Last night I gave the opening session for this year’s Lenten Mission at our Cathedral. I was asked to speak on Faith. Even though this post is simply notes and thoughts, you may find it helpful to reflect upon some of these scriptures.
Other than the few quotes from Pope-Emeritus, Benedict XVI, the vast majority of this came from a book by Blessed Columba Marmion, OSB; Christ, The Life Of The Soul.
FAITH = I BELIEVE = CREED
There is the content of Faith, and there is Faith, the ability to believe in Christ, His Church, Dogma, Scripture, Tradition. I will reflect more on our Faith as belief in Jesus Christ and His Divinity.
Galatians 2:19b-20: “I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me.”
I had a profound experience as a priest and pastor of coming to experience what St. Paul is speaking of in this passage. There was a conscious realization of how Christ was living in me and through me and my life as a priest. This passage from St. Paul was the first passage I looked up for this reflection on faith because it spoke so strongly of my experience as a priest and pastor, and even more so now as a bishop.
Hebrews 10:36 “You need endurance to do the will of God and receive what he has promised.” See also Hebrews 10:37-38; Romans 1:17; Galatians 3:11
Hebrews 11: 1-3 “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen. Because of it the ancients were well attested. By faith we understand that the universe was ordered by the word of God, so that what is visible came into being through the invisible. V. 6 But without faith it is impossible to please him [God], for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.”
It is so important for us to have a knowledge and sense of the history of salvation. Our awareness of how God has been present and active throughout salvation history not only strengthens our hope that He is still present and active today, but also gives us the faith to be constantly seeking to cooperate with the same providence and power of God at work today.
“Believing adherence to the Gospel impresses on charity its specifically Christian form and constitutes the principle of its discernment. Christians, in particular those who work in charities, must allow themselves to be guided by the principles of faith, through which we adhere to the “God’s point of view”, to his plan for each one of us. (Caritas in Veritate, n. 1) This new outlook on the world and on man offered by faith also provides the correct criterion for evaluating for expressions of charity in today’s context.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Jan 18, 2013; to the Pontifical Council Cor Unum)
I chose this passage because it gives a new perspective of faith: “believing adherence to the Gospel.”
Pope Benedict XVI Epiphany Homily 2013: “Faith draws us into a state of being seized by the restlessness of God and it makes us pilgrims who are on an inner journey toward the true king of the world and his promise of justice, truth and love. On this pilgrimage the bishop must go ahead, he must be the guide pointing out to men and women the way to faith, hope and love.”
Faith’s inner pilgrimage toward God occurs above all in prayer. If faith is about being seized by the restlessness of God, if it is about the longing of the human heart that is constantly seeking the face of God, then prayer is vital to our faith life.
“solemn profession of faith, come from the Nicene-Constantinopolitan creed, the synthesis of the Church’s faith that each of us receives at baptism. Only by professing and preserving this rule of truth intact can we be authentic disciples of the Lord.” (Pope Benedict XVI November 2012 Consistory)
“Jesus sends his Church not to a single group, then, but to the whole human race, and thus he unites it, in faith, in one people, in order to save it.” (Pope Benedict XVI, Nov. 2012 Consistory)
In our lived experience, we know we are not Jesus, we know we are not God. We are solely human. However, we also have a soul, which is a spark of the Divine presence within us. We also have the presence of Christ through the Sacraments. Christ also promised that we would share in His Holy Spirit, who would lead us to all truth. (John 17) To share in these gifts is to share in the infinite goodness and presence of God. Faith in the power of God working in us through these gifts is what we are called to live.
Hebrews 13:8 “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever.” In other words, the historical Jesus who lived and ministered, died and rose in his public ministry is the same Jesus who lives and moves and breathes through his Church today. The Jesus people came to believe in as the Son of God during his earthly life is the same Jesus we come to know and believe in through the Church today.
“It is good and consoling for our souls to remain united with our Lord by contact through faith. The foundation of the entire spiritual edifice of our life is faith in Christ; faith in his Divinity.” Abbot Marmion (p. 132)
Augustine: He touches Christ who believes in Christ!
For example, we can say, and have a real experience in these days, that to pray is to draw near to the Cardinals as they prepare to elect a new Pope. This is the same concept we are speaking of with regard to faith as a means of ‘drawing near to’ or ‘touching’ Jesus.
The people who came to Jesus and were cured – were healed through faith. For many others, the work, preaching and healing of Jesus were the signs that led to faith. Such is the story of the royal official who came to Jesus in Cana. (John 4) The royal official’s son was near death in Capernaum, and he asked Jesus to come and heal him. Jesus simply told the man: “Go, your son will live.” The man believed what Jesus said to him and left.” (John 4:46-54)
The people of Jesus’ time were able to see Jesus’ Divinity – power – life – hidden in His Humanity.
We, too, are called to such faith.
Jesus’ Divinity hidden in His humanity (Divine Person – 2 natures)
We at times are tempted to think – if only I had been with Him in His earthy life – if only I could gaze upon him – if only I could touch him.
See John 20:29 Jesus with St. Thomas: “Blessed are those who have not seen and believe.” Jesus is telling Thomas that his belief was rooted in his ability to ‘see for himself.’ Jesus tells us that we are blessed for believing in him, and not having been able to see with our own eyes. Indeed, faith is believing in what is not seen.
St. John tells us that all who have faith in Jesus Christ are made children of God. St.Paul in his letter to the Galatians says the same: (Galatians 3:26) “through faith you are all children of God through Jesus Christ.”
Abbot Marmion, p. 133: “Because by faith in the divinity of Jesus Christ, we identify ourselves with Him: we accept Him as the Son of God and the Incarnate Word. Faith yields us to Christ: and Christ, introducing us into the supernatural domain, yields us to His Father. And the more perfect, profound, ardent and constant our faith is in Christ’s Divinity, the more right we have, as children of god, to the communication of Divine life. In receiving Christ by faith, we become by grace what He is by nature – children of God; and then our state calls forth an influx of divine life from the Heavenly Father.”
“Faith is the very first attitude we must have in our relations with God.” (p. 133)
Hebrews 11:6 “without faith it is impossible to please God.”
Miracles through faith in Jesus (see Mt 9:27-30, Mt 8: 1-13, Mark 5:25-34, John 11:27)
Limited faith prevents Jesus’ action: (Mt 13:58, Lk 7:1-10, Luke 8:50)
Is faith alone sufficient? NO
“the sacraments and the observance of the commandments are necessary too, but a man who does not believe in the Divinity of Jesus Christ is a stranger to his commandments and sacraments. Faith is the basis of our supernatural life.” [p 137]
[p 139] “During the mortal life of Jesus, His Divinity was hidden under the veil of His Humanity; even for those who lived with Him, His Divinity was an object of faith.”
John 6:29 “This is the work of God, that you believe in the one he sent.”
Let us live as the Children of God, made so by Jesus Christ. Let us live lives that are holy and pleasing in the sight of God. Let us live our faith as witnesses to Christ, that all others may come to know and believe in Him, and know the life that is eternal, and only possible by faith in Jesus Christ.