Of course, this adherence to God is not without content; with it we are aware that God has shown himself to us in Christ, he has made us see his face and has made himself really close to each one of us. Indeed, God has revealed that his love for man, for each one of us, is boundless: on the Cross, Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God made man, shows us in the clearest possible way how far this love reaches, even to the gift of himself, even to the supreme sacrifice. With the mystery of Christ’s death and Resurrection, God plumbs to the depths of our humanity to bring it back to him, to uplift it to his heights. Faith is believing in this love of God that is never lacking in the face of human wickedness, in the face of evil and death, but is capable of transforming every kind of slavery, giving us the possibility of salvation. Having faith, then, is meeting this “You”, God, who supports me and grants me the promise of an indestructible love that not only aspires to eternity but gives it; it means entrusting myself to God with the attitude of a child, who knows well that all his difficulties, all his problems are understood in the “you” of his mother. And this possibility of salvation through faith is a gift that God offers all men and women.
24 October 2012
Reflection – Running through all the Pope’s writings and talks about the Year of Faith has been this recurring theme of the relationship between the act of faith (joyful entrustment to God) and the content of faith (the Creed, the doctrines of the Church.) I think here he draws the connections very well.
It is precisely the contents of our faith that give us bold confidence to entrust ourselves to this God of ours. Because God in Christ became a man, he understands our human condition. Because God in Christ died for us, we can begin to believe in the depths of his love. Because God in Christ rose from the dead, we can confidently lay our lives before Him, knowing that He will work this same gift of life and victory in us.
Because Christ ascended into heaven, we know that this man Jesus is present everywhere, has broken the bonds of time and space to ascend to the divine sphere. We also know that He holds out for us the promise of this same transcendent ascent. Because God in Christ sent the Holy Spirit, we know that the power of God has been given to us to follow Him and live His love in our lives.
All this—which is the core content of our Christian faith—directly and immediately leads to our being able to make the deep act of faith, which is to wholly entrust our lives to this God and to do whatever He tells us. To live the ethos of the Gospel, an ethos of sacrificial love and utter generosity. To stay united with the Church he established to be his sign of communion and channel of grace in the world. To constantly seek him in prayer and serve him in our neighbour.
All of this is really hard to do much of the time. If the contents of our faith are not really true, if Jesus is not really God, did not really die, really rise, really ascend, and really give us his Spirit, then why would we bother, or how could we even think, of doing all this hard stuff he asks us to do?So the content of our faith directly and essentially relates to the path of faith, the life of faith.
Furthermore, the contents of our faith make the living of our faith a joyful thing, a beautiful thing.
We can just go through life gritting our teeth and white-knuckling it in terms of trying to do what is right and just. There are times when that may indeed be all we can do. But God wants it to be a little better than that for us. He does want us to have joy in the battle, to see the beauty of the Gospel and communicate it to others. And it is a firm and solid, deep and penetrating grasp and being grasped by the truths, the dogmas, the creedal statements of our Christian faith that sets us on a path of joy and beauty.
He has come. He is risen. His Spirit is moving in our hearts. The battle is won. Victory is ours. A great alleluia is rising up from earth to heaven, and a greater yet amen is resounding from heaven to earth. It is all true, and so we can know a measure of joy and peace even in the present state of struggle and travail. Amen, alleluia.