Last Updated: Friday - 09/24/2010
Week of December 22, 2008
Faith happens when we listen to God's word
Pope Benedict calls on us to develop a working relationship with the Lord
BY CAROL GLATZ
'Faith is something new that we cannot invent but can only receive as a gift.'
He said Christ’s Spirit serves to create a visible community with the proclamation of the word and the sacraments, especially Baptism and the Eucharist.
Christianity, like Baptism, is passive, the pope said.
“No one can baptize himself; he needs someone else. No one can become a Christian by herself,” he said. This other who offers the gift of faith and of Baptism is the community of believers — the Church — which, in turn, is acting on God’s behalf, he said.
The Church “does not act on its own, following its own ideas and desires,” he said.
It passively accepts God’s will because “only Christ can constitute the Church. Christ is the true giver of the sacraments,” he said.
St. Paul taught that Baptism is more than a mere washing away of sin; it is death and resurrection into a new life in fullness with Christ, the pope said.
Becoming a Christian is not a cosmetic or superficial event in which “something beautiful is added to a life that is more or less already complete. It is a new existence, a rebirth, death and resurrection,” he said.
Explaining the transformative power of the Eucharist, the pope said, “When a person eats normal bread, digestion turns this bread into a part of the person’s body transforming it into an element of human life.”
But the opposite happens when receiving Communion, he said.
“Christ, the lord, makes us like him. He brings us into his glorious body and that is how we all together become his body,” he said.
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