Apostolic character of our faith

- Fr. Roy Cimagala (The Freeman) - October 9, 2015 - 10:00am

Christian faith is first of all a divine, supernatural gift that comes to us with God's grace. But since it is meant for us, then it is adapted to our human condition. In fact, it also has to be humanized, to be freely taken up by us to be our own, and cared for, developed and cultivated just like anything else in our life.

And so as a divine and human affair, it is at once spiritual and moral, eternal and historical, complete and yet needing to grow, mystical and down-to-earth. We need to learn how to cruise in this kind of fluidity that characterizes our faith. We need to take up the challenge, and develop the appropriate attitudes and skills.

This is not an easy thing to do. But neither is it impossible. It's good that precisely because of our faith, we know that the Church itself guides us on how to take care of our faith. We are not just on our own, left to our own devices. As our Catechism says, "No one can believe alone, just as no one can live alone." (166)

And within the Church, we can find not only the Pope, the bishops and priests, who preach the faith to us, but also an array of experts in the different fields that can help us understand and live our faith better. Let´s be more aware of this reality and take advantage of it.

Part of that human and historical aspect of our faith is that it has to be apostolic. That simply means that our Christian faith has to abide by the faith of the apostles, who were the direct witnesses and first recipients of Christ's teaching.

More than that, the apostles proved to have the right understanding of faith, as can be gleaned in that gospel episode when our Lord asked his apostles who do people think the Son of Man was.

Let's reprise the dialogue. From  Matthew 16, we have this dramatic scene, "And you," Jesus asked the apostles, "who do you say that I am?" "You are the Messiah," Simon Peter answered, "the Son of the living God!"

Jesus replied, "Blest are you, Simon son of John! No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father. I for my part declare to you, you are 'Rock,' and on this rock I will build my church, and the jaws of death shall not prevail against it.

"I will entrust to you the keys of the kingdom of heaven. Whatever you declare bound on earth shall be bound in heaven; whatever you declare loosed on earth shall be loosed in heaven."

It's good that we bring to the secular press some words of the gospel, because the secular world which focuses more on our mundane, earthly and temporal affairs is always in need of God and his word.

We have to distinguish between the secular and the secularized. The latter thinks God has no place in the secular world of business, politics, etc. It considers the world as totally on its own, to be governed entirely by men with no reference to God at all.

This is dangerous to us.

If we look closely at the words of the gospel quoted above, we can see that Peter's affirmation of who Christ was, was a fruit of grace. "No mere man has revealed this to you, but my heavenly Father." The faith of Peter is the faith given by God and correctly received and affirmed by Peter.

This is the faith that is shared with the apostles and transmitted to the successors of Peter and the apostles, namely, the Popes and the bishops. This is the faith of the Church. Our personal faith has to embody the faith of the Church. Again we need to be aware of this, and the practical consequences that flow from it.

We have to study the doctrine now taught by the Church, making it flesh of our flesh so that our faith does not remain ideas and words alone but turned into life itself. We have to understand that the doctrine of our faith has the capacity to infuse in us the life of God. Let´s allow it to effect its real purpose in life.

So, we should not remain hearers only of the doctrine, but doers also, always looking first at the example of the apostles who, being very simple people, became great men and saints precisely because of their faith!


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