Today I would like to take another step in our reflection, starting once more with a few questions: Does faith have a solely personal, individual nature? Does it concern only myself? Do I live my faith alone? Of course, the act of faith is an eminently personal act; it happens in the deepest part of us and signals a change in direction through personal conversion. It is my life that changes, that is given a new direction.
In the Rite of Baptism, at the moment of the promises, the celebrant asks for a profession of the Catholic faith and formulates three questions: Do you believe in God the Father Almighty? Do you believe in Jesus Christ his only Son? Do you believe in the Holy Spirit? In ancient times these questions were addressed to the person who was to receive Baptism before being immersed three times in water. And today, too, the answer is one and the same: “I do”.
But this faith of mine is not the result of my own solitary reflection, it is not the product of my thought, it is the fruit of a relationship, a dialogue, in which there is a listener, a receiver and a respondent; it is communication with Jesus that draws me out of the “I” enclosed in myself to open me to the love of God, the Father. It is like a rebirth in which I am united not only to Jesus, but also to all those who have walked and are walking on the same path; and this new birth, that begins with Baptism, continues for the rest of my life.
I cannot build my personal faith in a private dialogue with Jesus, because faith is given to me by God through a community of believers that is the Church and projects me into the multitude of believers, into a kind of communion that is not only sociological but rooted in the eternal love of God who is in himself the communion of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, it is Trinitarian Love. Our faith is truly personal, only if it is also communal: it can be my faith only if it dwells in and moves with the “we” of the Church, only if it is our faith, the common faith of the one Church.
31 October 2012
Reflection – I’m committed to a time-sensitive project tomorrow, so am posting tomorrow’s blog post this evening. You know, we see here in this beautiful general audience talk a whole Christian anthropology emerging. A whole vision of the human person that flows from the revelation of God in Jesus Christ – what I’ve been blogging about all week as I made my way through one of the central texts of that revelation, the Lord’s prayer.
It is this encounter of the individual and the other, the subject with the Subject, which occurs in harmony and a real unity with the encounter of person with community. We are individuals; I am a person, with my freedom, my intellect, my own self-determined being. This is precious, real. When this is violated, it is one form or another of abuse—physical, emotional, verbal.
But this person does exist only through the actions of others. God, but also mom and dad. God, but also the society that shaped me, the civilization that maintains much of my life in existence. The strong atomic individual living off the grid and dependent on no one for anything is a myth. Even the most un-gridded people still have some dependence, some involvement in the lives of others, some reliance on their fellow man.
And God… this is the whole anthropology of Christ. We come from Another and our lives are in and for and towards this other. And this is not some horrible turn of events, some degrading slavery, some terrible oppressive tyranny. It is love, and communion, and this is where joy and peace lie.
And it is all deeply connected with the Church and our communion with and in the Church. Love one another, for love comes from God, and he who abides in love abides in God and God in Him.
I’m out of room, since Pope Benedict’s quote is a bit longer than normal – I’m also out of time, since supper at MH is about to begin, and I must be off to it. We are made for communion—this is the whole of our faith, ultimately. Communion with God, and from and in that, with one another.
Back with more on Friday, God willing.