15. Having reached the end of his life, Saint Paul asks his disciple Timothy to “aim at faith” (2 Tim 2:22) with the same constancy as when he was a boy (cf. 2 Tim 3:15). We hear this invitation directed to each of us, that none of us grow lazy in the faith. It is the lifelong companion that makes it possible to perceive, ever anew, the marvels that God works for us. Intent on gathering the signs of the times in the present of history, faith commits every one of us to become a living sign of the presence of the Risen Lord in the world. What the world is in particular need of today is the credible witness of people enlightened in mind and heart by the word of the Lord, and capable of opening the hearts and minds of many to the desire for God and for true life, life without end.
“That the word of the Lord may speed on and triumph” (2 Th 3:1): may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love. The words of Saint Peter shed one final ray of light on faith: “In this you rejoice, though now for a little while you may have to suffer various trials, so that the genuineness of your faith, more precious than gold which though perishable is tested by fire, may redound to praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Without having seen him you love him; though you do not now see him you believe in him and rejoice with unutterable and exalted joy. As the outcome of your faith you obtain the salvation of your souls” (1 Pet 1:6-9). The life of Christians knows the experience of joy as well as the experience of suffering. How many of the saints have lived in solitude! How many believers, even in our own day, are tested by God’s silence when they would rather hear his consoling voice! The trials of life, while helping us to understand the mystery of the Cross and to participate in the sufferings of Christ (cf. Col 1:24), are a prelude to the joy and hope to which faith leads: “when I am weak, then I am strong” (2 Cor 12:10). We believe with firm certitude that the Lord Jesus has conquered evil and death. With this sure confidence we entrust ourselves to him: he, present in our midst, overcomes the power of the evil one (cf. Lk 11:20); and the Church, the visible community of his mercy, abides in him as a sign of definitive reconciliation with the Father.
Let us entrust this time of grace to the Mother of God, proclaimed “blessed because she believed” (Lk 1:45).
My thoughts: In the first paragraph, Pope Benedict XVI reminds us that faith is a life-long journey, something we work at every day of our lives. We don’t just say we went to Catholic School, or went to CCD, or took RCIA. Those statements involve past tense verbs – over and done. We cannot be stuck in a 12 year old’s religious understanding. St. Paul tells us that when we become men, we put away childish things. That means we must grow up, and our faith must grow with us. The challenge for us today, as people of faith, is to become a credible witness of that faith by our actions, our words and our attitude toward God. People in our world are looking for answers to loneliness, despair, depression. They have not yet heard the “consoling voice” of Christ. They do not even understand that suffering and pain can unite us to Christ in ways no day of joy can even begin to reach. In many people’s minds today, God is judgment, and yet we know He is full of mercy. How is this information going to get out, if we don’t live it, say it and bring it to others? A merciful look, a merciful word, a merciful deed can change the life of the person next to you on the subway, or in the next cubicle. Christ left the Church to men and women who would learn its ways and teach its children, who would fall in love with their faith, such a rich and precious gift, and pass that gift onto others. You cannot give away, however, what you fully don’t possess. Start today by making a plan to learn your faith this year, to find answers to your questions, to pray more and sin less, and to gain confidence in sharing the beautiful gift of the Catholic faith. Too many people are “looking for love in all the wrong places”…help them find the true source of love, which rests in Jesus Christ.
Prayer: Anima ChristiSoul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within your wounds conceal me.
Do not permit me to be parted from you.
From the evil foe protect me.
At the hour of my death call me.
And bid me come to you,
to praise you with all your saints
for ever and ever.
En ego, o bone et dulcissime Iesu
O good and gentle Jesus,
I kneel before you,
and with all the fervor of my soul
I pray that you engrave within my heart
lively sentiments of faith, hope, and love,
true repentance for my sins,
and a firm purpose of amendment.
While I see and I ponder your five wounds
with great affection and sorrow in my soul,
I have before my eyes those words of yours
that David prophesied about you:
"They have pierced my hands and feet;
I can count all my bones." (Ps 22, 17)