Faith - our response to God's revelation
Faith we use in two ways, 'the Faith' meaning the things God has revealed and 'Our Faith' the way we respond to what God has revealed.
Date: 15 Dec 2019
We have looked at Revelation, how God makes himself known to us above all in Jesus Christ. We have looked at how we can be sure that what Jesus reveals is faithfully passed down to us through Scripture and tradition guaranteed by the Magisterium. Now the Catechism looks at Faith.
Faith we use in two ways, 'the Faith' meaning the things God has revealed and 'Our Faith' the way we respond to what God has revealed. It is with this second sense that we begin. Faith summed up and given most perfectly by Our Lady at the Annunciation in the words ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord’ is the loving response to what God reveals. Faith is an assent to everything God has revealed and a personal love of Him. This faith cannot be separated from faith in Jesus Christ who reveals the Father and in the Holy Spirit who makes Him known.
Faith is made possible by the gift of God and as an act of love, trust and recognition, it is a profoundly human act. Married love provides a help to understanding this - though whenever we use human examples to illustrate what we are saying they always fall short.
If you ask the husband who loves His wife why he loves her he can give various motives. She has a lovely smile, she is so trusting, she makes me laugh, she is so dedicated to the family, she is beautiful and many other reasons. But in the end the fundamental reason he will give is I love her because of who she is. It is her I love, a person who is essentially loveable. Indeed, he might say she gives me the strength to love her. Because of who she is - she makes my love possible and in loving her I find my completeness and my happiness. And because he loves her the husband will want to know as much about her as he can so he can love her more and understand what a loveable person she is.
In a similar way Faith trusts in the truth of God, revealed in Jesus it is God in whom we have faith, but signs of his works in creation, in the Church and in our lives provide motives for belief. Faith seeks to know more of God and of his creation, which incidentally is why science, the study of God's creation, can never be opposed to faith but can only compliment it. The source of this faith, God, is certain in a way that married love cannot be. Humans make mistakes, commit sins are less than perfect, but God cannot lie, cannot fail, cannot mislead, faith in God is certain because God is certain. Faith is a human act so it must be free and it demands perseverance, St James hints at this in the second reading. Think again of the example of married love. The wife makes her husband's love possible but she cannot force him to love her. It must be a free act and it will require constant expression and effort to live and grow. If he never speaks to her, never kisses her, doesn't worry about being faithful, makes no sacrifices for her, doesn't trust her - the love will die. Faith too must be part of our lives or it may die - people can lose the gift of faith. Faith is challenged in the world by sin and suffering, by laziness, ignorance and opposition, it must be cared for, expressed, renewed and lived and always it looks to its fulfilment in being with God for ever.
Faith in Jesus Christ and the one who sent him, in other words at the very least openness to the love of God who reveals himself in Jesus is necessary if we are to be saved. Faith is first of all personal, it is my free act, but it brings us into communion, into union with all those who have faith, that is with the Church. This is clear when we profess our faith during Mass. The creed, the I believe, uses words to express and communicate those things in which we have faith. In other words the Creed puts into words 'the faith' and by saying it together we witness to 'our faith'. In different times and cultures the Church has handed down and proclaimed this one Faith. The first creeds were used to profess the Christian faith at baptisms. The Nicene Creed which we often say at Mass dates from 325. However over the next few weeks we will use the Apostles Creed probably earlier than the Nicene creed but influenced by it, as a basis to examine ‘what we believe’ referring at times to the Nicene Creed.