James Cameron’s movie, “Aliens” is a good metaphor for many of the world’s great religions. Near the beginning of the movie when the astronauts go into a cave to find the alien being their ship’s instruments had indicated while they were in orbit, they cannot find it. We, the audience watching the movie, know they cannot see the monster because they are inside of it. We cannot see our own Faith objectively because we are “inside” of it. At least, we are inside of a community of the Faithful.
In our modern interconnected society, we experience the presence of many firmly believed and different beliefs. Under the flag of “Freedom of Religion” we try to respect the beliefs of others while maintaining our own form belief in the truth of our own religion. We see others from the “outside” while they see us from the outside.
truth of faith is proclaimed by someone who as an active participant is a
witness; who asks, “Do you see what I see?” For example, phrases
repeated over and over again in the Book of Revelation, or Apocalypse are,
“I saw”… “I heard…”
“I know…and “witness”. In that last book of the Bible, which is a guide for our interpretation of Scriptures, what is seen are visions, stories and analogies: in brief, “metaphor” which the Greek root implies “ferries us across” from our visible world to the Invisible. So Jesus spoke in parables “because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear.”(Matthew 13:13) and quoting Psalm 78:2, “I will open my mouth in parables, I will utter what has been hidden since the foundation of the world.” (Matthew 13:34-35) For those within the Faith, a parable reveals. For those outside, it is just a myth.
Our Faith is our participation in the community of the Faithful. The Sacraments structure that community. We are initiated into a new life by the rebirth of Baptism. We actively confirm our baptismal vows with the chrism that marks our foreheads and numbers us among the Faithful. We sustain one another with Holy Communion and are guided by Holy Orders.
While the Sacraments structure our Faith, Holy Scripture is one of its foundations: not just the writings Jesus studied but also those His followers gave us. In addition, Jesus gave us the parable about a house not built on sand but on rock. I imagine He smiled inside when He looked Simon in the eye and said, “You are my Rock.” He said it in many different ways in many different contexts but it comes down to: If you love Jesus Christ you love one another. Period. I haven’t mentioned the Sacrament of Penance. I heard recently from a friend that one of AA’s 12 Steps is to look inside at the resentments you feel toward people, perhaps even family who hurt you, maybe harmed you in the past. I was surprised by how close AA comes to repeating the prayer Jesus taught us. We ask not only to be forgiven but for the strength to forgive. In today’s Epistle (btw “piste” is Greek for “faith”) St. Paul rejoices in telling how various enemies have failed to separate him from the love of Christ. How else but by forgiving those who brought the hardships upon him?