We hear a prayer today that is included in Paul’s letter to the Ephesians. Paul kneels before the Father and prays for the Ephesians. He prays that Christ may dwell in their hearts in their faith. Faith is indeed a gift, and I thank God for the faith that I have in my heart through his grace. We seem to live in a world where faith is suspect or mocked or questioned. But the faith that we have in Christ, a faith that we have in our hearts, is indeed a faith to be cherished.
I was driving to my mass in Belzoni through the heart of the farmland of the Mississippi Delta. Much of the cotton crop has been harvested. Some huge cubes of cotton are all bundled up on the side of the fields. The air was rather crisp and clear this afternoon. The rich Delta farmland stretched as far as the eye could see. This is not a big city, urban area. This is not an area teeming with shopping malls or factories or sprawling suburbs. In fact, Humphreys county, where my parish in Belzoni is located, has the highest rate of child poverty and the lowest median family income of any county in the United States, according to one study I recently read. There is not even one gas station in the 27-mile stretch between my parish in Yazoo City and my parish in Belzoni. Yet, even as I am so aware of our problems and struggles to make it in the Mississippi Delta, I could not help but think of the goodness of the Lord, as the psalmist declares today. And it takes faith to see God’s goodness in the midst of the crime, violence, and economic stagnation that plague this part of the country. Yet, God’s goodness is here. And I see that goodness through my eyes of faith.