Faith is Friendship with Christ
His Holiness, Pope Benedict XVI ushered a moment of grace for the entire Catholic Church when he opened the Year of Faith last Oct. 11, 2012. The date coincides with the 50th Anniversary of the Second Vatican Council, that great Church convocation which heeded the call of Blessed John XXII to read and respond to the signs of the times. The date is also the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
But the Holy Father emphasizes that this occasion is not just about anniversaries, which are things of the past. Rather, he highlights Faith and New Evangelization because there is an urgent need for them now more than ever. At a time when materialism, individualism and relativism threaten to corrupt humanity, greater faith is needed. Now that the “old stations of the Church” (Europe and America) are fading away, new vigor, new pastoral approaches and new prophets are necessary to continue the work of evangelization.
In his pastoral letter, our dear Archbishop Chito Tagle invites us “to look at the contemporary world, its beauty and wounds… to listen to the deep cries and aspirations of the people and societies of our time so that we can proclaim Jesus Christ to them with new methods, new expressions and new fervor.”
The Year of Faith therefore poses individual and communal challenges. We need to deepen our faith by studying the content of our beliefs through catechisms, faith formation sessions, bible studies, etc. We need to examine if our faith truly motivates our choices and actions. We need to appreciate and enliven our faith-celebrations, especially the sacraments.
The Year of Faith is made more meaningful with the canonization of our second Filipino saint – San Pedro Calungsod. His zeal to evangelize, courage to share and defend the faith and fidelity to his mission and the Church are shining virtues to proclaim and emulate. What a wonderful way to start the Year of Faith for us Filipinos. We have a role model and intercessor. In San Lorenzo Ruiz and San Pedro Calungsod, we have heroes in the faith. They, who have gone ahead of our journey to lead and inspire us. They remind us of our vocation. We are all called to be saints. Let the Year of Faith awaken that summons of Christ to us.
Most important of all, authentic faith leads us to cultivate and deepen our “friendship with Christ” – a favorite expression of the Pope. “I believe” means “I am a friend of Jesus”. And when I am a friend of the Lord, His will is my will; His joy is my joy; His mission is my mission. A saint is a friend of Jesus. A friend of Jesus is a person of faith.
I conclude borrowing the words of Pope Benedict XVI, “may this Year of Faith make our relationship with Christ the Lord increasingly firm, since only in him is there the certitude for looking to the future and the guarantee of an authentic and lasting love.”
– Rev. Fr. Jun C. Sescon, Jr.
Fr. Jun can be e-mailed at: firstname.lastname@example.org