IN YOUR hearts reverence Christ as Lord, and always have your answer ready for people who ask you the reason for the hope that you have.’ 1 Peter 3.15. But in speaking about our faith, hope and love, where should we begin?
It’s no good starting with churchy stuff or thinking that a quotation from the bible will clinch any argument, if people do not know what we are talking about when we talk about God.
This world is the gift of a Creator whose Word is made flesh in Christ Jesus and dwells among us. The ordering of the Church depends on the belief that this Word made flesh should not be made just word again, but should live in our lives, so that we become ‘the Body of Christ’ on earth.
It’s more difficult, of course, to talk about God than about sacraments and popes because we have to talk about what cannot in the end be fully grasped. ‘Everyone is aware of a deep mystery in life. We call that mystery, God.’ St Thomas Aquinas
But it is by staying with and struggling with this language that we find ourselves in a strange alliance with atheists who have demolished the ‘superman’ god, which, of course, is only an idol.
We part company from them when we insist on continuing to ask questions, whereas atheists impose the veto of materialism. The disbelief of our time can frighten us into a fortress where we speak only to ourselves: or it can be used as a spur to re-thinking false ideas of God.
A male-imaged ‘Top Person in the Universe’ for example, in whose image is made a male-dominated Church, must make way for the true God – a Communion of Love in which each of the Trinity is coequal and want to share that divine love with us.
If we speak of such a God, instead of hiding away to protect faith’s purity, then we find the resources for the renewal of our own faith, and understand better why we believe with such hope.
And this rings a bell with people, because, as St Augustine said, we are made in the image of this God, with hearts ‘restless till they find rest in God.’ 6/12/13
Peter Knott SJ