Sunday, August 21, 2011

The Christ, Son of the living God

Saint Thomas Aquinas, in his Summa, describes how we can come to know through grace, yet we still need to study and reflect on the mystery of the Godhead. We have knowledge as much as we are open through the spiritual gifts from God, and as we make an effort to draw more closely to God through our pondering the mystery of our faith. Vatican II, when speaking about the teachings of the Church, maintains that the Church holds a revelation from God the Father, but the Church needs to mull this understanding over and again so as the knowledge of God might be unfolded before it.

Peter's great proclamation of faith is a story which we can readily repeat. It is the foundation of of Peter's leadership and eventually the apostolic tradition from which the Church has depended upon. In its teaching and shepherding, the Church has had to return to Peter's words, and the profession of the early Church fathers so as to adequately respond to the needs and concerns of the Church today. When we profess faith, as a Church, and as individuals, we say something about our own identity as well. More over the ministry, teachings, and life we lead are and can be a much greater indication of what we believe than the words themselves.

When we baptize our children we make a proclamation of faith, we take upon ourselves the responsibility of passing our faith on, and we make a commitment to actively engage in the faith we profess. "Well Father, I haven't killed anybody." That is an answer I receive sometimes when I suggest that we be more proactive in our faith. Throughout the history of the Church, when the Body of Christ forgot that Petrine Profession of Faith, the Church began a rapid downward spiral. Holy men and women stood up in the midst of the Church, and offering a prophetic voice, called the Church back to its origins.

We cannot be shy about professing our faith. Way too often we are more concerned about hurting feelings than about being faithful witnesses of what we believe. Sometimes, and sadly so, because we forget to nurture what we receive, or ponder the mystery of faith, we approach life with a sixth grade religious understanding. We need to develop the courage to return to our spiritual roots to declare that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of the living God.

Such a proclamation informs our intellect and decisions and choices. The Body of Christ does well when it is made strong by the faithful participation in all that has been seen and heard.

When we are asked to profess our faith, it is a good idea to consider the words of St. Peter from today's gospel. He reaches into the depths of his heart to respond to what he has come to know through faith. Jesus commends the fact that his understanding is given him by God. May our words and wisdom also reflect what we have received through God's wisdom.

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