Chapter 1: We have believed in love (highlights)
If we want to understand what faith is, we need to follow the route it has taken, the path trodden by believers, as witnessed first in the Old Testament. Here a unique place belongs to Abraham, our father in faith. Abraham does not see God but hears his voice. The word spoken to Abraham contains both a call and a promise...a summons to new life...capable of opening up the future.
Abraham is asked to entrust himself to this word. Faith understands that something so fleeting as a word...spoken by the God who is fidelity becomes absolutely certain and unshakable. God ties his promise to...parenthood. The mysterious God who called him is no alien God who is the origin and mainstay of all that is. The great test of Abrahan's faith, the sacrifice of his son Isaac, would show the extent to which this primordial love is capable of ensuring life even beyond death.
Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey leading to worship of the Lord on Sinai and the inheritance of a promised land. God's love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way.
The history of Israel also shows us the temptation of unbelief to which the people yielded more than once. The opposite of faith is shown to be idolatry. Fath...demands renouncing the immediate possession which sight would appear to offer. Idols exist, we begin to see, as a pretext for setting ourselves at the centre of reality and worshiping the work of our own hands. Idolatry does not offer a journey but rather a plethora of paths leading nowhere and forming a vast labyrinth. Faith is the opposite of idolatry...it breaks with idols to turn to the living God in a personal encounter. Faith consists in the willingness to let ourselves be constantly transformed and renewed by God's call.
All the threads of the Old Testament converge on Christ; he becomes the definitive "yes" to all the promises, the basis of our "amen" to God. The history of Jesus is the complete manifestation of God's love for us. The word that God speaks to us in Jesus is not one word among many, but His eternal Word.
The clearest proof of the reliability of Christ's love is to be found in his dying for our sake. The evangelists could see the hour of Christ's crucifixion as the culmination of the gaze of faith. As the risen One, Christ is the trustworthy witness, deserving of faith.
In faith, Christ is not simply the one in whom we believe...he is also the one with whom we are united precisely in order to believe. Faith does not merely gaze at Jesus, but sees things as Jesus himself sees them. In many areas of our lives we trust others who know more than we do. Jesus the Son of God makes God known to us.
Our culture has lost its sense of God's tangible presence and activity in the world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, his love would not be truly powerful...real...and even true. It would make no difference if we believed in him or not. Christians...profess their faith in God's tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny...a love that can be encountered.
Faith knows that God has drawn near to us, that Christ has been given to us as a great gift which inwardly transforms us, dwells within us and...bestows on us the light that illumines the origin and the end of life.
...The life of the believer becomes an ecclesial existence, a life lived in the Church...Just as Christ gathers to himself all those who believe and makes them his body, so the Christian comes to see himself as a member of his body. Apart from this body, outside this unity of the Church in Christ...faith loses its measure; it no longer finds its equilibrium, the space needed to sustain itself. Faith is necessarily ecclesial.