A Word in Season
Faith's Eyes See True Reality: Reflections from Chapter One of Lumen Fidei
In a powerful and personal way, God's love and promise shaped all of Abraham's reality. Moreover, Abraham discovers the depth of God's creative reality—all new life is not mere chance, but the fruit of God's love.
The Faith of Israel
Abraham's faith legacy continued in the faith of Israel.
The history of the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus follows in the wake of Abraham's faith. Faith once again is born of a primordial gift: Israel trusts in God, who promises to set his people free from their misery. Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey leading to worship of the Lord on Sinai and the inheritance of a promised land. God's love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way. (cf. Dt. 1:31) (LF, 12)
Lumen Fidei describes Israel's journey, as well as its detours. In Israel we also encounter faith's opposite: idolatry. God's covenant with beloved Israel was repeated broken by people lacking faith in God's faithfulness. Lack of faith equals a lack of light: Idolatry clouded Israel's vision leaving them without a roadmap to a clear destination. Their turning away from faith had repercussions—years of wandering both from God and the Promised Land.
Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Once man has lost the fundamental orientation which unifies his existence, he breaks down into the multiplicity of his desires; in refusing to await the time of promise, his life-story disintegrates into a myriad of unconnected instants. Idolatry, then, is always polytheism, an aimless passing from one lord to another. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. (LF 13)
Being on this side of history, we know that God is always faithful to his promises, and eventually, Israel gained the Promise Land.
Believing means entrusting oneself to a merciful love which always accepts and pardons, which sustains and directs our lives, and which shows its power by its ability to make straight the crooked lines of our history. Faith consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God's call. Herein lies the paradox: by constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the dissolution imposed upon us by idols. (LF 13)
In these Old Testament accounts of Abraham and Israel we glimpse what St. Augustine once observed regarding the two-way street of faithfulness.
Man is faithful when he believes in God and his promises; God is faithful when he grants to man what he has promised. (LF, 10)
The Fullness of Christian Faith
The first chapter of Lumen Fidei then brings us to Jesus Christ, the ultimate sign and guarantee of God's faithfulness.
All the threads of the Old Testament converge on Christ; he becomes the definitive "Yes" to all the promises, the ultimate basis of our "Amen" to God (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20). The history of Jesus 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)
Pat Gohn is a Catholic writer, speaker, and the host of the Among Women Podcast and blog. Her book Blessed, Beautiful and Bodacious: Celebrating the Gift of Catholic Womanhood is published by Ave Maria Press. Subscribe to “A Word in Season” via email or RSS.