Lumen Fidei Part 2

Picking up where part one left off…

Moses appears as an important mediator of faith

With this presence of a mediator in its midst, Israel learns to journey together in unity. The individual’s act of faith finds its place within a community, within the common “we” of the people who, in faith, are like a single person — “my first-born son”, as God would describe all of Israel (cf.   Ex   4: 22). Here mediation is not an obstacle, but an opening: through our encounter with others, our gaze rises to a truth greater than ourselves (LF 14).

As a mediator, Moses provides a focus for faith, uniting the people in a common faith and opening them to new possibilities.

Francis then moves on to discuss the “Fullness of the Christian Faith” which is revealed in Jesus.  While Abraham and others were saved through faith, the fullness of faith is manifested in Jesus which is the

complete manifestation of God’s reliability…   In the love of God revealed in Jesus, faith perceives the foundation on which all reality and its final destiny rest (LF 15).

This foundational reality is love which is expressed most fully in Jesus death for us.

The clearest proof of the reliability of Christ’s love is to be found in his dying for our sake… This love, which did not recoil before death in order to show its depth, is something I can believe in; Christ’s total self-gift overcomes every suspicion and enables me to entrust myself to him completely (LF 16).

This historical, empirical event makes faith tangible.  Christian faith is not faith in the abstract, instead it is faith in the concrete action of God:  past, present, and future.  Distinct from a cultural attitude which has lost its sense of God’s action,

Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection (LF 17 emphasis added).

Faith, born of the encounter with a loving God changes the way Christians see reality.  They see with the eyes of faith; a faith which sees with the eyes of Jesus.

Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them, with his own eyes: it is a participation in his way of seeing (LF 18).

This has implications for the way Christians live their lives.  When reality is seen through the eyes of faith it calls Christians to engage life at its profoundest level.

Far from divorcing us from reality, our faith in the Son of God made man in Jesus of Nazareth enables us to grasp reality’s deepest meaning and to see how much God loves this world and is constantly guiding it towards himself. This leads us, as Christians, to live our lives in this world with ever greater commitment and intensity (LF 18).

This new way of seeing also reveals the Christian’s (and indeed all creation’s) radical dependance on God’s foundational gift.  Everything is seen in the light of God’s gift.  This is salvation: knowing the gift of God in Jesus.

Salvation by faith means recognizing the primacy of God’s gift. As Saint Paul puts it: “By grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God” (Eph   2: 8) (LF 19)…  Faith’s new way of seeing things is centred on Christ. Faith in Christ brings salvation because in him our lives become radically open to a love that precedes us, a love that transforms us from within, acting in us and through us…  Faith knows that God has drawn close to us, that Christ has been given to us as a great gift which inwardly transforms us, dwells within us and thus bestows on us the light that illumines the origin and the end of life (LF 20).

Faith’s insight transforms the believer.  Everything is made new.  It also joins the believer to the church.

…just as Christ gathers to himself all those who believe and makes them his body, so the Christian comes to see himself as a member of this body, in an essential relationship with all other believers (LF 22)

Summarizing this first chapter the Pope writes,

Faith is not a private matter, a completely individualistic notion or a personal opinion: it comes from hearing, and it is meant to find expression in words and to be proclaimed. For “how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard? And how are they to hear without a preacher?” (Rom   10: 14). Faith becomes operative in the Christian on the basis of the gift received, the love which attracts our hearts to Christ (cf.   Gal   5: 6), and enables us to become part of the Church’s great pilgrimage through history until the end of the world. For those who have been transformed in this way, a new way of seeing opens up, faith becomes light for their eyes (LF 22).

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