Faith and the Good News

REV. KENNETH BAKER, S.J.

Since practically every article of the Nicene Creed — which we profess at Mass every Sunday — has been called into question and put in doubt in recent years by some theologians and intellectuals, I have thought it best to begin this series with a number of articles on the Creed. Let us start with the Catholic notion of faith.

Given the massive confusion today in religious questions, even the most fundamental ones such as the existence of God, the immorality of the human soul, the possibility of faith and the divinity of Our Lord Jesus Christ, it can be very helpful to reflect on the basic tenets of our Catholic faith.

Since practically every article of the Nicene Creed — which we profess at Mass every Sunday — has been called into question and put in doubt in recent years by some theologians and intellectuals, I have thought it best to begin this series with a number of articles on the Creed.

Let us start with the Catholic notion of faith. At every Sunday Mass, before we step forward to receive the Body and Blood of Christ in Holy Communion, the Church bids us confess our faith in the Triune God by praying the Apostles' Creed. We commence with the momentous words that proclaim to all men that we are believing Christians, "We believe in one God." What is this faith that makes us Christians or followers of Christ? First of all, we must realize that faith is a supernatural gift from God. Before a person can believe he must receive the grace of God — and God's grace is the free gift of himself to man. Our Lord himself says in John (6:44), "No one can come to me unless my Father draws him." This applies to the first stirrings of faith in the pagan as well as the advanced sanctity of the saints and the Blessed Virgin Mary.

Secondly, faith is both a subjective, interior act of the mind and will of the believing person and also the objective content of what is believed. Thus, when we say that Jane has the faith, we mean that interiorly she accepts God's revelation about himself that he has made known to her through his Church. This faith gives her security about God's love for her. It gives her confidence and hope for the future. It fills her heart with love for the God who gives himself to man. In this sense we are talking about Jane's interior state of mind.

But the word "faith" also refers to the content, or what is believed. According to St. Paul, faith, in addition to being a gift from God, also proceeds from the preaching of the Apostles and those sent by them. Here I would urge you to pick up your family Bible and read chapters 2 and 3 of the Acts of the Apostles. There you will find a brief, complete outline of Christian faith in the objective sense. The faith preached by the Apostles comes to this:

God the Father sent his own Son Jesus into the world to save mankind from sin and death as the prophets long ago foretold. Jesus was a good man who went about curing the sick but the Jewish authorities rejected him and put him to death. God raised him up on the third day and we are all witnesses to his resurrection. Therefore repent of your sins, believe this Good News, be baptized and you will be saved from the power of the devil.

Scripture tells us that after St. Peter preached the first Christian sermon on the first Pentecost, three thousand people became believers and were baptized. From that moment they became "new creatures" because they were freed from sin and immersed in the knowledge and love of the living God.

See the index of chapters from Fundamentals of Catholicism which have been reprinted to CERC here.

ACKNOWLEDGEMENT

Kenneth Baker, S.J. "Faith and the Good News." In Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1 Part 1, Chapter 1 (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1995), 21-22.

This article reprinted with permission from Father Kenneth Baker, S.J.

THE AUTHOR

Rev. Kenneth Baker, S.J., has served for the past thirty years as editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. He entered the Society of Jesus in 1947. In 1970 he served as president of Seattle University and in 1971 became editor of the Homiletic & Pastoral Review. In 1973 he published his translation of the Philosophical Dictionary and adapted it to American usage. In 1975 he became president of Catholic Views Broadcasts, Inc., which produces a weekly 15-minute radio program that airs on 50 stations across the United States. He has built and run three community television stations. In 1983 he published a three-volume explation of the faith called Fundamentals of Catholicism Vol. 1, Creed and Commandments; Vol. 2, God, Trinity, Creation, Christ, Mary; and Vol. 3, Grace, the Church, the Sacraments, Eschatology.

Copyright © 1995 Fr. Kenneth Baker, S.J.


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