Our very life is an occurrence of faith. The existence of every human being occurs as a combined sum of daily and permanent acts of faith. Faith in life, in ourselves, in all that happens and all that surrounds us. We could not live without faith, without trust (in the food we consume, in the chair that sustains us, in the shower we take and the traffic in which we move, we live trusting in the validity of the present and in our expectant hope for tomorrow…). To live is to trust. Thus the experience of religious faith implies, first of all, profound anthropological roots in the experience of every man and woman in their daily tasks.
Religion is, of itself, an experience of faith, or in faith. On the basis of their religious experience human beings trust and build their life (their yesterday, today, tomorrow and their final and definitive destiny) based on the power of the Transcendent One. As Christians we have placed all our confidence in the God revealed in Jesus Christ: Father, Son and Holy Spirit.
A “Year of Faith” is a fitting occasion to plumb more deeply the meaning of our human and religious experience: our vital experience of trusting —through Christ, with him and in him— in the Father, by the Son, in the Holy Spirit. A “Year of Faith” is a providential opportunity to reflect upon our faith in Christ and the implications which the experience of trusting in God have in each of our lives, that of our families, our work and the various contexts (labor, academic, political and economic) in which we live.
The Christian religious experience is that, above all: an experience, a vital practice that coincides with our human existence and involves all our life and activity. The faith of every human being, just as that of Jesus of Nazareth, is a human experience, lived out and tested in the occurrences of every day and in every new and changing circumstance, in all of which we are able to place all our confidence and hope in the God of Jesus Christ.
Therefore, faith is not in the first sense a doctrinal matter (even though this is assumed) nor a concept, nor the celebration of a rite. Christian faith is an experience of human life: a human life that trusts in God, the same as:
The faith of Abraham: Gn 22,1-19
The faith of Job: “God gave; God took away” (Job 2,10)
The faith of Jesus: “Father, in your hands I commend my spirit” (Lk 23,45).
The faith of Mary: “Let it be to me according to your word”(Lk 1,26-38)
The faith of the leper: “If you want to, you can heal me” (Mt 8,1-3)
That of the centurion: “One word of yours is all that is required to heal me”(Mt 8,5-8).
That of Paul: “I can do all things through him who strengthens me” (Phil 4,13).
And that of so many men and women who in the Gospel and in human history have placed all their confidence in God, have placed their life in the powerful and merciful hands of God, our Father, through Christ, in the Spirit.
Understood in this way, Christian faith is not a conceptual or theoretical act, nor a conceptual or rational recognition. Neither is Christian faith a singular practice, separate, divorced, distant or marginalized from daily life. To the contrary, Christian faith grants to Christian men and women a special way of looking at the daily circumstances in which all human life unfolds.
The distinction and divorce that we have assumed between the religious experience of faith and our daily life produces frequent contradictions such as the following: societies that are largely Christian possess, on the world scene, the highest levels of iniquity, injustice, violence and death… That is to say, societies in which Christian faith is not involved in the daily life of man-in-society, in which religious faith does not illumine the temporal and worldly realities and in which, to the contrary, faith seems to disturb the daily aspirations and conquests of the people.
In order that Christian religious faith might be more reasoned, better celebrated, more frequently shared, more eloquently preached, but above all, more fully lived: Let’s extend a welcome to “the Year of Christian Faith”!