YEAR OF FAITH/ Has faith become obsolete? (4)
This is the last of a series of four articles on the Year of Faith.
Begging and Companionship
God chooses to come to us through encounter and event – through experience. It wasn’t a program the apostles and I met. It was a man. God could’ve yelled a perfect lecture from heaven on faith so that all on earth could hear, or made a detailed book on virtue for us and drop it from heaven; but He chose instead to become a man, to meet us, to live with us, as Fr. Carron explained to my friend – who as you remember was doing all the right things (daily Mass, rosary, holy hour, etc) but was miserable and about to leave the Church – in answering “What is Christianity?”
Fr. Carron went on that afternoon to explain: “God chose this method – incarnation – so we can have a relationship with somebody in which meaning is revealed. Instead of sending us what the meaning of life is, he became man to show us what the meaning of life is … This kind of freedom (in the witness we met), this kind of intensity, this kind of mercy, this kind of forgiveness, this kind of surplus, the intensity of humanity that we couldn’t imagine before. Even 2,000 years later, we met somebody who lives in such a way, and we ask, ‘Who is this? Can you explain how you can live in such a way?’ We are struck like the first time … This is the continuation of the Incarnation.” (v) And this is the continuing method He uses down the centuries to produce the recognition and experience of faith: presence, witness, encounter, correspondence.
It seems as though what we need more than anything during the Year of Faith is to become…beggars. We can’t force this encounter, but we can beg: to beg for Christ to show us His face again and again and again. And to beg for companions who we can follow on the journey. Once a week I meet with friends and we judge together – through the confusion and complexity of life – our lives, our work, our relationships – in short everything – and how it is that Christ is showing us His face and meeting us now, concretely (and not a focus on what we need to “do”). We beg to see this. And if we can’t see it, we ask, challenge, confront, and verify (true begging is exhausting, but in the end much more freeing than moralism). Following these friends within the Church has revolutionized my faith and my life. My identity is intertwined with belonging to this companionship (not just friends) which He has given me. And because of it, my life has changed: I look for Him more, I face relationships, work, and life differently.