These two very powerful words introduce us to the statement of faith that we pray every week at Mass. This statement is a personal response to the God that has created us, redeemed us and sanctified us. In short, we are responding to the deepest revelations of a personal God, a God who loves, a God who reveals, a God who acts, a God who is living.
We are so tempted today to look into a void, into emptiness, into the darkness and conclude that we are nothing, that we mean nothing, that we are valued only for what we have or how we look or what we can provide. This sort of denial of human worth can lead to despair and self-destruction. But that is not what God’s revelation tells us. He reveals Himself to us to put our lives and our being into perspective. Pope Benedict XVI, in an address at the beginning of the Year of Faith in 2012 reflected on some of these issues. He said:
“…certain fundamental questions reemerge that are far weightier than they seem at first sight. What is life’s meaning? Is there a future for humanity, for us and for the generations to come? In which direction should we orient our free decisions for a good and successful outcome in life? What awaits us beyond the threshold of death?
From these irrepressible questions it becomes clear how the world of planning, of precise calculation and of experimentation, in a word the knowledge of science, although important for human life is not enough on its own. We do not only need bread, we need love, meaning and hope, a sound foundation, a solid terrain that helps us to live with an authentic meaning even in times of crisis, in darkness, in difficulty, and with our daily problems. Faith gives us precisely this: it is a confident entrustment to a “You”, who is God, who gives me a different certitude, but no less solid than that which comes from precise calculation or from science. Faith is not a mere intellectual assent of the human person to specific truths about God; it is an act with which I entrust myself freely to a God who is Father and who loves me; it is adherence to a “You” who gives me hope and trust.” (General Audience, Wednesday, 24 October 2012)
Yes, our response is a personal response of mind and heart to the revelation of love and compassion that we receive from God. It is the response of a person to a Person, or, as Blessed Cardinal Newman’s motto says, “Heart speaking to heart.” It is the heart of God that reaches out to us, that wants us to know Him as he knows us. He redeems us from the weaknesses of human frailty and sin by the piercing of His own Sacred Heart. He restores us to friendship and dignity by living within us.
The Catechism teaches us: “#142. By his Revelation, "the invisible God, from the fullness of his love, addresses us as his friends, and moves among us, in order to invite and receive us into his own company." The adequate response to this invitation is faith.”
St Paul tells us: “Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.” (Hebrews 11:1)
A spouse puts faith in their beloved. Their love is powerful and binds them together. This love is real and has a real effect on their lives. But love is a spiritual gift and reality. It is not something that can be seen except in its effects. Again, St. Paul instructs us as to the reality of this virtue:
“Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails.” (1 Corinthians 13:4-8a)
In the same way our God reaches out to us in love. If we allow Him to enter into our lives, our hearts and our minds, our only response can be to return that love and fidelity to the One who willed us into being from before time began. And it is in this spirit of love, of gratefulness and trust that we can indeed profess, “I believe.”