Faith isn’t an impression or emotion of the heart. Without doubt, the believer feels faith, experiences it, and enjoys it, but it would be wrong to reduce it to «sentimentalism». Faith isn’t something that depends on feelings: «I don’t feel anything anymore; I must be losing my faith». Being a believer is a responsible and reasoned attitude.
Nor is faith a personal opinion. The believer personally commits self to believe in God, but faith can’t be reduced to «subjectivism». «I have my ideas and I believe what seems right to me». The reality of God doesn’t depend on me, nor is the Christian faith one’s own fabrication. It springs forth from God’s action in us.
Nor is faith a custom or tradition received from my parents. It’s good to be born in a believing family and receive from childhood a Christian orientation of life, but it would be pretty puny to reduce faith to «religious custom»: «In my family we’ve always been very Church-going». Faith is a personal decision of each person.
Nor is faith a moral recipe. To believe in God has its demands, but it would be a mistake to reduce everything to «moralism»: «I respect everyone and don’t do anything bad to anyone». Faith is, in addition, love for God, commitment for a more human world, hope of eternal life, thanksgiving, celebration.
Nor is faith a «tranquilizer». To believe in God is without doubt a source of peace, counsel, and serenity, but faith isn’t just an “cop-out” for critical moments: «When I find myself in a bad situation, I go to the Virgin». To believe is the best stimulus to keep fighting, working and living in a dignified and responsible way.
Christian faith begins to be awakened in us when we meet Jesus. The Christian is a person who meets Christ, and in him goes on discovering a God who is Love, a God who draws me more each day. John says it very well: «We have recognized for ourselves, and put our faith in the love God has for us. God is love» (1 John 4,16).
This faith grows and bears fruit only when we remain united to Christ day after day, that is to say, when we are motivated and sustained by his Spirit and his Word: «Whoever remains in me, with me in him, bears fruit in plenty; for cut off from me you can do nothing».
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf