Tuesday, October 16, 2012

Year of Faith: Step One

Last week the Year of Faith was welcomed to a world that has a fading faith in all things spiritual and holy. We have looked to men, to priests, to preachers, to weathermen, to our fathers, to our teachers, to our doctors, to bloggers, and others for the answers. Time and time again they have shown their humanity and let us down. Time and time again, our generation and those before us have been disillusioned and disenchanted with having faith in anything.

That is because we have placed faith in all the wrong things.

Faith is simple...it is not of this world.

This Year of Faith was introduced because the Church and our Holy Father sees this, knows this, acknowledges this dilemma and embraces the challenge of renewing that Faith to a cynical world.

We are all called (invited really) to open the Door of Faith. Faith in the only one, the only thing, the only Being who will never let us down or disappoint us.

Last week, in my own meager way, I likened it to Finding Faith in a Mirror for those who don't trust or are uncertain of entering unknown doorways. Most people don't know what they believe nowadays but they do know what everyone else believes. People allow technology, movie stars, sport figures, and media to think and decide for them. They are content to hide behind closed doors.

But there is a constant knock on their heart that they hear, often find irritating, and will not be quietened, no matter how much noise, gossip, news, and technology they use to drown out the constant knock.

In mentioning that Door of Faith (though I still plan to focus on the mirror that the Church provides and that I mentioned last week), I wanted to draw everyone's attention to this picture today.

This is an allegorical painting by artist William Holman Hunt titled "The Light of the World". Click on the title link to read more about it.
 
It is an allegorical painting of Christ (the Light of the World) knocking on the door of our hearts. Constantly knocking. Annoyingly knocking, Persistantly knocking. Irritatingly so.
It's cruder, rougher than other images I'm familiar with but that is part of its beauty.
Life is not glossy or perfectly symmetrical. It's often crude, rough, earthy.
This rustic, earth-tone image is more lifelike.
We might not always, especially in this virtual reality we live in today, like things being truer to life; but we do appreciate its honesty and truth.
 
The years pass. The vines and weeds grow around and over our Door, choking the locks and rusting the hinges. That is truth. It's happened to all of us. None can deny it.

Fr. Jason Smith has a thoughtful piece on this painting:

"It is only after noticing Jesus and the locked door that our attention is drawn to the secondary elements of the painting: The brambles, the bat, and the lantern.
The brambles represent vice and sloth which have taken over the unkempt garden of virtue because of neglect. Flittering around in the darkness, above the door, is a bat, a natural symbol of darkness, of ruin, evil, and neglect. Fruit has fallen to the ground and lies uncared for and unattended. Yet Jesus towers over the brambles and the bat, and one feels that with a simple invitation he will crush them underfoot effortlessly, “All things are under his feet” (Hebrews 2:8). Perhaps it is his presence which has quietly kept the fruit from rotting.
Making the painting a night scene allows Hunt to use Christ’s lamp as the primary source of light."
 
* * * * *
 
One thing I liked about Fr. Hunt's allegory is that the lack of a door handle or knob represents "the obstinately shut mind" representing that Christ will not open the door of our hearts. It is our choice. We are on the other side of the door and only we can open the door.
 
This Year of Faith invites us all to do that.
That's Step One.
 
Jesus knocks. He knocks incessantly.
The Church provides us a mirror to the other side. It hands us the keys.
Will we? Do we? Answer the call?
Talk about having choices?
 
The choice to accept Christ or deny Him is our ultimate choice.
It defines every other choice we make.
 
It is a call of faith.
It is an act of faith.
 
I am ever conscious that the decision is ours.
 
So your first task for this Year of Faith is do you want to gut away the brambles that cover your Door of Faith?
Do you want to see the beauty behind the door?
Do you want to see Christ, study Christ, and share Christ?
 
That's what this Year of Faith is all about.
 
Let's reclaim the slogan of our brothers and sisters in Christ:
Do you accept Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior?
 
You do?
Good then!
Step One is Complete.
That little misconception can be done away with and we can move on in our Life of Faith because, really and truly, accepting Christ as our Lord and Savior really does imply a lot and it explodes our responsibility for living a life of faith.
 
The Church Christ left here on earth with the Holy Spirit to guide it forth, leads us forward.
Come!
 

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