Pope Calls Us All To Live Our Lives By Faith and Not Be Afraid to Go Against the Tide
seeing everything as a gift. This is also the spiritual condition of those who agree to follow the Lord, who decide to leave, accepting His call, under the sign of His invisible but powerful blessing. And Abraham, the "father of believers," accepted this call, in the faith.
St. Paul writes in his Letter to the Romans: "He believed, hoping against hope, that he would become "the father of many nations," according to what was said, "Thus shall your descendants be." He did not weaken in faith when he considered his own body as [already] dead (for he was almost a hundred years old) and the dead womb of Sarah. 20He did not doubt God's promise in unbelief; rather, he was empowered by faith and gave glory to God 21and was fully convinced that what he had promised he was also able to do"(Rom 4.18 to 21).
Faith leads Abraham to on a paradoxical journey. He will be blessed, but without the visible signs of blessing: he is promised he will become a great nation, but with a life marked by the barrenness of Sarah his wife; he is brought to a new home but will have to live there as a foreigner, and the only possession of the land that he will be allowed will be that of a piece of land in which to bury Sarah (cf. Gen 23.1 to 20). Abraham was blessed because, in faith, he was able to discern the divine blessing going beyond appearances, trusting in God's presence even when His ways appear mysterious to him.
What does this mean for us? When we say, "I believe in God," we say, like Abraham: "I trust you, I entrust myself to You, Lord," but not as Someone to run to only in times of difficulty or to whom to dedicate a few moments of the day or of the week. Saying "I believe in God" means grounding my life in Him, letting His Word guide each day, in the concrete choices without fear of losing something of myself.
When, in the Rite of Baptism, we are asked three times: "Do you believe?" In God, in Jesus Christ, in the Holy Spirit, the Holy Catholic Church and the other truths of faith, the triple response is in the singular: "I believe," because it is my personal existence that reaches a turning point with the gift of faith, it is my life that must change, convert. Each time we participate in a Baptism we should ask ourselves how we live the great gift of faith every day.
Abraham, the believer, teaches us faith, and, as a stranger on earth, shows us the true homeland. Faith makes us pilgrims on earth, inserted into the world and history, but on the way to the heavenly homeland. Believing in God makes us carries of values which often do not coincide with the prevailing fashion and opinion, it requires us to adopt criteria and a conduct which do not belong to the common way of thinking.
The Christian should not be afraid to go "against the grain" to live his or her faith, resisting the temptation to "conform". In many societies God has become the "great absentee" and there are many and diverse idols now in His place, above all possesion. And also the significant and positive progress in science and technology have created in humans an illusion of omnipotence and self-sufficiency, and a growing self-centeredness, which has created many imbalances within relationships and social behaviours.
And yet, the thirst for God (cf. Ps 63.2) has not been extinguished and the Gospel message continues to resonate through the words and deeds of many men and women of faith. Abraham, the father of believers, continues to be the father of many children who are willing to walk in his footsteps and set out in obedience to the divine call, trusting in the benevolent presence of the Lord and accepting His blessing to be a blessing for all.
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.
Saying "I believe in God" leads us, then, to set out, to continually go beyond ourselves, just as Abraham, to bring the certainty that comes from faith: the certainty into our daily reality, that is, the presence of God in history, even today, a presence that brings life and salvation, and opens us to a future with Him for a fullness of life without sunset.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Faith, Abraham, living by faith, counterculture, holiness, year of faith, Pope Benedict XVI
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