and light. We know people of faith have their struggles too. My paternal grandmother had a strong faith, but she lost a twelve-year battle with melanoma. Parents who raise their children in the faith may see their children walk away from the Church or struggle with addiction. And our prayer groups may be called to pray for fellow parishioners to find work or be healed from an injury or a chronic illness.

Again, if we look to the Bible, we read that the apostle James, the brother of John, was executed by King Herod (see Acts 12:2). The sons of the priest Eli “treated the offering of the LORD with contempt” (1 Samuel 2:17), and the prophet Samuel’s sons “took bribes and perverted justice” (1 Samuel 8:3). And many people of faith needed Jesus to heal them, including the man born blind (see John 9:2).

Jesus never promised us that life would be sweet and free of struggle. He told us, “In the world you have tribulation; but be of good cheer, I have overcome the world” (John 16:33). And Jesus said he would prepare a place for his people in heaven (see John 14:2-3).

As people of faith, we shouldn’t expect to lead a dull life or a perfect one; we should pray to become more like Christ and to learn more about God’s plan for our lives.

(*Scripture quotes taken from the Holy Bible, Revised Standard Version, Second Catholic Edition.)

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Food for Thought

(Y)ou do not know about tomorrow. What is your life? For you are a mist that appears for a little time and then vanishes. Instead you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and we shall do this or that.” ~ James 4:14-15

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