Each issue carries an imprimatur from
the Archdiocese of Cincinnati. Reprinting prohibited
Faith in a Self-revealing God
Blessed are we! But first, blessed be God!
During my dad’s final years of life, he was unable
to communicate through the gift of voice. Dad was a
victim of Alzheimer’s disease; his final vocal expressions
became repetitious and were freely proclaimed
to anyone who would listen.
His words, predictable and perhaps monotonous
to the untrained ear, were a treasure to our family.
They disappeared when the power of voice suddenly
departed a few years before Dad died. Family members
(especially my mother), already Dad’s advocates,
now became Dad’s voice in new and distinctive ways.
His own voice was gone but Dad—child of God—
I am convinced that Dad communicated during
his last years through the gift of his eyes. On the day
he died, his eyes scanned the room where he lay,
focusing intently on each of the family members gathered
around his bed. Even in the moments leading up
to physical death, he continued to “speak” to us. He
continued to proclaim the goodness of God. Blessed
were we! Blessed be God!
God’s yearning for us
Faith in a self-revealing God is faith that enables us to
proclaim in word and action, in thought and look, in
gospel and glance, the goodness of God. Such faith
enables us to communicate by speaking up for one
another as fellow disciples with shared beliefs. Whatever
our life circumstances and whatever misgivings we
may harbor or judgments we may have made about faith, God or family, we can remain confident
in hope and in faith. Faith in a
self-revealing God is actually faith in a
God who calls and who yearns for our
God’s love for us runs so immeasurably
deep that he becomes one with
us in Christ Jesus. This is a saving
love, a liberating love, a “yes” to a love
that will never end. This loving God
and Father of all offers us the irresistible
opportunity to explore faith, to
explain faith and, even more, to
embrace and live faith.
Within God’s reach
Nurtured by the gift of God’s revelation
in Sacred Scripture and Sacred Tradition,
we come to see who we are spiritually
as we reach out to others.
Sacred Tradition has to do with
the wealth of the Church’s “doctrine,
life and worship” (Dei Verbum) handed
on in life, faith and belief over the
centuries. Sacred Scripture, “truly the
Word and work of God” (U.S. Catholic
Catechism for Adults, p. 27), offers us both the promise and the presence of
God as we enter familiar yet ever-new
doorways for exploring life with God
and with one another.
We affirm the reality that “both
the living Tradition and the written
Scriptures have their common source
in the revelation of God in Jesus
p. 25). Our faith is a
living faith, enabling us to embrace
ever more vigorously the living word
of God in our lives.
“God is love,” Pope Benedict tells us in his first encyclical as he echoes
the familiar words from the First Letter
of John. No person is unworthy of the
proclamation of God’s love and the
truth we share in Christ. The new U.S.
Catechism reminds us that “all the
faithful share in understanding and
handing on revealed truth” (p. 25). No
person is unworthy of God’s redeeming
gift of new life in the Risen One. No
one among all 6.6 billion of us (plus
the entire communion of saints!) is
beyond the reach of God’s abiding love.
No one among us is beyond the touch
of the Holy Spirit, in and through this
community we call the Church.
But here’s the catch: We are the
ones called to make faith come alive.
We are the ones called to reach out to
others, to “proclaim the gospel to
every creature” (Mk 16:15). In a world
torn by dissension, disaster, terrorism,
scandal, mismanagement and infectious
individualism, such outreach can
be dismissed too easily as someone
else’s responsibility. But for the believer,
this movement toward others is also
movement toward God, wrapped in the
experience of self-surrender. Ouch!
What an expectation!
Obedience of faith
While living on the Pacific island of
Okinawa many years ago, I had the
opportunity to come to faith in new
ways. In a place valued principally for
its strategic location in the balance of
world affairs, I saw in the simple yet
meaningful practices of this island people
a profound reliance on the wisdom
of older people and a calming gentleness
of spirit. I experienced the Spirit
of God alive within a rich diversity of
cultures among the relatively small
Christian community there. Indeed, I
learned that unity of faith and the obedience
required by faith are not limitations
but signposts leading us to
The obedience of faith is not a matter
of blind adherence; rather, it engages
us in welcoming a sacred trust: trust in
God, trust in others, trust in ourselves. By faith we risk making the word of God
our own. By faith we seek companions
on life’s journey in and to fullness of life.
Cyril of Jerusalem, preaching in
the fourth century, urged persons
preparing for Baptism to embrace faith
and resist all that would prevent them
from moving into the realm of sacred
mystery (The Works of Saint Cyril of
Jerusalem). He exhorted them to live
“with Hope invincible for your sandals
and with Faith the guest of your
heart….” His linking of “faith” and
“heart” reminds us even today that
faith resides as guest in our lives. This
is a guest that remains; there is always
more to uncover, more to disclose. The
gift of faith is both a treasure humbly
received and a gift to be handed on.
The U.S. Catholic Catechism for
Adults tells us that both God’s gift to
us “and our response to his Revelation
are called faith” (p. 37). People live for
faith and people die for faith. Faith has
to do with ultimates in life: truths,
principles, decisions, relationships,
risks and life with God forever. God’s
presence to us is so compelling that
our response in obedience is itself an
act of love. No wonder we proclaim,
“I believe in God.”
I believe in God
“Relationship” is, some might argue, an
overused term. Used without precision,
the word can lose its deeper meaning.
When my wife and I were dating, we
went through a courtship that included
becoming “pinned” and then engaged.
We were building a relationship in faith that led to marriage. That sacramental
relationship is a lifetime encounter with
the Trinity: one in marriage, one in faith.
God exists in eternal relationship:
Three Persons in one God. It is by faith
that we enter into a relationship with
God—Father, Son and Holy Spirit—and
in that loving communion enter into
sacred mystery. And the beauty and
wonder of this relationship is the truth
that God invites us to share his own life
with us. In such an encounter we find
out who we really are and what we are
called to be.
God offers new life to us. No wonder
we say with conviction, “I believe in
God.” This first line of the Apostles’
Creed summarizes our call to belief in
the one true God, the Creator of all
things, the God of covenant, of self-sacrifice,
of abiding love, of wisdom of
the ages, of life itself. Such a statement
is a statement about the Author of life.
No wonder we believe that “the
mystery of the Most Holy Trinity is the
central mystery of the Christian faith
and of Christian life” (Catechism of the
Catholic Church, #261). Both the
Apostles’ Creed and the Nicene Creed,
each rooted in history and Tradition,
call us to assert with passionate resolve
our belief in the one true God. Remember,
“God speaks to our hearts where
we may welcome his loving presence”
(USCCA, p. 51). Ah, yes, God the guest,
God the One present to us.
Blessed are we! Blessed be God!
The theme of this article is drawn from Ch. 3, 4
and 5 (pp. 21-63) of the United States Catholic
Catechism for Adults.
Next: Created and Redeemed in Love
Responding to God’s gift of faith involves proclaiming God’s goodness
and reaching out to others. Where do you witness this kind of “living
faith” in your own community? How do you put your faith into action?
God loves all people. Every person is worthy of God’s redeeming gift of
new life in Christ. Are there people in your world (local or global) whom
you judge unworthy of God’s love and gift of salvation? Why?
Unity of faith and obedience of faith are not limitations but signposts
leading us to dynamic freedom in faith.” What does this mean to you?