Master's Thesis, 2014
104 Pages, Grade: A
Methodology and Procedure
Significance of the Study
Limitations of the Study
chapter 1: Approaching Faith from the Biblical and Ecclesial Perspective
1.1 Faith and Religion – Interconnectivity
1.2 Christian Understanding of Faith
1.3 Joyful Sharing of Faith as Evangelization
1.4. Evangelization as Proclamation of the Kingdom of God
1.5 Joyful Sharing as Works of Charity and Justice
1.6 New Evangelization
Chapter 2: Lumen Fidei – An Evaluative Study
2.2. Arrangement of Lumen Fidei: A Synopsis
2.3. Lumen Fidei – A Critical Summary
2.4. Biblical and Theological Analysis
2.5. Ecclesiology of LF
2.6. Joy of Believing – Faith in Love
2.7. A Dynamic Document
2.8. Criticisms and Appreciations
Chapter 3: Evangelii Gaudium and Faith Sharing – An Appraisal
Authorship and Background
3.1. Contents of the Exhortation
3.2. The Highlights of Evangelii Gaudium
Chapter 4: The Challenges of LF and EG to the Church in India
4.1 Indian Context
4.2. The Challenges before the Church in India
4.3 The Joy of Believing in the Indian Context: Challenges by LF and EG
4.4. New Evangelization – A Joyful Social Commitment
Personal Reflections and General Conclusion
Every human endeavour in one way or other is the result of some collective undertaking. This research paper is no exception. This dissertation, ‘The Joy of Believing’, is an example of collective thinking and working. It was in the last minute, I finalized this subject basing on the first two documents of Pope Francis. Pope Francis became an icon of compassion and love, and an ideal personality for numerous people across the globe. So, some of my well-wishers suggested me to work on this topic. This actually became a blessing for me, I believe. I thankfully remember all those who inspired me.
Among the numerous people I should acknowledge, some must be remembered very specially. I am grateful to H. E. Cardinal George Alencherry, the Major Archbishop of Ernakulam-Angamaly Major Archdiocese, and the Auxiliary Bishops of the Archdiocese His Excellencies Bishop Sebastian Adayanthrath, Bishop Jose Puthenveetil and Bishop Thomas Chakiath, for their support and concern.
I gratefully remember Rev. Dr. Thomas Kuriacose S. J., who is the Dean of Studies, JDV, Pune, for his valuable guidance in preparing this dissertation. Although having responsibilities of Deanship, he spent hours in correcting the dissertation and contributing ideas through valuable exchanges to make this work a profound one. I am obliged to his generous and compassionate guidance for the preparation of this work.
I thankfully remember Rev. Dr. Mohan Doss SVD, who was the coordinator for MTh course during our time, for his valuable assistance throughout the course. I also gratefully acknowledge the support of Rev. Dr. Prasad Lankappally, the present coordinator, who is taking rest due to the accident he met with recently. I wish him a speedy recovery. With immense joy I acknowledge the help and support through corrections, suggestions, and exchange of ideas, etc. from Rev. Drs. Kurien Kunnumpuram S. J., Kuruvilla Pandikkattu S. J., V.M. Jose S. J., Peter Kochalumkal CMI, Joaquim Fernandes SVD and Rev. Fr. Kuriakose Pereppadan SVD. I thankfully remember all my colleagues, especially those who were with me in Systematic Theology course: Angel Naveena, Dhanush, Jessy, Henry Sequeira, and Leo Williams. I would like to express my gratitude to my friends and colleagues who have assisted me in the preparation of this dissertation, specially, Rev. Sr. Sobha CSN (Editor, Amma Magazine), Rev. Fr. Aloysius Vilayil CMI and Rev. Sr. Mercy John SCC.
I bow down in acknowledgement and gratefulness to all my generous professors in love and knowledge of Jnana-Deepa Vidyapeeth, Pune. I am grateful to the Institute par excellence in theology and philosophy, for preparing an atmosphere of learning in the campus. I gratefully acknowledge the financial support from Missio for my studies. I am also thankful to Rev. Dr. Thomas Reddy, librarian and the library staff of JDV, and Librarian and staff, Ishvani Kendra, for their wholehearted support in doing this work.
I would like to thank Rev Fr. Peter D’Sousa SFX who showed me wonderful balance of hospitality by accommodating me in the Fr. Agnel Ashram and his encouraging and enriching comments and suggestions for my research work. Also thankfully remember Frs. Ivon Almeida SFX, James Mascarenhas SFX, Saji Kalappurackal MCBS and all those community members in Agnel Ashram for their companionship and concern, support and help throughout my work.
I also thankfully remember Rev. Drs. Vincent Kundukulam, Paul Mundolickal, and Sebastian Panjikaran of St. Joseph’s Pontifical Institute, Alwaye, Kerala. With great joy, I remember Rev. Dr. Kuriakose Mundadan for supporting me by sending articles related to my research, and Rev. Fr. Anto Kalathil CMI, for spending his valuable time for the syntax correction of the dissertation. I thankfully acknowledge the love and concern of Dr Antony Joseph, who is treating me for my allergic ailments, and his wife Mrs Rosamma Antony and family for their support.
Above all I humbly acknowledge like St. Paul, “By the grace of God I am what I am” (1 Cor. 15:10). This work of intellectual exercise, for me, is a gift and light of God. The immense love of the Almighty cannot be thanked proper in my life, I acknowledge. I bow down before the all-encompassing love and benevolence.
What does it mean to be a Christian in the present world? How are we to live a joyful Christian life in this age of losing faith in social structures and religious values? Religion and theology became an occult science for many; and belief in the values of life that religions proclaim turned to be useless and void. The world is always undergoing changes. As Heraclitus says, ‘You cannot step in to the same river twice’ gives a very big challenge to the Church. St. Paul says “The present form of this world is passing away” (1 Cor. 7:31). The changes and reforms happen in our world every minute and the obligation to be concerned with the world are the two facts that the Church faces today. ‘The handing on of the faith’ has become a deep crisis and a problematic today and has turned to be a burning issue for the contemporary Church. Despite all the best efforts and will, faith is in danger of evaporating in our times. It has become less and less determinative in our day-to-day life realities. Faith has become so weak that it cannot witness or be passed on.1 Fragmented worldviews and postmodern thought patterns tempt the commoner to think and act against religion and religious ideas of God. Cultural influences, institutional oppression, and systemic violence drive them away from religion, faith and other social structures.
When it comes to India, the Church, a minority in number, faces a lot of challenges in its practice and proclamation of faith. Globalization and the new economic reforms have badly affected the Indian culture which is turning to be secular, as well as fundamentalist. With a weak presence in many areas the Church in India is struggling to make its presence felt in the nation. Here I am making an attempt to understand the joyful sharing of the Gospel in the Indian context in the light of the first two documents of Pope Francis. The election of Cardinal Bergoglio as the Pope on 13th of March 2013 gave a new and special impetus to the Church life in the developing countries, since he comes from one of these. He accepted the name ‘Francis’ after Saint Francis of Assisi, who is known as the Second Christ2 and also known for his love for poverty.
In this dissertation my aim is to outline the thoughts of Pope Francis expressed in his first two documents, and in that light understand the Church in India and its challenges today. I do not claim this study as complete and final. As the title of this research indicates, one can experience profound joy when one believes truthfully and practices it sincerely. The papal documents invite the faithful to experience that joy and to share it with the fellow beings. The modern and postmodern developments led the humankind to a culture of anonymity, impersonal relations, and to an inhuman orientation for profit and personal benefits ignoring the other. Utilitarian objectification of fellow humans marked this culture. Here is heard a different and varied voice, the voice of Pope Francis, which is concerned about the poor and the marginalized.
In this dissertation, I have discussed the need for truthful action in Christian life in the present day society with the help of the first two papal documents by Pope Francis, Lumen fidei and Evangelii gaudium. The dissertation seeks to establish the necessity of living a faithful Christian life with reference to the Word of God and Tradition in India. This work uses a descriptive, analytical and investigative style throughout work to establish the thesis. I try to present the vision and message of the encyclicals through an analytical study of them and then will try to propose practical applications with a focus on the Church in the Indian context. A contextual method is used here to understand the relevance of the document today in India. This study also investigates the possible challenges posed by the documents in the Indian context and analyses it with the help of the documents to reach practical and workable solutions.
The first chapter clarifies the title and its biblical and theological explanations through an analytical and descriptive style. It analyses the faith from a biblical and ecclesial perspective in relation to joy of living one’s faith as a sharing in a grace-filled manner. After exploring the interconnectivity of faith and religion, and the postmodern understanding of religion I put my efforts to explore the Christian meaning of faith with OT and NT perceptions of faith and to understand New Evangelization in the contemporary context. The Vatican II understanding and the idea of proclamation of the Kingdom of God, charity and justice aspects, etc. will be studied for the clarity of the research. The study also looks into possibilities to effectively communicate the message of love of God in the postmodern age and the joy of sharing it.
The second and the third chapters make an evaluative and critical study of Lumen fidei and Evangelii gaudium. The theological, biblical and ecclesial basis is arrived through a critical analysis. Attempts are made to summarise or highlight the important themes of these documents. I tried to analyse the document with help of studies by people of various walks of life for the perfection of the study. I also attempted to understand the relevance of these documents in the postmodern, secularist, and the all-encompassing globalized culture and the evangelization efforts of the Church in contemporary world. I felt that the second and third chapters which analyse the documents needed much attention to express the message of the documents correctly without losing any of the deep theological insights. So, these chapters are rather long.
With the insights from the previous chapters, the fourth chapter is set aside to discuss the challenges posed by the encyclicals and the implications in the present day Church in India. I try to apply analytical and descriptive style to study the Church and its challenges in the multi-religious and poverty-stricken Indian situation. The emerging culture in India is greatly influenced by the globalization ideals, mass media and internet, and they are providing opportunities as well as challenges to traditional Indian cultures and values. The caste system, corruption, exploitation of women and the poor, fundamentalism and terrorism, etc. affect the Indian culture. Evangelization means cooperating with the liberating work of the Spirit, which is experiencing God’s love and loving Him in return through a life of sharing the joy of the Gospel by practicing that love. It is the message of the Kingdom of God. The Christians have to take up the challenges posed by Pope Francis through his documents to joyfully live out the faith with a new enthusiasm – the study highlights.
Some of my personal reflections and insights can be seen along with the general conclusion. The study highlights that the Church can meaningfully and effectively practice the Gospel message in contemporary India when it follows the real message of Jesus. Pope Francis invites the Church in India to take up the challenges of the Gospel.
The dissertation focuses on the joyful living of Christian faith in India today. The papal documents shed light on the authentic living of the experience of personal encounter of Christ Jesus and the joy of sharing that experience effectively. The study attempts to understand the Church in India in the contemporary age. This study covers the impact of the documents of Pope Francis in the Indian Church in the areas of evangelization, social commitment, inculturation and interreligious dialogue, prophetic involvement, etc.
The study provides the implications of the faith practiced in charity and the joy of proclaiming it in a truthful manner. This will discuss the challenges and ways to face the challenges to be truthful by being in love and faith. This will provide a clear understanding to live the faith relying upon God’s providence and mercy, and will enable the Church to work for the holistic development of humanity. The research highlights some of the challenges of the Church in India and offers some insights for the integral growth of the Church in the light of exhortations of Pope Francis. This study is important to understand some of the challenges confronted by the Church in India in the contemporary age and it helps to renew the Church practices and improve the methods of evangelization according to the need of the hour. This will help the students of theology and interested believers to understand the Indian situation and practice the message of the Gospel joyfully by sharing the joy of the Gospel. This study also reminds that, out of the experience of a personal encounter with Jesus every Christian has to engage with a renewed vigour in spreading the joy of the Gospel and to become spirit-filled missionaries.
The subject ‘Evangelization’ has got an unlimited scope of research. This research was limited to some aspects of the Indian situation in the light of the first two documents of Pope Francis. These documents are of great importance. The first one, Lumen fidei, serves as the theological background and basis for Evangelii gaudium, the second document. While doing the study I found that this being a recent document, there are very few analytical studies available on these documents. I acknowledge that like any other researcher of theology, I am also looking to Pope Francis for a clarity of his vision, theology, Christology, ecclesiology, etc. and it is too early to make a thorough judgement of his documents now. I also understand that the study of the Indian Church is a vast area of research, and I need to limit the study to certain areas of importance, which may not be so important for others. It does not mean that other areas are not important, but the time constraints, and the nature of the course for which I am preparing this study, etc. limited me from going further. Also I accept the inadequacies occurred because of my personal limitations. I am looking forward that the Church in India, filled with the joy of the faith and Gospel, will engage in the evangelizing task of joyful sharing and meaningful praxis.
Faith has multi-dimensional and multi-faceted understanding. It is not an easy task to define faith and its implications. We are living in a world, where faith and religion often lose credibility due to many factors like lack of co-relation between the two, the alienation from the life situation, religious fundamentalism, etc. Fragmented world views and postmodern thought patterns tempt the commoner to think and act against religion and religious ideas of God. Cultural influences, institutional oppression, and systemic violence drive them away from religion, faith and other social structures. The communitarian aspect is lost, neglected and even subverted, and destructive tendencies and irresponsible behaviour have come to the fore.3 The social and cultural changes have led to unwillingness to believe in a total and unconditional fashion as of the past. Christians have not been able to keep in their community the faith which used to nourish and energize all other actions of life. Instrumentum laboris says in its seventh paragraph that Christian faith has practically ceased to contribute to the up-building of society and culture.4 In such a context, there is a man who is speaking about faith and evangelization in the context of the common man and his life situation, and he is very much appreciated and accepted by the public – Pope Francis.
The Church has a mission. It is to preach the Kingdom of God as Jesus did, and to bring it about in the lives of all peoples, especially to the one who is at the outer edge of the society. The very activity of the Church, i.e., evangelization is that mission. Pope Paul VI, in his Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii nuntiandi, teaches that the whole meaning of evangelization is contained in the witness and mission of Jesus Christ, who proclaimed the Kingdom of God, salvation and liberation (# 15). This chapter is about to analyse the faith from the biblical and ecclesial perspective in relation to joy of living one’s faith as a sharing in a grace-filled manner. In this chapter I tried to explain the interconnectivity of faith and religion, and the postmodern understanding of religion. I also attempted to explore the Christian meaning of faith with OT and NT perception of faith as joyful sharing. Joyful sharing of the faith as evangelization is the heart of the chapter which is explored with the Vatican II understanding and the idea of proclamation of the Kingdom of God; charity and justice go together with evangelization and it demands a new evangelization in the new world.
Faith and religion are the two important realities in human life. They cannot be defined precisely and comprehensively. The best known definition for faith is “the assurances of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen” (Heb. 1:1). Even though this comes from the Christian scriptures, it is widely applied to the broad spectrum of religions and religious traditions. In its most fundamental sense faith has been defined as faithfulness and an attribute of divine and of believers of divine.5 Faith, as per the traditional Christian understanding, is the act of believing God.6 This is fundamental to religion and religious life. ‘Faith’ and ‘to believe’ are used in an interconnected manner in religious writings. The Catechism of the Catholic Church considers faith as “an entirely free gift from God to humankind” (1 Tim. 1:18). To live, grow, and persevere in this faith until the end, we need to nourish it with the Word of God (CCC # 162). From the very beginning faith and religion are intertwined. Humility is one of the essential virtues to grow in faith. Prayer is the communication with God. St. Teresa of Avila correctly comments that the proud man never prays.7
Religion is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence. The word religion is sometimes used interchangeably with faith, belief system or sometimes set of duties; however, in the words of Emile Durkheim, religion differs from private belief in that it is ‘something eminently social’. Religion, mostly, is understood or even underscored as a community of faithful with specific system of beliefs. It is an organized collection of beliefs, cultural systems, and world views that relate humanity to an order of existence.8 The etymology of the Latin word religio is disputed. There are scholars who tried to connect this word with other Latin terms relegere, religare, reeligere, relinquere, but no accord has been reached, except some personal ideas by the scholars. It is very difficult to define religion in a comprehensive manner. But we cannot deny the fact that it has a binding force.9 The whole of humankind, in one way or other, is connected to religion and faith.
Postmodernism is a complex phenomenon which cannot be easily defined. It is a reaction against modernity. Proponents of Postmodernism find the life we lead today, the outcome of modernity, unreal and inhuman, and many a time illusive. They want to develop a new way of looking at the basic tenants of life and a different way of being religious. They look forward to a religion that is free from the grand narratives of both tradition and that of the modernity.10 Religion, for them, is an experience which cannot be explained by propositions. It is love of God that has to be lived in spirit and truth. It is truth that is shared in narratives and not knowledge, nor cognitive and epistemic information. The question here is how it does and not what it is. It is praxis oriented approach, and not merely exists in an ideological level. Postmodernists never hold the principle of permanency. Every society, according to them, is in a state of constant flux and there are only relative values. They do not hold any absolute values.11 Postmodernists reject the idea of religion as an institution for moral policing. For them, religion is created, altered, renewed in formal interactions between human beings, and not given; images and ideas of God are manufactured in human activity; there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’ religion – no sanctifying agency; there are as many as there are groups and interactions, and they merge and join, divide and separate over and over again. For them, social action is ‘religious’ action. They come together to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth without bothering about who God is, or whether God is.12 Thus the postmodernism challenges the traditional religions to prove the faith in the present context.
In short, postmodern religious experience provides an experience of institutionalized religion without being belonging to a particular religion. They wanted religions, according to Clifford Geertz, which function “1) as systems of symbols which act (2) to establish powerful, pervasive, and long-lasting moods and motivations in men by (3) formulating conceptions of a general order of existence and (4) clothing these conceptions with such an aura of factuality that (5) the moods and motivations seem uniquely realistic”.13 In the postmodern age, the Church needs to adopt innovative strategies and accommodate the aspirations of the people to effectively communicate the message of love of God, the Kingdom of God. Faith and religion are interconnected to a certain extent. In Christianity faith and religion go together and it is a community of faithful. Christianity is not a set of systems and beliefs; it is community of faithful, living the experience of the love of God, manifested in the person of Jesus. The Trinitarian experience of love is the basis for the Christian living. We discuss the Christian understanding of faith now.
Pragmatism, one of the most influential philosophies developed in the 20th century America, is a doctrine according to which truth has to be entirely at the service of man’s development. It is focused on the practicality of each notion and the ways of finding practical solutions to a particular problem. This approach has influenced very much in the religiosity and daily life of humankind. Virtual reality is what exists in potentia and not in act. The ‘virtual’ is opposed to the formal and real. It delivers the imagination to create fiction and utopia, whose effectiveness is conceptual. The contemporary humankind live in a hyper-real world where images, spectacles and the play of signs, construct the identities and the perception of the individuals. Entertainments, media simulations, Disneyland and amusement parks, malls and consumer fantasylands, TV sports and excursions into ideal world are some of the examples of hyper-real culture. Pragmatism, one of the most influential philosophies developed in America in the 20th century, is a doctrine according to which truth has to be entirely at the service of man’s development.14 Virtual behaviour and pragmatic mentalities badly influence the religious life of the present human generation.
The Christian understanding of faith includes the Old and New Testament understandings and ecclesial understanding. Faith in the OT and NT is the fundamental and all pervasive condition of human persons’ relationship with God.15 The biblical notion of faith is complex and more descriptive than defining.16 There is a fundamental nature of orientation in faith. Faith is trustworthiness in the Christian understanding. It is both trustworthiness of God in God’s dealing with humans and the faith of human in response to God.17 Christians generally understand faith as a gift of God, by which the faithful obtain God’s self-communication in Christ. Since the Second Vatican Council, there is a conscious move from passive and blind faith to an active and conscious faith within the Catholic Church. There is a paradigmatic shift from intellectual understanding of faith to an existential and personalistic understanding in theologizing.18 It is a fact that many believers hold an ambiguous understanding of faith, theology, and doctrine. They find it difficult to differentiate precisely. According to Anselm, ‘faith seeking understanding’ is theology. Theology is the critical reflection of faith; and doctrine is the official teaching of faith. Faith is discipleship.19 The following is a study of the OT and NT understanding of faith and its implications.
Faith indeed is an act of intellect assenting to revealed truth. But in the Bible God’s revelation is oft-concerned with the future promises of God to Israel. Faith plays an important role in the salvation history of humankind as per the OT understanding. The most common Hebrew root used to express Israel’s faith in YHWH is ‘mn which basically meant firmness, certainty, reliability, and trustworthiness. The adjective ‘emun (faithful as in 2 Sam. 20:19; trustworthy as in Prov. 13:17), nouns ‘emuna (steadiness: Ex. 17:12; security: Ps. 36:3; fidelity, faithfulness: 1 Sam. 26:23; Heb. 2:4, and often predicated of God, as in Deut. 32:4; Ps. 35:6) and ‘emet (trustworthiness: Ex. 18:21; Jos. 2:12; constancy, fidelity, faithfulness: Gen. 24:27, 49; Is. 38: 18-19; Ps. 24:10; 39:11-12; truth, reality: Deut. 22:20; Jer. 9:4; Is. 59:14-15), and the adverb ‘amen (Num. 5:22; Deut. 27:15-26; Jer. 11:5). As a verb this root is used only in the reflexive form ne’man which means ‘to prove faithful, reliable, true’ etc. (Gen. 42:20; Deut. 7:9; 1 Sam. 25:28; etc.).20
Israel’s faith was closely connected with the idea of trust in YHWH, and another verb was used to connote faith, betah which means ‘to feel secure, to rely, to trust’ (Deut. 28:52; Is. 31:1). Similar verb used to express the idea of faith is hasa which denotes ‘to seek refuge, to trust’ (Deut. 32:37; Jud. 9:15). Since the Israelite’s attitude of faith often looked to the future, Hebrew verbs meaning to hope were used with an implication of faith (qawa/qiwweh: Gen. 49:18; Is. 40:31; 49:23; yihel: Ps. 30:25; 32:22; hikkeh: Is. 8:17; 30:18), all of which, with God as the object, signify to wait for Him with confidence and to hope in Him, and to believe in His promises.21
In the OT, Abraham is a typical example of faith. He puts all his trust in YHWH and does what YHWH said (Gen. 12:1-4); he set up an altar and called upon the name of YHWH (Gen. 12:8); even among the hardships of life, he holds fast to his faith (Gen. 12:10-16); YHWH protects Abraham and Sarah from the hardships (Gen. 12:17-20); life of faith leads to a generous outlook – he exhibits an extraordinary generosity to Lot (Gen. 13:1-13); Abraham’s experience of the Lord leads him to intercede for others – the concern (Gen. 18:16-33); Faith means patiently wait for the promises positively (Gen. 18:1-15); Abraham trusted in YHWH and YHWH’s promises even at the greatest trial of sacrificing his son Isaac (Gen. 22:1-24). The total surrender and commitment to the promises of YHWH made Abraham the father of faith. NT carries out the traditional account the OT gives and acknowledges and praises him as an example of faith (Rom. 4:1-4, 12, and 22).22
The traits of faith in the OT perspective is three-fold: Covenantal faith, Faith as Fear of the Lord and Faith as Relationship.
188.8.131.52.1 Covenantal Faith
The OT understanding of faith is always linked with the covenants. These Covenantal Faith include the covenant with Noah, Abraham, Moses, and with different kings and prophets. Moreover, faith in the OT is denoting a peculiar relationship (hesed) existing between YHWH and Israel. The word hesed itself denotes the enduring aspect of relationship where God is in pact with Israel. The faith of Israel was a particular form of life of a people chosen by Him and standing in active relationship with Him. The relationship of Israel to YHWH is indicated by the verb he’emin which means ‘to believe’ often contained an assent of the mind, confidence in the heart, and obedience in the will. Abraham remained strong in the faith of the promises of YHWH (Gen. 15:6; Rom. 4:3; Gal. 3:6; Jas. 2:23). In the Book of Isaiah, the prophet warns Israel that they would not survive without the faith in YHWH (7:9; 28:16).
184.108.40.206.2 The Faith as the Fear of the Lord
The OT references to faith imply the fear of the Lord. Although the term yir’at YHWH meant the fear of the Lord in a traditional sense (Is. 11:2-3; Prov. 1:2, 29; etc.), it rather meant reverence for YHWH, the standing in awe of Him, and therefore obeying His word on faith as in Exodus 14:31: “They feared the Lord and believed in Him”. It implies a confidence when used in Psalms (33:5-11; 39:2-6; 55:4-5; etc.).
220.127.116.11.3 Faith as Relationship
Believe in YHWH often means to recognize and acknowledge the relationship that He made with Israel. This implies a reciprocal relationship with YHWH and Israel. This relationship has for its object God’s omnipotence, His purpose in choosing His people, His love for them. Faith means the sum total of all the ways by which the humankind express this relationship with God in their lives. This relationship was the binding force among the members of Israel. The chosen people had their particular manner of life established through their faith (Is. 28:14-16; 30:15).23
Faith in the NT is, always and everywhere, connected with the history of salvation. To believe means to acknowledge and have faith in the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ, the incarnated Word of God (Son of God) and to believe in the significance of these events in the salvation of humankind. The apostles and followers of Jesus preached these truths to the men and women of all nations till the ends of the earth. Thus, those who believed became a community of believers, and there came into existence a relationship between Christ and His followers, thus, enabling a strong bond among themselves.24 The mission of the Church is to preach Christ as the one who was sent by the Father to establish Kingdom. This mission of the Church is a continued process by which Christ is presented to those who have not yet heard of him. Christ is at the centre of God’s plan of salvation, which is absolutely and freely given to humanity. Christ, by his life, death, and resurrection and the enduring presence in the world accomplish the work of salvation entrusted to him by the Father. Therefore, it is the mission of the Church to make Christ and his message known to those who do not know him through a life of sharing the joy.
Jesus, on the eve of his passion, assured Peter: “I have prayed for you that your own faith may not fail” (Lk. 22:32). When we go deeper into the NT, it becomes clear that the test of faith is not some inner feeling of happiness or certainty, but our capacity to give ourselves in love to other people. Love one another has become the axiom of the community. Love, as in ‘service’ (not love as in ‘it makes me feel good’) “serving other, particularly the poor and needy, the ones dismissed by society, those deemed unworthy of respectability… characterised the work of Jesus more than anything else”.25 St. Paul in his letter to Romans explains love as the summing up of all the commandments.
Gospel of John never uses the noun ‘faith’; however, the verb ‘believe’ is used around 80 times. Here too, having faith, i.e. trust in Jesus, is just as central a feature as in the other Gospels: “You believe in God, believe also in me” (14:1). However, in a modern context the two words ‘faith’ and ‘belief’ have drifted apart: belief now tends to mean having a belief about something which falls short of really knowing; faith is expressed in beliefs, and belief is not faith.26 Although, God is the primary object of faith (Mk. 11:22-23; Mt. 1:22), faith in Him demands the mission of His Son, through whom God is revealed (Mt. 12:28).27 This mission, entrusted to the Church and to the community of faithful, is to be carried out with joy of the experience of Jesus Christ, and through Him the triune God.
Evangelization is a sharing of an invitation to the love of Christ and love of God. The early Christians shared their experience of God’s love and presence in Jesus Christ. St. Paul says: “woe to me if I do not proclaim the Gospel!” (1 Cor. 9:16). The second Vatican Council conceived evangelization as a sharing of witnessing experiences of faith (AG # 2). Pope John Paul II in his encyclical Redemptoris missio writes: “Faith is strengthened when it is shared” (# 2). Sharing the faith means sharing love and concern with our fellow being. According to Pope Francis:
Following Jesus means learning to come out of ourselves in order to go to meet others, to go towards the outskirts of existence to be the first to take step towards our brothers and our sisters, especially most distant, those who are forgotten, those who are most in need of understanding, comfort and help. There is such a great need to bring the living presence of Jesus, merciful, and full of love.28
This is a kind of ‘coming out of us’ and growing beyond our limited personal horizons.
The Second Vatican Council was one of the major responses of the Catholic Church to the modern developments and its aftermath in the world and the Church. It changed many of its patterns of functions to suit the currents of the time. The Council understands the Church as a missionary, a sign and instrument of God’s salvation for the whole world. This nature and mission of the Church are dealt more specifically in Gaudium et spes, Lumen gentium and Ad gentes.29 The task of evangelization was proclaimed as the prime duty of the Church and placed it at the very heart of the Church. Gaudium et spes puts forth it clearly: “The Church has a single intention: that God’s Kingdom may come, and that the salvation of the whole human race may come to pass” (# 45). The Council document AG makes it clear that the pilgrim Church is “by its very nature missionary” (# 2), and “the work of evangelization is the basic duty of the people of God” (# 35). The Council sees the mission of the Church in three fold dimensions, namely, the pastoral activity among the faithful, promotion of unity among the Christians and the direct evangelization towards the people and groups who do not yet know and believe in Christ. The Council upholds the command of Jesus to announce the Gospel ‘to all nations’ (Mk. 16:15) in utmost seriousness and also is aware that still a gigantic missionary task is yet to be accomplished (AG # 10).
LG emphasizes the point that, “each disciple of Christ has the obligation of spreading the faith to the best of his ability”. The Church, by her proclamation of the Word of God “draws her hearers to receive and profess the faith, she prepares them for baptism, snatches them from the slavery of error, and she incorporates them into Christ so that in love for him they grow to full maturity” (# 17).
AG gives an elaborate picture of the missionary role of the Church. It declares that the whole church “by its very nature is missionary” (# 2). This decree reflects on Church’s new understanding of her mystery, her new openness to all that is good and her new attitude towards the religions of the world. It provides a deep theological concept of the mission, which, while owing much to the teaching of the great missionary encyclicals of this century, also completes them, and leads to a far stage of development.30 The Council holds the view that the purpose of the missionary activity is evangelization. The decree says, “The special end of this missionary activity is evangelization” (# 6).
The Pastoral Constitution on the Church, GS, describes the vast horizon in which the Church’s mission is carried out. The Council takes note of the fact that not only the children of the Church and the followers of Christ, but all people are called to be members of the Kingdom of God. The Church, following the footsteps of Christ, shares the anxieties of humanity and actively remains in solidarity with humankind. Christ is the beginning and the end of the Church`s activity and she is the universal sacrament of salvation (# 44 & 45). Only in this way the Church can encounter other cultures with the Gospel values.
Jesus, our Savior declares His duty thus: “I must proclaim the Good News of the Kingdom of God” (Lk. 4:43). According to Matthew 4:23: “Jesus went throughout Galilee, teaching in their synagogues, proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom, and healing every disease and every malady among the people”. The ‘Kingdom of God’ (Greek: Basileiatou Theou; Latin: Regnum Dei) or ‘Kingdom of Heaven’ (Hebrew: Malkut Shamayim; Greek: Basileiatōn Ouranōn, Latin: Regnum Caelorum) is a basic concept in Judaism and Christianity.31 In Christianity, the Kingdom of God concept has a prominent stand in its theological as well as socio-cultural realm. It has got a wider meaning in Catholic Social Teachings than a narrow community consciousness. The Kingdom is the concern of every one: individuals, society and the world. Working for the Kingdom means acknowledging and promoting God’s activity, which is present in human history and transforms it. ‘Building the Kingdom’ means working for liberation from evil in all its forms. In short, the Kingdom of God is the manifestation and realization of God’s plan of salvation in all its fullness (RM # 15).32 Evangelization is not merely preaching and converting; rather it is oriented towards the transformation of the persons, bringing an integral wholeness, and eradicating the structures of evil and oppression33 and thus bringing a new world of sharing the joy in the heart of those who share and accept the Good News.
Jesus proclaimed the Kingdom of God to the world. In the centre of Jesus’ message and mission is the reign and kingdom of God; it is to be understood in two ways: (1) its proximity determines the uncompromising demand for immediate conversion and (2) it is absolutely sovereign and freely offered gift of God’s grace to his chosen people.34 Many of his parables are based on the theme, Kingdom of God. As the one proclaims the Kingdom of God (Mk. 1: 14-15) and so ushers in God’s kingly action which definitely redresses injustice and liberates people from oppression, Jesus confronts the exploitative situation of His times by taking a decisive stance for the poor (the oppressed and the marginalized) and against the rich (the oppressor). His proclamation is necessarily good news to the poor (Lk. 4:18), and bad news to the rich (Lk. 6: 24-27).35
Jesus never described ‘Kingdom of God’ in concrete terms. He presented its significance in symbolic actions such as table fellowship with sinners, healings, and exorcisms. But most of all, He disclosed its significance through parables, similes, images and metaphors.36 Jesus proclaimed the nearness of God; a God who decided that time had come to bring the long awaited salvation to His people, to give life and to bring justice and peace with a marked inclination toward the poor and the outcast of the society. The Kingdom’s goal is to create one great family, one people where all will find their home in the family of God.37 Here, no one is excluded because of his economic or social status. Jesus’ Kingdom of God is a dynamic concept, i.e., reign of God in action in which the whole humanity is included. He proclaimed the Kingdom as present, but also referred to the Kingdom as a reality that is still to come.38
Kingdom of God in the strict sense is beyond definition. Jesus Himself never defined what the Kingdom meant. However, he described the Kingdom in parables by his pre-supposition. The best Biblical description always taken in to consideration is the sayings of St. Paul: “For the Kingdom of God is not food and drink but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit (Rom. 14:17).” Jesus manifests the dynamic presence of the Kingdom in history not only in words but particularly in his miracle activities. His demon exorcisms demonstrate that God is penetrating the present and establishing the Reign right here and now.39 Jesus presents a Reign of the Almighty in the world for the poor and downtrodden and for the marginalized. Jesus’ proclamation depicted Kingdom of God as FREEDOM or personal liberation, FELLOWSHIP of personal concern, and JUSTICE.40
The Liberation Theology bases itself in the very concept of liberation. This concept is originally part of Jesus’ vision of the Kingdom of God. According to the well-known liberation theologian, Leonardo Boff, the theme of Christ’s preaching was Kingdom of God that signifies the realization of a utopia cherished in human hearts, total human and cosmic liberation. It is a new situation of an old world. It cannot be made private, given only a spiritual dimension such as pardon for sins and reconciliation with God.41 Boff clearly points out that the Kingdom implies a revolution in our thinking and acting, a revolution of the human world and it implies Jesus Christ as Liberator of the oppressed consciousness.42 Christ, with all his energies, tried to create the conditions for a breakthrough of the kingdom of God and a total transfiguration of human and cosmic existence. He brought a new situation; the distinction between neighbour and stranger no longer exists, between pure and impure no longer exists. Jesus inaugurates a new type of human being and humanism. According to this vision the Christian does not belong to any family, but to the family of the whole world. Jesus affected human beings at their very roots, activating their hope-principle and making them dream of the kingdom, which is not an entirely different world but this world completely new and renewed.43 Jesus brings newness in the life of human beings as a whole. The liberation signifies a present anticipation and concretization of the Kingdom of God. For him, the definitive, eschatological salvation is mediated, anticipated and rendered concrete in the partial liberations that take place at every level of historical reality.44
The Mission of the Christian Community is given by Lord Jesus Christ through his words and life examples. Freedom, Fellowship and Justice are considered to be the basic values of Christianity. Love for God and neighbor is the driving force behind the teachings and activities of the Community. Concepts like Kingdom of God and God as Father (Abba) generated a universal brotherhood among Christians and it was the force behind their acts of charity, justice and peace. Pope John Paul II in his encyclical, Redemptoris missio, exhorts that Church is ‘Church for others’ just as Christ the ‘Christ for others’. The Church’s task is described as though it had to proceed in two directions: on the one hand, promoting such ‘values of the Kingdom’ as peace, justice, freedom, brotherhood, etc.; on the other hand, fostering dialogue between peoples, cultures and religions, so that through a mutual enrichment they might help the world to be renewed and to journey ever closer towards the Kingdom (RM # 17).45
Church can be an agent and source of solidarity. ‘The solidarity which binds all men together as members of common family makes it impossible for wealthy nations to look with indifference upon the hunger, misery at poverty of other nations whose citizens are unable to enjoy even elementary human rights. The nations of the world are becoming more and more dependent on one another and it will not be a possible to preserve a lasting peace so long as glaring economic and social imbalance persist’ (Mater et magistra # 157).
Religion had played a significant role in the process of globalization, initially through the expansion of world religions of Islam and Christianity, and later through the secularization processes in Protestantism.46 Religion became one of the bases for social transformation both at people’s everyday lives and at the national level. The seeds of globalization can be found in religion itself. The Church, i.e., Catholic Church, had supported the idea of globalization. Some scholars have suggested that the idea of globalization was put forward by the ‘hyper-globalization’ of some religions such as the Catholic Church that supported the idea of the world as one place.47
Relations between the Church and the world are also ultimately based on the sacramental character of the Church. “All the good that the people of God, during the time of its earthly pilgrimage, can bring to the human family derives from this fact that the Churches ‘the universal sacrament of salvation’” (LG # 17), at the same time both showing forth and actualizing the mystery of God’s love for human. Therefore the Church is obliged to take seriously the problems of humankind throughout history.48 According to Amaladoss, the plan of God for humanity and God’s salvific will is universal. The mystery of creation is God’s wish to share His life with us. It is a gift of unconditional love. Jesus in his life experienced the unconditional love of God and wished to share it with the people. He proclaimed the Kingdom of God, God’s newness and His concern for the people. He freed people from the structures of unredeemed conditions, both personal and structural as manifested in various illnesses and unjust conditions of which the people were victims.49 The privatized, profit-oriented, globalized world need an agent of solidarity, brotherhood, freedom, etc., and Church, the ‘universal community’, can be that agent that unites every nation and promotes the values like freedom, fraternity, justice, solidarity, etc.
Christian spirituality is based upon love that makes people share. The foundation of all the spiritual practices according to Christian understanding is love. This love implies loving God and loving neighbor. The double command of love is explicit in Jesus’ teachings (Mk. 12:29; Mt. 22:37-40; Lk. 10:27). It is explicit in the first letter of John (1 Jn. 4:20-21).
We can reach the conclusion that there is no authentic love for God without the love of neighbor. Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in his apostolic letter Porta fidei states:
Faith without charity bears no fruit, while charity without faith would be sentiment constantly at the mercy of doubt. Faith and charity each recognize the other in such a way that each allows the other to set out along its respective path (PF # 14).
If faith is to be an act of love, it must grow, spreading its message to others, and also reaching forward into the future, which conditions its present.50
The Gospel understanding of charity demands of every Christian to involve in the social realities of the world where s/he lives. Famous Colombian liberation theologian and Roman Catholic priest, Camillo Torres argues that love, as St. Paul suggests, is the fulfillment of the law (Rom. 13:8); but for this love to be genuine, it must be effective. It is not just doing some works of charity like alms giving, running few free schools, some housing schemes for the poor, etc.; but it demands from us some effective means to achieve the well-being of the underprivileged and discriminated. Camillo argues to go for even revolution if it is necessary for the establishment of well-being of the fellow beings as the work of charity. Revolutionary activity out of obligation of charity is what he wanted here. The revolution often involves violence and this is not an acceptable means to all. However, Church should function as a paradigmatic community in relation to her societal context.51
The author of the book, Becoming Good, Becoming Holy, Mark O’Keefe says that human love is grounded in the inherent human drive for self-transcendence which characterizes the human person as embodied spirit created in the image of God. Christians seek to love as God has loved them, with self-giving modelled on the self-giving of Christ in the event of the cross.52 He connects the Christian love with the love among the Persons of the Trinity. While discussing the relationship between Christian ethics and spirituality he says:
Both Christian spirituality and moral theology focus on and ultimately seek to serve the authentic self-transcendence in love which is at the heart of both true prayer and moral living. Such self-transcendence in prayer and in Christian living, modelled on the death and resurrection of Jesus, is the ongoing task of the Christian life as a whole.53
He argues further that the call to holiness must mean that every Christian is called to moral goodness rooted in openness to the divine initiative and action through prayer and thus share the divine life itself. Every Christian must seek to manifest the unity of love of God and of neighbour.54
The mission of the Church is preaching the Gospel, but preaching in the way as our Lord did, not just by words but by deeds, by living and dying for it. The Gospel is the Gospel of love and love demands justice. The Gospel is therefore a Gospel of Justice too. Living the Gospel means action not just words. The Synod of Bishops puts the idea thus: “Action on behalf of justice and participation in the transformation of the world fully appear to us as a constitutive dimension of the preaching of the Gospel, or in other words, Church’s mission for the redemption of the human race and its liberation from every oppressive situation”.55 Jesus’ choice to go to the cross has been effective in changing human activity. Humanly speaking, he could not confront the strength of either the Jewish or the Roman systems of the day, but by his willingness to empty himself, to sacrifice even his life, he successfully overcame both of them.56 This act of self-sacrifice must inspire Christians of all ages to commit their life for the mission of proclaiming the joy of living the experience of love that Jesus shared with the humanity.
The act of evangelizing is not just speaking, but proclaiming with power accompanied by signs. The proclamation of God’s word in the power of Holy Spirit (1 Pet. 1:12) brings healing (Mt. 4:23), joy (Acts 8:8), salvation (1 Cor. 15:1-2), and regeneration (1 Pet. 1:23). 57 The expression New Evangelization (NE) was used for the first time by Pope John Paul II. The expression NE implies that the Church feels responsible to devise new tools and new expressions to ensure that the content of faith is heard more and understood better (IL # 8). According to the Lineamenta prepared for the 13th Synod of Bishops and IL # 46, “it is the courage to forge new paths in responding to the changing circumstances and conditions facing the Church”.58 IL # 77 says that NE is not simply “replacing older forms of pastoral activity with newer forms” but rather “initiating a process of renewal in the Church’s fundamental mission” and the Church herself questions on her method of evangelization today and examines herself and the quality of evangelization.59
The Church hopes that the NE will lead to a “rediscovery of the joy of believing and living the faith as a divine proclamation and a rekindling of enthusiasm in communicating faith (IL # 9).60 The Holy Spirit continues to guide and renew the Church in her complicated task of proclaiming hope to the people of our time (IL # 41). According to John Paul II, the supreme duty of the whole Church and every believer is to proclaim Jesus Christ to all peoples (RM # 3). Vatican Council II says that evangelization is not simply one activity among many, but in the dynamic of the Church, evangelization is the energy which permits the Church to realize her goal, namely, to respond to the universal call to holiness (LG # 39-40). It is the greatest and holiest task of the Church (AG # 29).61 Christianity is a way of life, a path, and it has been from its very beginning. Jesus’ own teaching is the notion of a ‘way’ or a ‘path,’ and the first name of the early Christian movement was ‘the Way’. Indeed, seeing Christianity as a ‘way’ is one of the central features of the emerging paradigm.62 Experiencing the love of God and joy of living in that experience is to be shared. This is the primary duty of the Christians of all ages. This is the joy any Christian can share with his/her fellow human being, and thus the joy of the Gospel is multiplied. This is the vocation of every Christian.
Pope Francis in his first encyclical, co-authored with emeritus Pope Benedict XVI, Lumen Fidei says: “The light of faith is unique, since it is capable of illuminating every aspect of human existence” (LF # 4). In this chapter I was trying to elaborate the faith and religion in the context of joy of believing and proclaiming that joy. Christianity as community of faithful and a religion in the postmodern era needs to be living the values of the Gospel more authentically. The faith is proclaimed as a joyful sharing and an invitation to take part in that joy of experiencing the love of God in this life. The concept of Kingdom/Reign of God is the ideal proposed by Jesus and proclaimed by the Church throughout the ages. The practice of proclaiming the Gospel as joyful experience of Jesus and love of God attracts many from all the cultures. Understanding the message of the Gospel as a joyful experience is the need of the hour. Church and the community of the faithful have to live out this experience effectively in the world today. Faith is expressed through acts of love and justice. This chapter is an invitation to live Christian faith proclaiming the message of the Kingdom of God here and now effectively through the works of charity and justice.
The Light of Faith (Lumen fidei) has a rare distinction that it was brought by two popes- Pope Francis and emeritus Pope Benedict. Jesus Christ has rekindled in humankind the great gift of faith. For those who believe, the light that illumines their entire journey, for it comes from the risen Christ, the morning star which never sets. But, to the people of modernity, who are proud of rationality, the light of faith is only a fading illusion. People like Nietzsche critiqued Christianity for diminishing the full meaning of human existence and stripping life of its genuine novelty and from its inbuilt spirit of adventure. Faith, for them, would be the illusion which blocks the path of a liberated humanity to its full-fledged future.
The uniqueness of light of faith is that it illumines every aspect of life, irrespective of the stumbling blocks that appears before its way. Moreover, when this light of faith fades away or dies out, all other lights begin to dim, leading one to despair and illusion. Pope Francis invites the Christians “to sense the great joy of believing and to renew our wonder at the vast horizons which faith opens up, so as then to profess that faith in its unity and integrity, faithful to the memory of the Lord and sustained by his presence and by the working of the Holy Spirit” (# 5) and “to restore the primacy of God in Christ to the centre of our lives, both as a Church and as individuals” (# 6).
Lumen fidei63 is the first encyclical of Pope Francis. He himself acknowledges that the first draft of this encyclical was written by emeritus Pope Benedict XVI.64. Here, we witness to an extraordinary collaboration that might equally be called the Testament of Benedict and the Inaugural Address of Francis.65 So, this encyclical can be considered as the first encyclical of Pope Francis and the last encyclical of Pope Benedict XVI. The encyclical LF contains four chapters along with an introduction and a conclusion.
Introduction: An Illusory Light? A Light to Be Recovered
Chapter One: We Have Believed In Love (cf. 1 Jn. 4:16)
Abraham, Our Father in Faith (# 8-11); The Faith of Israel (# 12-14); The Fullness of Christian Faith (# 15-18); Salvation by Faith (# 19-21); The Ecclesial Form of Faith (# 22).
Chapter Two: Unless You Believe, You Will Not Understand (cf. Is. 7:9)
Faith and Truth (# 23-25); Knowledge of the Truth and Love (# 26-28); Faith as Hearing and Sight (# 29-31); The Dialogue between Faith and Reason (# 32-34); Faith and the Search for God (# 35); Faith and Theology (# 36).
Chapter Three: I Delivered To You What I Also Received (cf. 1 Cor. 15:3)
The Church, Mother of Our Faith (# 37-39); The Sacraments and the Transmission of Faith (# 40-45); Faith, Prayer and the Decalogue (# 46); The Unity and Integrity of Faith (# 47-49).
Chapter Four: God Prepares A City for Them (cf. Heb. 11:16)
Faith and the Common Good (# 50-51); Faith and the Family (# 52-53); A Light for Life in Society (# 54-55); Consolation and Strength amid Suffering (# 56-57)
Blessed Is She Who Believed (Lk. 1:45) (# 58-60)
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Doctoral Thesis / Dissertation, 165 Pages
Presentation (Elaboration), 15 Pages
Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 15 Pages
Essay, 17 Pages
Term Paper (Advanced seminar), 21 Pages
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Examination Thesis, 76 Pages
Seminar Paper, 27 Pages
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