In today’s On the Square, Nathaniel Peters examines the recent papal encyclical: “Lumen Fidei discusses faith as it relates to Scripture, salvation, reason, theology, the Sacraments, and society, all without much explicit mention of sin.” Yet Pope Francis does not avoid harsh criticism:
As is characteristic of his evangelical boldness, Francis notes that in the story of the golden calf, “the opposite of faith is shown to be idolatry.” Faith demands a kind of patience. It requires us to abide the hiddenness of the God we long to see. The pope notes Martin Buber’s definition of idolatry, which he in turn took from the rabbi of Kock: “Idolatry is ‘when a face addresses a face which is not a face.’” Idolatry takes place when we refuse to abandon ourselves to God, when we look at a faceless thing that we can grasp instead of the face of God which sometimes remains invisible.
The encyclical also includes a positive vision of what it means to follow Christ in the light of faith:
The law of God is a roadmap to wholeness, the thread that lets us escape the labyrinth of our conflicting desires and live lives of mercy and love. But the law of God is not a do-it-yourself manual. In a passage that could be helpful for ecumenical dialogue, the pope makes clear that people who consider themselves justified on the basis of their own works are in fact self-centered. They forget that goodness comes from God: “Those who live this way, who want to be the source of their own righteousness, find that the latter is soon depleted and that they are unable even to keep the law. They become closed in on themselves and isolated from the Lord and from others; their lives become futile and their works barren, like a tree far from water.”
Read the full column here.