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The Inner Nature of Faith: A Mysterious Knowledge Coming Through the Heart

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English: Jesus and the Samaritan woman. A mini...

Jesus and the Samaritan woman. A miniature from the 12th-century Jruchi Gospels II MSS from Georgia via Wikipedia

Copyright © 1988, 2012 James Arraj. All rights reserved.

The following excerpts have been reprinted with kind permission from the author
» read or purchase entire book at innerexplorations.com


From Chapter Eight: The Act of Faith

If we imagine ourselves living at the time of Jesus we can suppose that we would have had an easier time believing in Him. After all, He was visible, a warm, breathing person, and we could have walked with Him and talked with Him and shared a meal. We would have lost no time sorting through the various arguments about whether Jesus existed or what He said and did, and in addition to His words we would have seen His deeds when he healed the sick and gave other signs, like at the wedding feast at Cana. And thus, it would have been easy to believe, or so we suppose.

But if we read the Gospels it becomes evident that the people around Jesus had just as hard a time believing in Him as we do today. What they gained by the immediacy of His presence they tended to lose by their expectations for an earthly messiah, and their inability to get the whole picture of Jesus that comes to us through the Gospels. But the problem went beyond this. Even the words of Jesus and His deeds did not necessarily convince or compel them to believe. No matter how many reasons to believe they had, these reasons in themselves did not add up to faith. Even though the people of his time heard the same words and saw the same deeds, they came to radically different conclusions. Some thought He was possessed by the devil, or a rabble rouser or a revolutionary. Others ignored Him and some felt He was sent by God. How could such different judgments be based on the same facts, or put in another way, what is the ultimate principle by which these judgments were made? The Gospels make the answer clear. There is a direct relationship between our interior dispositions and the way we see Jesus. We need an inner attitude of love if we are going to look at His words and actions and see in them the hand of God. And this inner attitude is not simply something we generate out of our own interior resources, but it is a gift of God. And here we return to the notion of knowledge by connaturality. Like is known by like. Sense knowledge cannot comprehend intellectual things, nor can intellectual knowledge grasp by itself the spiritual realities that St. Paul describes when he distinguishes the spiritual man from the psychic man. Reason is unable to grasp God in Himself, but only in the prism of creatures, and so there must be another principle of knowledge for the kind of knowledge that faith is. By nature we can know and love God, but in a somewhat remote fashion as an intelligent creature would love his creator. But the message of the Gospels is that God desires us to share His own inner life. He wants to establish a relationship of love and this relationship is meant to be not only the natural love with which we aspire to return to the source of all Being from which we have come, but a higher love that goes beyond the exigencies of our own nature. We have seen that on the human plane that love centers itself on the inmost reality of the other person precisely as other. It draws the lover to become the beloved in his own subjectivity. Love becomes a sharing in consciousness, and a sharing in love and knowledge.

And this is the kind of relationship that the Gospels describe. God is drawing us to Himself so we can share His inner life and consciousness. He is setting up a relationship of indwelling or intersubjectivity…

From Chapter Eight: Epilogue

…All this [the entire chapter eight-ed.] can leave us with the impression that faith is a complex matter best left to the deliberations of theologians. This is not true. In fact, faith resists our intricately woven nets of concepts because of its simplicity and depth. And in virtue of this simplicity it permeates our lives like the air we breathe, but too seldom take notice of. We think God is absent because we do not find him like one object among all the others, when all the time He is there within us as our deepest goal. We are continually being drawn by this mysterious, powerful, silent call to union with Him, and it is faith which is our response to this hidden presence. At any moment, in any place, we can go on the journey of faith, for it is that tiny, quiet reaching out with our heart to God.

The above excerpts have been reprinted with kind permission from the author
» read or purchase entire book at innerexplorations.com

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