So this is a good time for us to examine how we have been living this year of renewal and what we’ve been learning about Jesus, the Church, and ourselves.
For me, the most important rediscovery we can make during this Year of Faith is that our faith is more than “information.” We have a natural tendency to let our faith become a habit or a routine. So we need to watch out for that. Because faith is more than only a set of beliefs and practices.
What we believe as Catholics definitely matters. It matters what we believe about God and about how we should live. We can’t make up our own answers to these questions. What we believe has to be true — or we’re going to end up living a lie. So it’s important that we know the content of our faith. It’s important that we know the truths contained in the Scriptures and in the Catechism. It’s also important that we practice our faith with true devotion, through prayer and receiving the Sacraments.
But our faith is more than even all that. Who we believe in comes before what we believe in. Our faith begins in the encounter with Jesus Christ. Faith is a gift. Faith is the gift of Jesus revealing his true identity to us — telling us who he really is and giving us the grace to believe that truth. The gift of faith opens our hearts to know that Jesus is more than a special man who lived long ago and who spoke beautiful words and performed powerful deeds. Through the gift of faith, we come to know that this man is at the same time the Son of the living God.
When we say we have faith — that we are Christians — we’re saying that we have met Jesus and we have believed that he is the Son of God. We’re saying that through our encounter with Jesus we know God’s love for us. And this love has changed our lives. Faith leads us to conversion. It puts our lives on a new path — the path of following Jesus and sharing in his life. We put our lives in his hands. We entrust ourselves to his promises — accepting his will for our lives and allowing his teaching to be the way for us. We love him because he loves us first.
Our life of faith becomes a journey that we are making with Jesus, walking by his side in the company of others who are also following him. It’s a journey of communion because we are united to Jesus in love and growing closer to him every day. It’s a journey of joy because we are sharing in Jesus’ own relationship with God.
With Jesus, we know God as our Father who loves us. With Jesus, we live as beloved children of God and brothers and sisters to one another.
This is important to remember in our culture, which puts so much emphasis on independence and a kind of rugged individualism — a sense that we are all “on our own.” We are not born alone and we don’t live our faith alone. So we have to resist that temptation to make our faith something that is only “spiritual” and private.
Having faith always means believing “in” the Church, which is the family of God. The Church is where we find Jesus — in the Scriptures and in the Sacraments, and in the traditions handed from the Apostles. In the Church, Jesus continues to give himself to us. He speaks to us in his Word. He nourishes us with his own Body and Blood.
During this Year of Faith, I’ve been thinking a lot about how our faith isn’t just a matter of our own will and feelings. Our faith is something we always must “profess.” Our faith makes us want to talk to others about Jesus and to share the love we have found in him. We want others to know what we know — that life begins again when we meet Jesus. Our faith moves us to go outside ourselves — to serve others and to build a society and culture that reflect God’s amazing love and plan for every person.
There is nothing more beautiful than the encounter with Jesus Christ that leads to faith! So let’s make a good resolution this week — to make a strong finish to this Year of Faith! And let’s ask Mary Our Blessed Mother to help us increase our faith and deepen our love for Jesus as our friend and our brother.