Saturday, August 18, 2012

The Eucharistic Mystery Calls For Our Response - Cardinal Francis Arinze (2006) Part 2

2. Faith

The first thing that Jesus asks of us is faith. When God speaks to us, we are expected to listen, to receive, to believe. We are not expected to challenge, to doubt, to argue, or to hire half a dozen lawyers or even theologians who are to find out more facts from him before we decide what our attitude should be. This would be most disrespectful, indeed stubborn and unbelieving. We should not behave like those Jews who on hearing Christ promise that he would give them his body to eat and his blood to drink, refused to believe and retorted: "How can this man give us his flesh to eat?" (Jn 6:52). Indeed those unbelieving disciples "returned to their former way of life and no longer accompanied him" (Jn 6:66). Rather we should in total faith reply like St Peter who spoke on behalf of the believing Apostles when Jesus asked if they also would go away: "Master, to whom shall we go? 

You have the words of eternal life. We have come to believe and are convinced that you are the Holy One of God" (Jn 6:68-69). Here are words of a person of faith. Peter believes because Jesus the Son of God has spoken. And God is neither deceived nor can he deceive. Peter does not need to understand how. It is enough for him to know that Jesus has spoken. Faith is an act of total trust in God who is Truth itself. It is a personal adherence of man to God. The act of faith is most reasonable because it is entirely and supremely reasonable for us human beings to accept what God has said, to entrust our everything — will, intelligence, future, prospects — to him. Indeed, the person who refuses to believe God is unreasonable, arrogant, insolent and most foolishly self-sufficient. Moreover, God's grace makes supernatural faith possible: "Believing is an act of the intellect assenting to the divine truth by command of the will moved by God through grace" (St Thomas Aquinas II-III, 2, 9; cf. Vat I: Dei Filius, 3 in DS 3010; CCC,155, 156).
Faith does not make everything clear to us. It is a sacrifice of our intelligence and will. But it calls on us to meditate on what God has revealed, to read the Holy Scripture, to compare one article of revelation with another, in short to seek understanding, as far as our puny powers of intelligence can go. Theology is faith seeking understanding, says St Anselm (cf Prosl. Prooem.: PL 153, 225 A; also CCC, 158). St Augustine puts it this way: "I believe, in order to understand; and I understand, the better to believe" ( Sermo 43, 7, 9: PL 38, 257-258). All of us will not rise to the dizzy theological heights of St Thomas Aquinas and St Augustine. But all of us can read the Bible, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, and from time to time some good book on the teachings of the Fathers of the Church, of the General Councils, and the magisterium of the Popes. In this way our faith is nourished, strengthened and promoted. And we are better equipped to articulate it, to give to anyone who asks of us a statement of what we believe and the reason for our faith (cf I Pet 3:15).

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