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Papal Encyclical Lumen Fidei: Chapter 4 faith’s positive message

(Vatican Radio) In the last program of our five part series on Pope Francis’ first Encyclical letter Lumen Fidei or Light of Faith, Msgr. John Kennedy, an official at the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, takes a look at fourth and final Chapter.
Msgr Kennedy tells Tracey McClure that this Chapter’s subtitle is, ‘God prepared a city for them.’ “This is taken from the letter to the Hebrews. Already you can hear that this sounds positive, like really good news,” Msgr Kennedy says....

Listen to the conversation: RealAudioMP3

Msgr. Kennedy: The Pope says that “In presenting the story of the patriarchs and the righteous men and women of the Old Testament, the Letter to the Hebrews highlights an essential aspect of their faith. That faith is not only presented as a journey, but also as a process of building, the preparing of a place in which human beings can dwell together with one another.”

Then he discusses how the first builder was Noah who saved his family in the ark (Heb 11:7). Then comes Abraham, of whom it is said that by faith he dwelt in tents, as he looked forward to the city with firm foundations (cf. Heb 11:9-10).

He comments that faith brings about a new reliability, a new firmness, which God alone can give.

For this reason we can now also say that firmness of faith marks the city which God is preparing for mankind. When we know this, we see that faith sheds light on every human relationship because it is born of love and reflects God’s own love. The God who is himself reliable gives us a city which is reliable.

Question: Is there a consequence to this? Does it affect the way we live our lives?

Yes, most definitely. The light of faith is, says Pope Francis, concretely placed at the service of justice, law and peace. The light of faith is capable of enhancing the richness of human relations, their ability enrich our life together.

A lot of people might think the opposite but in fact faith does not draw us away from the world or prove irrelevant to the concrete concerns of the men and women of our time. Faith makes us appreciate the architecture of human relationships because it grasps their ultimate foundation and definitive destiny in God. Faith becomes a service to the common good.

Pope Francis then uses a beautiful image. He says that faith does not simply brighten the interior of the Church, nor does it serve solely to build an eternal city in the hereafter; it helps us build our societies in such a way that they can journey towards a future of hope.

Question: The family is a privileged place for the nourishment of our faith. What does the Pope say about the important of the family?

He says a strikingly simple yet obvious thing: In the family, faith accompanies every age of life, beginning with childhood: children learn to trust in the love of their parents. Parents should encourage their children and have shared expressions of faith which can help children gradually to mature in their own faith. Young people want to live life to the fullest and, for this reason, encountering Christ and being guided by his love, enlarges the horizons of existence, gives it a firm hope which will not disappoint.

Question: Does the family have any impact on society or are the two distinct units?

Under the heading “A light for life in society” Pope Francis says that “Absorbed and deepened in the family, faith becomes a light capable of illumining all our relationships in society.”

Think about it. We go into society having been formed and molded by our family. We sometimes have siblings in our family and for this reason we try to continue along the path of brotherhood. If we focus on our brothers and sisters, and neglect that we have a common Father, then we are headed for stormy waters.

For this reason we see in the history of faith that God called Abraham to go forth from his lands and promises to make of him a great nation.

Later it becomes evident that God wants to make everyone share as brothers and sisters in that one blessing, which attains its fullness in Jesus, so that all may be one. Faith teaches us to see that every man and woman represents a blessing for me, that the light of God’s face shines on me through the faces of my brothers and sisters.

Unless we remember that God has his complete focus on men and women, culminating in the incarnation, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, we can lose sight of what is precious and unique. The Pope adds, “Man loses his place in the universe, he is cast adrift in nature, either renouncing his proper moral responsibility or else presuming to be a sort of absolute judge, endowed with an unlimited power to manipulate the world around him.”

Question: Does this have an impact on how structures in society should be formed?

Pope Francis says that faith has an impact on structures because it enables us to respect nature all the more, and to discern the finger of God which is entrusted to our protection and care.

There is also another aspect: Faith also helps us to devise models of development which are based not simply on utility and profit, but consider creation as a gift for which we are all indebted; it teaches us to create just forms of government, in the realization that authority comes from God and is meant for the service of the common good.

To those who would say that faith makes us forget the sufferings of this world, the Pope reminds us of so many men and women draw near to those who were suffering, and accompanied them. Even though suffering is part of the world the dynamic of faith, hope and charity (cf. 1 Th 1:3; 1 Cor 13:13) thus leads us to embrace the concerns of all men and women on our journey towards that city "whose architect and builder is God" (Heb 11:10), for "hope does not disappoint" (Rom5:5).

In union with faith and charity, hope propels us towards a sure future.


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