Deacon Lincoln’s Log 3-26-17

Image from Pixabay“When Jesus heard that they had thrown him [the man born blind] out, he found him and said, ‘Do you believe in the Son of Man?’ He answered and said, ‘Who is he, sir, that I may believe in him?’ Jesus said to him, ‘You have seen him, and the one speaking with you is he.’ He said, ‘I do believe, Lord,’ and he worshiped him.”
Jn. 9:35-38

Faith is a gift.

The story of the man born blind, at its roots, is a story of coming to faith. At the beginning of the story, the man cannot see. Jesus heals his physical blindness which begins the process of healing a deeper blindness. As the blind man encounters persecution, he comes to see who Jesus really is. First, he sees Jesus as a healer, then a prophet, and finally, when Jesus reveals Himself, as the promised Son of Man. The Lord has healed his “inner eye.”

The man who was blind can now see with the eyes of faith.

The Pharisees follow the opposite path. They begin physically able to see. But as the story progresses they reveal the blindness of their own “inner eye.” A miracle has happened, yet they cannot recognize it for what it is. Nor can they recognize Jesus for who He is. No proof is enough for them because they lack faith. Any explanation will do except the recognition that Jesus is the Son of Man who has been promised. They will continue to persecute those who see what they cannot. Their faith is dead even though Jesus is standing right in front of them.

During lent, we are called to deepen our faith. Jesus reveals Himself to us in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments. Indeed, our entire lives can open us to believe in Jesus. We pray that our “inner eye” will be opened and Jesus will reveal Himself to us in new ways.

Beg the Lord for the gift of faith. He will empower you to believe. Like the man born blind, it may take adversity to open our “inner eye” to see the truth of who Jesus is. If we persevere, we will see.

Peace,

Dcn. Lincoln A. Wood

 

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Spiritual Senses – Lumen Fidei 5

Picking up with the third section of Chapter 2….

Chapter two of the encyclical is divided into six sections.

  • Faith and Truth (23-25)
  • Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)
  • Faith as hearing and sight (29-31)
  • The dialogue of faith and reason (32-34)
  • Faith and the search for God (35)
  • Faith and theology (36)

Faith as hearing and sight (29-31)

Summary

“Faith comes from hearing” (Rom 10:17).  Faith, and the knowledge born of faith is personal.

it recognizes the voice of the one speaking, opens up to that person in freedom and follows him or her in obedience (29).

Thinking of faith as hearing emphasizes the fact that faith unfolds in time.

This has a different emphasis than thinking of faith as seeing which provides a comprehensive picture all at once.

Hearing emphasizes personal vocation and obedience, and the fact that truth is revealed in time. Sight provides a vision of the entire journey and allows it to be situated within God’s overall plan… (29).

Ultimately, faith as hearing and seeing becomes united in the person of Jesus.

How does one attain this synthesis between hearing and seeing? It becomes possible through the person of Christ himself, who can be seen and heard (30).

This focus on the person of Jesus moves us outside of ourselves.

This means that faith-knowledge does not direct our gaze to a purely inward truth. The truth which faith discloses to us is a truth centred on an encounter with Christ, on the contemplation of his life and on the awareness of his presence (30).

Beyond conceiving faith as hearing and sight, faith can also be understood as touch.

Saint John can speak of faith as touch, as he says in his First Letter: “What we have heard, what we have seen with our eyes and touched with our hands, concerning the word of life” (1 Jn1: 1)…

Saint Augustine, commenting on the account of the woman suffering from haemorrhages who touched Jesus and was cured (cf.   Lk   8: 45-46), says: “To touch him with our hearts: that is what it means to believe” (31 emphasis added).

Christian faith is fundamentally incarnational.

Reflection

As a kid I was fascinated by ESP, telepathy and other psychic phenomenon.  This section of Lumen Fidei explores faith from the perspective of “spiritual senses.”  Just as we have physical senses, we have spiritual senses.  These spiritual senses play a vital role in our faith because they put us in contact with Jesus.

Our eyes connect us with the physical world around us, so our spiritual eyes connect us with the spiritual world around us.  The same is true for our spiritual ears, hands, maybe even noses.  Saint Benedict exhorts his monks to “Listen with the ear of the heart.”  And St. Augustine sees the spiritual journey as “healing the eyes of the heart” (5).

Pope Francis comes from this tradition when he writes of faith as a form of hearing, sight, or touch.  (He could also have included the senses of smell and taste, I suppose).  Using the analogy of senses to describe faith helps us to understand the various ways faith is experienced.  The experience of faith is multi-dimensional.  Examining the reality of faith through the analogy of our senses enriches our experience.

All of this discussion of “spiritual senses” only makes sense due to the incarnation.  Senses put us in touch with something outside ourselves.  Faith puts us in touch with Jesus.  Sometimes, through faith, we hear Jesus voice.  Sometimes we see his face.  Sometimes we feel his healing touch.  Exploring our faith through the lens of spiritual senses can lead us to a deeper, richer, more complete experience of Jesus.

To think about…

  1. How is your faith like hearing, seeing, or touching?  Which “spiritual sense” do you utilize the most?

Lumen Fidei Part 4 (Chapter 2)

Picking up with the second section of Chapter 2….

Chapter two of the encyclical is divided into six sections.

  • Faith and Truth (23-25)
  • Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)
  • Faith as hearing and sight (29-31)
  • The dialogue of faith and reason (32-34)
  • Faith and the search for God (35)
  • Faith and theology (36)

Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)

Faith and knowledge of the truth are linked through the heart.  “One believes with the heart” (Rom. 10:10).

the heart is the core of the human person, where all his or her different dimensions intersect: body and spirit, interiority and openness to the world and to others, intellect, will and affectivity (26).

It is faith’s connection to love that opens it to truth.

Faith knows because it is tied to love, because love itself brings enlightenment. Faith’s understanding is born when we receive the immense love of God which transforms us inwardly and enables us to see reality with new eyes (26).

This love is more than emotion.  It is a love that “aims at union with the beloved” (27).  Therefore it is a love grounded in truth.  We can only attain union with the beloved when we know the beloved.

Because it is born of love, the knowledge of faith is primarily relational.

It is a relational way of viewing the world, which then becomes a form of shared knowledge, vision through the eyes of another and a shared vision of all that exists (27).

Faith-knowledge is rooted in God’s covenant with his people.  It is born from a trust in God’s fidelity.  God has been faithful in the past.  He will be faithful now and in the future.

Faith-knowledge, because it is born of God’s covenantal love, is knowledge which lights up a path in history… the true God is the God of fidelity who keeps his promises and makes possible, in time, a deeper understanding of his plan (28).

Because, in faith, we are aware of God’s love for us, his plan becomes clearer and clarifies all of history.

Faith-knowledge sheds light [on] …the entire history of the created world, from its origins to its consummation (28).

Continue reading

Lumen Fidei Part 3 (Chapter 2)

I realize I got a bit too detailed in parts 1 and 2 of this discussion of Lumen fidei.  I’ll keep it shorter and more focused this time….

Chapter two of the encyclical is divided into six sections.

  • Faith and Truth (23-25)
  • Knowledge of the truth and love (26-28)
  • Faith as hearing and sight (29-31)
  • The dialogue of faith and reason (32-34)
  • Faith and the search for God (35)
  • Faith and theology (36)

Faith and Truth

This chapter begins with a discussion of Is 7:9 and the understanding presented there of faith as standing fast.

The prophet [Isaiah] tells him [Ahaz] … to trust completely in the solid and steadfast rock which is the God of Israel (23).

This challenge to trust in God’s plans for His people reveals a connection between faith and truth.  God has the power to

hold together times and ages, and to gather into one the scattered strands of our lives (23).

Recognizing and trusting this power of God (faith)  gives believers a place to stand.   It is certain knowledge (truth) which provides the needed foundation to move forward.  This knowledge is not a mere feeling, nor is it technical know-how, nor is it my own personal truth (as real as that may be).  This knowledge is a profound awareness of the power of God guiding creation to its fulfillment which gives purpose and meaning to everything.

It is a question about the origin of all that is, in whose light we can glimpse the goal and thus the meaning of our common path.

 

Deacon Lincoln’s Log 7-28-13

[In the Our Father] Christians learn to share in Christ’s own spiritual experience and to see all things through his eyes. From him who is light from light, the only-begotten Son of the Father, we come to know God and can thus kindle in others the desire to draw near to him.
 Pope Francis Lumen Fidei – Light of the Faith

This week’s readings, at first glance, seem to be about changing God’s mind.

  • God wants to destroy Sodom, and Abraham appears to talk him out of it (Gen. 18:20-32).
  • The friend gives in to his neighbor’s demands because of his persistence (Lk. 11: 5-8).

These readings seem to be saying that if we pray hard enough or persistently enough or in the right way, God will give us what we ask.

But I think that misses the point. The purpose of prayer isn’t to change God’s mind. The purpose of prayer is to change us. It changes the way we see everything. Christian prayer enables us to experience God the way Jesus experienced God. The one who prays persistently sees the world with new eyes… with the eyes of Jesus.

Our image of God changes. We begin to understand that God is not a God of vengeance. He is not a God who wants to destroy (“For the sake of those ten, I will not destroy it.”).

Instead, God is a loving Father (“Our Father”) who will give us more than we can imagine. When our prayers are small and trite (we ask for a “fish” or an “egg” (Cf. Lk. 11:11-12)), God gives us the Holy Spirit!

Through our persistent prayer, may the Holy Spirit flow into our hearts and teach us to see with the eyes of faith.

Peace,

Lincoln A. Wood

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).