Year of Faith – You were running well; who hindered you from following the truth? (Gal. 5:7)
You are separated from Christ, you who are trying to be justified by law; you have fallen from grace. For through the Spirit, by faith (emphasis mine) we await the hope of righteousness. For in Christ Jesus, neither circumcision nor uncircumcision counts for anything but only faith working through love. Gal. 5:4-6.
In our current times, one could very well expect some kind of retort to such a question or at least, a response like, "what business is it of yours?" In a way, there is some truth in the question posed. Why is it anyone's business to find out why another person has been hindered from the truth?
A partial answer lies in 1Thessalonians chapter 1:2-3 with the subtitle, Thanksgiving for Their Faith. It reads: "We give thanks to God always for all of you, remembering you in our prayers, unceasingly, calling to mind your work of faith and labor of love and endurance of hope of our Lord Jesus Christ …" The other half of the answer lies in each person's heart known only to God.
The Church teaches that faith is one of the three theological virtues that causes us to believe in God and all that he has said i.e. Sacred Scripture (CCC 1814). A good reading of the theological virtues is found in The Catechism of the Catholic Church (CCC par. 1812 – 1827); this can be located online. It is interesting to note that the fruits and gifts of the Spirit are discussed under the theological virtues .
Back to the question, why the Year of Faith and not the Year of Hope or Love? As the title of Pope Benedict XVI's Apostolic letter rightly states, it is the door that is freely opened for us by Christ's love and sacrifice which ushers us into communion and relationship with God and with one another. In order to enter someone's home, you may ring a doorbell and be ushered in (if you are welcome). In this case, the door of faith is open to all so that those of us who are weary from running, may find refuge and solace in the consolation that God does indeed see all and knows all. Those of us who have been turned off by the behavior of both clergy and laity may still find hope in the knowledge that faith is a gift freely given. Faith should not depend on the behavior of any given human being but rather on the love of Christ manifest in his ultimate sacrifice for us on that fateful Cross at Calvary. When faith is seen through the eyes of the Son of God who obeyed even unto death, then that passage in Dei Verbum becomes tangible and makes sense. That is why Dei Verbum talks about the "Obedience of Faith." This type of obedience is free assent to the truth; the truth that God is love and God dwells in us despite all that happens around us and despite how others choose to treat us. In the eyes of God each human being is unique and very special. What matters is indeed one's relationship with God because out of this relationship with God flows the fruits of the Holy Spirit (See Gal 5:22 – 23). Could this then be the reason that Paul gave his doxology on the mystery and revelation of Christ in Rom. 1:5 and 16: 25-26 both of which are quoted in Dei Verbum?
As we continue to navigate this Year of Faith, we may take some time to find out how well we were running in the past in order to figure out what our hindrances have been – things, people, views etc. There is a Ghanaian adage that says, "there is nothing wrong with going back to take that which worked and moving ahead with it" (Sankofa). If we indeed run well, in the past and we can figure out the causes of our hindrances, then we can very well make use of this Year of Faith and once more go through the door of faith, the open loving arms of Christ who welcomes all and revitalize our faith. Justification will not get us through that door due to our fallen nature, Grace is the key word and through Grace alone will we be able to acquire the faith needed to say with Thomas, "My Lord and My God!" It takes faith to overlook the pain and anguish caused by others whom we have trusted and to take the leap of faith to trust again and say yes to the Lord who calls us to a new evangelization. It takes faith to turn the other cheek and forgive so that you can move on to greater heights. Let's face it. You can decide to waddle in the circles of pity parties – quite a vicious circle and cycle because like a tornado it destroys everything in its path. On the other hand, forgiveness like a healing balm soothes the soul and reconnects it to the One source of grace who is God almighty, omnipotent and omniscient. Which will you choose? Faith working through love or … ?
Pope Benedict summed it up well, "Only through believing, then, does faith grow and become stronger; there is no other possibility for possessing certitude with regard to one's life apart from self-abandonment, in a continuous crescendo, into the hands of a love that seems to grow constantly because it has its origin in God (Porta Fidei, par. 7) "So faith, hope, love remain these three; but the greatest of these is love." 1 Cor. 13:13.
Dorothy Mensah-Aggrey, MA
Administrative Specialist-Curriculum Design & Adult Catechesis
University of Dayton
Institute for Pastoral Initiatives
Faith is not trying to believe something regardless of the evidence: faith is daring to do something regardless of the consequences. - Sherwood Eddy
All Scripture references are taken from The New American Version, Saint Joseph Edition (1991). Catholic Book Publishing Corporation: New York, NY.
Dogmatic Constitution on Divine Revelation (Dei Verbum), Pope Paul VI, Nov. 1965
Pope Benedict XVI. (2012). Porta Fidei: Apostolic Letter "Motu Proprio Data" The Door of Faith.
Note: This is a series of articles that will be published once a month during the Year of Faith taking a different perspective on the biblical aspects of the Year of Faith.
Original Release Date: Feb. 2013