The meeting with John the Baptist was for Jesus an experience that turned his life around. After the baptism in the Jordan, Jesus doesn’t return again to his work in Nazareth, nor does he follow the Baptist’s movement. His life now centers on a single objective: to cry out to everyone the Good News of a God who wants to save humanity.
But what transforms Jesus’ path aren’t the words he hears from the lips of the Baptist nor the purifying rite of baptism. Jesus goes through something more profound. He feels himself inundated by the Spirit of the Father. He recognizes himself as the Son of God. His life will consist from then on in radiating and spreading that unfathomable love of a God who is Father.
This experience of Jesus also contains a meaning for us. Faith is a personal journey that each one of us must traverse. It’s very important, without doubt, that we have listened to our parents and teachers from childhood. It’s important that we heard priests and preachers. But in the end we always must ask ourselves one question: in whom do I believe? Do I believe in God or do I believe in those who speak to me about God?
We mustn’t forget that faith is always a personal experience that can’t be replaced by a blind obedience to what others tell us. From the outside they can direct us toward faith, but I myself am the one who must open myself to God confidently. That’s why faith never consists in just accepting a determined collection of formulas.
To be a believer doesn’t primarily depend on doctrinal content that gets put together in a catechism. All that is undoubtedly very important for configuring our Christian vision of existence. But before that and giving meaning to all that, is the interior dynamism that from within brings us to love, trust and hope always in the God revealed in Jesus Christ.
Nor is faith a capital that we receive in baptism and which we can later dispose of tranquilly. It’s not something acquired in ownership forever. To be a believer is to live permanently listening to God incarnate in Jesus, learning to live day by day more fully and more freely.
This faith isn’t made only of certitudes. Through our life, the believer lives all too often in obscurity. As was said by that great theologian that was Romano Guardini, «faith is having enough light to endure the obscurities». Faith is made up, above all, of trustworthiness. The true believer knows how to believe in the obscurity what she has seen in moments of light. At all times she keeps looking for that God who is beyond all our formulas, both clear and obscure. Henri de Lubac wrote that «the ideas that we make for ourselves about God are like the waves of the sea, over which the swimmer supports himself in order to overcome them». What’s decisive is faithfulness to the God who is shown to us in God’s Son Jesus Christ.
Jose Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf