Papa on Faith and Abba, Father

Pope-Francis-Lumen-Fidei“Do you believe in the Son of Man?” (John 9:35)

The Lord Jesus asked the man, who had been born blind, this question. Do you believe in the Son of Man?

Now, blindness of the eyes can sneak up on a person during life. The thickness of my own personal spectacles demonstrates how blindness has snuck up on me somewhat over the years.

But the Lord cured a man who had been born blind. The man had not grown blind by squinting at ancient Torah scrolls in dimly lit synagogues. He had not suffered an injury to his eyes in a battle or a fight or an accident. This man had been born blind.

St. Augustine interprets this in a mystical way: “The blind man here is the human race. Blindness came upon the first man by reason of sin, and from him all derive it.”

Whom can we not see? The most important Being of them all, our origin and the goal of all our striving. Can’t see Him. Can’t see the One upon Whom all the angels gaze, and it is all the food they need. We are blind from birth.

The world recently marked the first anniversary of Pope Francis’ election as successor of St. Peter. A lot of journalists wrote a lot of articles about it, and a lot of newsies talked about it on tv. I have to say that I found most of what I read or saw on the subject to be stunningly shallow and unenlightening.

Seems to me that if we want to know our Holy Father, we should start with the encyclical letter he wrote to us. In his encyclical letter, he speaks for himself. He expresses what he wants to express to us. The Pope has written us an encyclical entitled “The Light of Faith.”

Abba, Father
Abba, Father
Shall I share a quote or two with you?

His Holiness begins by quoting the Lord Jesus. After the Lord cured the man born blind and raised Lazarus from the dead, He said, “I have come as light into the world, that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness.” Pope Francis explains these words of Christ:

“Those who believe, see; they see with a light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets.”

Pope Francis goes on: “The light of faith brings grandeur and fulfillment to life…a new experience and a luminous vision of existence.”

One of the themes that the Holy Father repeatedly emphasizes in his encyclical is that faith involves

1) our remembering a promise made to us and 2) living in hope of that promise’s fulfillment.

The life, death, and resurrection of Jesus—the Paschal Mystery—offers us the promise, which, in faith, we remember. He Himself taught us how to remember it, namely by celebrating Mass. The fulfillment of this promise in us—that we would share in all the mysteries of Christ’s holy humanity—we live in hope of that fulfillment. The promise’s fulfillment begins with our communion in Christ’s Body and Blood through the sacrament. The fulfillment will be complete in heaven, please God we get there.

Pope Francis explains the fulfillment of the promise like this:

Christ is not simply the one in whom we believe, the supreme manifestation of God’s love; he is also the one with whom we are united, precisely in order to believe.

Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus Himself sees them…Christ’s life, his way of knowing the Father and living in complete and constant relationship with him, opens up new and inviting vistas for human experience…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.

The Pope identifies one expression in Scripture as “the core of Christian experience.” Anyone want to guess what it is? Give you a hint: Romans 8:15.

The Lord Jesus uttered the expression at the beginning of His prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane. St. Paul tells us that we, too, cry out to God, using this expression, when Christ pours the Holy Spirit into our hearts.

“Abba, Father.”

Pope Francis calls our Christian life “filial existence,” existence as a son or daughter of God, “acknowledging the primordial and radical gift which upholds our lives.”

God made me out of love to be His child, and all things that move move towards my salvation. Even the hard things lead me there. Especially the hard things. Because the crucified Christ is the key that opens the door to a life that makes sense.

When we believe in the Son of Man, we see heavenly love in everything, even in our suffering. And we cry out, like children, “Abba. Father.”


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