I have to often remind myself that being a Catholic does not mean only going to Mass every Sunday as prescribed by the Church and doing all the other things that the Church prescribes. It’s not about following rules. If we claim to believe in God and truly love him, this relationship will unavoidably begin to reveal itself in our everyday lives. It is just simply impossible for anyone to truly believe in God and love him, while at the same time, continuing to live a life that is unchanged and focussed only on ones own spiritual, mental and physical well being.
Our faith is a bit like water in a kettle. While the kettle is off, the water is cold and simply is present in the kettle. Then, when we switch the kettle on, the water begins to heat up. While it is still only lukewarm, it appears no different to the cold water that was in the kettle. You would need to physically reach out and touch it to be aware that a change is taking place and that it is getting warmer.
When the water begins to get hot in the kettle, we can then begin to notice the change by just looking at it, because the water now begins to bubble and move. The water does not however yet have any effect on its surrounding unless one reaches out and physically touches it.
When the kettle water reaches boiling point all this changes. It begins to have an effect on its surroundings. The water can be seen moving. The water feels hot, even if you don’t physically touch it, but merely put your hand near it. The water also does not stay in the kettle. It begins to escape out of the spout, as it becomes steam. This steam is no longer restrained to the kettle and begins to have an impact on its surroundings, even if the surroundings are not reaching out to it or looking at it. If you tried to block the spout, no doubt the kettle would explode, because it is not possible to contain the steam in the kettle.
We are like kettles filled with water. God is the heating element. When we are baptised the kettle is switched on and we receive sanctifying grace. As we allow God into our lives more and more, by frequently receiving the Sacraments and praying constantly, so the water within us begins to slowly and surely heat up because of the increase of sanctifying grace that we receive from God. Eventually our faith becomes like the steam of the kettle. It flows out from us and begins to affect those around us at work, in our social circles and many other places and occasions. Sometimes even those who do not come directly into contact with us may be affected.
If we believe in and truly love God, our faith will naturally begin to manifest itself in all that we do, think and say. We read in the letter of St James that like “the body apart from the spirit is dead, so faith apart from works is dead.” It is not possible for it to be any other way. Just like the kettle cannot contain the steam, neither can we contain the good works that will begin to flow from us as a direct consequence of our increasing faith and love of God.
If we are not steaming, maybe we need to check that the kettle is plugged in and really on.