Monday, August 12, 2013

We gain fresh vision!


The readings today speak of Faith as a light that illumines our path in the darkness of waiting. In his first encyclical entitled Lumen Fidei, our Holy Father made mention of a common misconception that associates faith with darkness: that faith is a “leap in the dark, to be taken in the absence of light, driven by blind emotion” (Francis, Lumen Fidei, 3.) This so called darkness of faith perhaps comes from a misconception of what the Letter to the Hebrews said in the 2nd reading that faith “is the evidence of things not seen” – that faith forces us to uphold things that we do not see nor understand.

Faith is light which illumines every aspect of human life
However, the contrary is true. “Faith is a light…The light of faith…is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence. A light this powerful…must come from God. Faith is born of an encounter with the living God who calls us and reveals his love…Transformed by this love, we gain fresh vision, new eyes to see; we realize that it contains a great promise of fulfillment, and that a vision of the future opens up before us.” (Lumen Fidei, 4.) The Book of Wisdom (the 1st reading) referred to the night of the Passover in which the People of Israel “awaited the salvation of the just and the destruction of their foes” – in other words, they awaited on that night their liberation from slavery. However, their waiting in the middle of darkness of the night was illumined by faith for they waited “with the sure knowledge of the oaths in which they put their faith.” They were so sure that God would indeed save them for God has made an oath to do so and they know that God fulfills his promises. The Lord bids us to gird our loins and light our lamps and wait like servants waiting for their master to return from a Wedding feast. He tells us to wait and this we do because we know in faith that he will return. Faith illumines our waiting. We just do not sit in the dark without a clue as to what to expect. We know that the Lord will return because he said so. We look forward to the fulfillment of his promise.

St. Philomena whose feast we celebrate today, was a 13 year old girl who endured 40 days of imprisonment, was scourged, thrown into the river with an anchor tied around her, was subjected to arrows and eventually was beheaded all because she refused the love of an emperor in order to honor a promise of her virginity to Christ. It is highly unthinkable that a girl her age could endure such a long and frightening darkness on her own. She was true to her name “Philomena” which meant “Friend / Daughter of light.” Martyrs like her could not have endured it were it not for the light of their faith that opened their eyes towards a future that made sense of their sufferings. Jesus said, “Do not be afraid any longer, little flock, for your Father is pleased to give you the kingdom.” The reliability of this promise rested on their experience of God’s love that is always dependable. “Faith, received from God as a supernatural gift, becomes a light for our way, guiding our journey through time.” (Lumen Fidei, 4.) “The Lord says, I am the Light of the world. No one who follows me will walk in darkness, but will have the light of life.” (John 8:12)

“Faith demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer; it is an invitation to turn to the source of the light, while respecting the mystery of a countenance which will unveil itself personally in its own good time.” (Lumen Fidei, 13.) We reject instant answers. We patiently wait for God to reveal himself and his will. We constantly turn to the living God in a personal encounter. We entrust ourselves to his merciful love. We willingly let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God’s call. By constantly turning towards the Lord, we discover a sure path which liberates us from the aimless passing of paths that lead to nowhere. We walk by faith and not by sight. We walk a path that is firm and sure. 

Jesus, I trust in you. O Mary conceived without sin, pray for us who have recourse to thee!

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