Bishop's Column

Lumen Fidei - The Light of Faith

“God,” Bishop Fulton Sheen once wrote, “who made the sun, also made the moon. The moon does not take away from the brilliance of the sun. All its light is reflected from the sun.”  Bishop Sheen’s point was that our vocation - and in fact our very reason for being - is to reflect the love of God as the moon reflects the sun.
  
In this we imitate the Blessed Virgin Mary, who was the perfect reflection of God’s perfect love. The love of God, and the light of faith, should shine forth clearly and infectiously from the lives of Christians.

In his first encyclical, Lumen Fidei published on July 5, during this special Year of Faith, Francis says that faith is transmitted as “light reflected from one face to another…. The light of Christ shines, as in a mirror, upon the face of Christians; as it spreads, it comes down to us, so that we too can share in that vision and reflect that light to others, in the same way that, in the Easter liturgy, the light of the paschal candle lights countless other candles.”

Our faith is transmitted, and has been for two-thousand years, through the personal witness of one Christian to another.  This means that our witness is tremendously important to the Lord.  Certainly, God could express his love, and reveal it, more directly, without our help.  But in the sacraments, in family life, and through evangelization, the Lord depends on us to transmit his love, by witnessing to the transformation of our lives.
 
Consider that reality.  The Lord loves us enough to make us an integral part of his plan.  Blaise Pascal said that God loves us so much that he “lends His creatures the dignity of causality.”

Too often, we understand the call to reflect God’s love as a call to passivity.  We take comfort in the fact that others might see our Christian lives, and hunger for the Gospel.  This may and should happen.  But Lumen Fidei suggests that we are to proclaim the love of God—not only to live it; but to actively seek opportunities to express what God has done for us.  “Those who have opened their hearts to God’s love, who have heard his voice and received his light,” says Pope Francis, “cannot keep this gift to themselves.” We are not only called to keep the faith, but we are called to spread the faith.

Lumen Fidei says that God’s love “is an experience of truth. It opens our eyes to see reality in a new way, in union with the beloved.”  In the Diocese of Lincoln, many of us have experienced the transformative power of God’s love.  We are blessed to see reality, through the eyes of faith.  We are blessed to see the world, in some small part, as Christ himself sees it.

We must then ask ourselves, seriously, if we have begun to proclaim the reality we have encountered.  Our Holy Father has asked us to become evangelizers—to reflect God’s love in our lives, but also in our words, in our efforts, in our invitation for others to share in the Christian life.

If we are serious about evangelization, Lumen Fidei invites us to go deeper.  If we have not yet taken up the call to evangelize, Pope Francis reminds us of what is at stake: “in the absence of light” he says, “everything becomes confused; it is impossible to tell good from evil, or the road to our destination from other roads which take us in endless circles, going nowhere.”

Brothers and sisters, Christ is the light which draws the world out of the darkness and chaos, out of confusion and sin.  Let us reflect his light, together, so that all men may know the truth, and become children of the light.

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