Pope Calls Us All To Live Our Lives By Faith and Not Be Afraid to Go Against the Tide
The Christian should not be afraid to go against the grain to live his or her faith, resisting the temptation to conform.
It is the blessed world of faith to which we are all called, to walk without fear following the Lord Jesus Christ. And sometimes it is difficult journey, one that even knows trial and death, but one that is open to life, in a radical transformation of reality that only the eyes of faith can see and enjoy in abundance.
VATICAN CITY (Catholic Online) - We present the official Vatican Translation of Pope Benedict's Wednesday Catechetical teaching to the Pilgrims who gathered in St. Peter's Square in its entirety below:
Dear Brothers and Sisters,
In this Year of the faith, I would like to start today to reflect with you on the Creed, the solemn profession of faith which accompanies our lives as believers. The Creed begins, "I believe in God." It is a fundamental affirmation, deceptively simple in its essence, but which opens the infinite world of our relationship with the Lord and with His mystery.
Believing in God implies attachment to him, welcoming his Word and joyful obedience to His revelation. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church teaches us, "Faith is a personal act - the free response of the human person to the initiative of God who reveals himself" (n. 166).
Being able to say that we believe in God is therefore both a gift and a commitment, it is divine grace and human responsibility, in an experience of dialogue with God who, out of love, "speaks to men as friends" (Dei Verbum, 2), speaks to us so that, in faith and with faith, we enter into communion with Him.
Where can we hear God speaking to us? Holy Scripture is fundamental, in which the Word of God becomes audible for us and nourishes our life as "friends" of God. The entire Bible recounts God's revelation to humanity, the entire Bible speaks of faith and teaches us faith by telling a story in which God carries out His plan of redemption and makes Himself close to man, through many luminous figures of people who believe in Him and trust Him, to the fullness of the revelation of the Lord Jesus.
In this regard, chapter 11 of the Letter to the Hebrews is most beautiful, which speaks of faith and highlights the great biblical figures who lived and became a model for all believers: "Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen"(11.1). The eyes of faith are thus able to see the unseen and the heart of the believer can hope beyond all hope, just as Abraham, who Paul says in Romans "believed, hoping against hope" (4.18 ).
In fact I would like to focus my attention on Abraham, because he is the first major reference point when speaking about faith in God, the great patriarch Abraham, role model, father of all believers (cf. Rom 4.11 to 12 ). The Letter to the Hebrews presents him as follows:
"By faith Abraham obeyed when he was called to go out to a place that he was to receive as an inheritance; he went out, not knowing where he was to go. By faith he sojourned in the promised land as in a foreign country, dwelling in tents with Isaac and Jacob, heirs of the same promise; for he was looking forward to the city with foundations, whose architect and maker is God"(11.8 to 10).
The author of Hebrews refers here to the call of Abraham, narrated in the Book of Genesis. What does God ask of this great patriarch? He asks him to leave, abandoning his country and to go to the country that He will show him, "Go forth from your land, your relatives, and from your father's house to a land that I will show you" (Gen 12:1). How would we respond to an invitation like that? It is, in fact, a departure in the dark, not knowing where God will lead him, it is a journey that calls for obedience and radical trust, which only faith can access.
But the darkness of the unknown is illuminated by the light of a promise: God adds a reassuring word to His command that opens a future of life in its fullness to Abraham: "I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you; I will make your name great; ... All the families of the earth will find blessing in you"(Gen 12,2.3).
The blessing in Holy Scripture, is related primarily to the gift of life that comes from God, and manifests itself primarily in fertility, in a life that is multiplied, passing from generation to generation. And the blessing is also connected to the experience of owning a land, a stable place to live and grow in freedom and security, fearing God and building a society of men loyal to the Alliance, "a kingdom of priests and a holy nation" (cf. Ex 19:6).
So Abraham, in the divine plan, is destined to become the "father of a multitude of nations" (Gen 17.5; cf. Rom 4:17-18) and to enter into a new land to live. But Sara, his wife, is sterile, unable to have children, and the country to which God leads him far from his native land, is already inhabited by other peoples, and will never really belong to them. The biblical narrator emphasizes this, although very discreetly: When Abraham arrived in the place of God's promise: "the Canaanites were then in the land" (Gen 12:6).
The land that God gives to Abraham does not belong to him, he is a stranger and will remain so forever, with all that this entails: having no intentions of possession, always averting their poverty, ...
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