The Christian faith, active in charity and strong in hope, does not limit but rather humanizes life, indeed, makes it fully human. Faith means taking this transforming message to heart in our life, receiving the revelation of God who makes us know that he exists, how he acts and what his plans for us are.
Of course, the mystery of God always remains beyond our conception and reason, our rites and our prayers. Yet, through his revelation, God actually communicates himself to us, recounts himself and makes himself accessible. And we are enabled to listen to his Word and to receive his truth. This, then, is the wonder of faith: God, in his love, creates within us — through the action of the Holy Spirit — the appropriate conditions for us to recognize his Word.
God himself, in his desire to show himself, to come into contact with us, to make himself present in our history, enables us to listen to and receive him. St Paul expresses it with joy and gratitude in these words: “And we also thank God constantly for this, that when you received the word of God which you heard from us, you accepted it not as the word of men but as what it really is, the word of God, which is at work in you believers” ( 1 Thess 2:13).
Reflection – The Pope is really a good teacher. We’ve gone in this general audience from an essential statement of what faith is—a living encounter with a Person—to the immediate effect this encounter has on us—humanizing our life by grounding it in the call and reality of love—and now to the heights this encounter makes possible for us—to really know who God is.
There is a post-modern despair that hangs around this subject that can be very hard to penetrate. ‘We just can’t know!’ is the cry, either of exasperation or sorrow, on so many lips. God is up there, out there, over there, nowhere, or somewhere else anyhow, and everyone has wildly different opinions about the matter, and so who can say that their version of God is the true one? Isn’t it the height of arrogance to do so?
In response, it must be noted that any position taken on the subject is a judgment that could be accused of arrogance. To say ‘we cannot know’ is just a much of a sweeping judgment on the subject of God as to say ‘Jesus Christ is the Son of God who reveals the truth of God to us.’
In fact, it’s even more arrogant, if you will. When I say that I believe Jesus is the one who reveals God to us, I am locating the definitive authority and source of that truth outside of myself. The post-moderns who breezily dismiss not only Christianity but every other serious religious tradition, at least insofar as truth claims go (and, let’s face it, 90% of such post-moderns do this without having made a serious examination of the contents of the various world faiths), accepts no authority but their own.
Meanwhile, all sorts of people in our post-modern world still find their way to Christian faith, find the truth of God in the person and revelation of Jesus Christ. It is one of the great joys and awesome wonders of life in Madonna House that we get to be part of that discovery, that journey, that coming to faith of so many people. Young people come here from all over the world and mysteriously encounter this God, this Christ, this truth.
It is a great mystery to us. We’re all such ordinary people at MH—no great geniuses or charismatic super-stars among us, really—but we see nonetheless, over and over again, that God is waiting for people here, and is pleased to show Himself to them in this hidden little Ottawa Valley house.
Hey, here’s an idea for the Year of Faith! Come to be a guest at Madonna House! If you’re in reasonably good health (our life is pretty demanding physically), you are welcome, for a week, two weeks, longer. It’s a good place to come and touch God, hear God, meet God, and be transformed by God’s love, light, and life. Welcome!