by Fr. Lorenzo Rossetti | Homiletic & Pastoral Review
Adhering with love to the Lord, Victim and Priest, Obedient and Merciful, we embrace him in the real and veiled presence of the broken Bread, and we celebrate the victory against evil, sin, and death.
This essay focuses on the Christological and “Staurological” (from stauros, “cross” in Greek) dimension of our Christian faith, proposing a unique synthesis of biblical thought including Pope Francis’ Lumen Fidei teaching. It stresses the role of the Paschal Christ as archêgos (starting point), as well as teleiotês (consummator) of faith according to Hebrews 12:2—the Alpha and the Omega of Revelation 1:8; 22:13. This path of faith begins with the salvific proposal of the cross as divine love towards human beings (exitus a Deo), and culminates in the personal sharing of the holy justice of Christ’s cross as our sharing in his love for the Father (reditus in Deum). Finally, we shall conclude by linking our faith, our charitable actions, and our prayerful worship as the way of holiness (iter fidei) for all Christians.
Accordingly, I propose here a reflection in light of a short passage from the so-called Letter to the Hebrews. 1 It will not be scientific hermeneutics; it will rather be a theological meditation which will allow us to grasp a unique synthesis of the Pauline, and, generally, neo-testamentary, thought on faith. I believe this is actually the task I was assigned. I will try, as much as possible, to integrate the pontifical teaching of Pope Francis’s Lumen Fidei (June 29th, 2013; hereafter, LF).
Let us begin by recalling Hebrews 12:1-3, a very rich passage exhorting us to keep running, with our eyes fixed firmly on Faith, through his very own witnesses:
With so many witnesses in a great cloud all around us, we too, then, should throw off everything that weighs us down and the sin that clings so closely, and with perseverance keep running in the race which lies ahead of us.
Let us keep our eyes fixed on Jesus, who leads us in (gives rise to) (archegon) faith and brings it to perfection (teleioten). For the sake of the joy (charas) which lay ahead of him, he endured the cross (stauron), disregarding the shame of it (aischynes),and has taken his seat at the right of God’s throne (thronou).
Think that he persevered against such opposition (antilogian) from sinners and then you will not lose heart and come to grief.
In this fragment, the author urges patience (hypomone), which is the most excellent virtue of the Christians; the one which will receive the crown, as St. Augustine 2 said. In support of Christian patience, there is the memory and the fellowship of the saints; seeing ourselves surrounded by so many people who have lived the experience of faith, and have brought it to completion. 3 There is no loneliness in living the faith: we are helped and supported by the witness of others. Yet, perseverance means not succumbing to difficulties, and not giving into tribulations. We must, first of all, look at Christ, whose steadiness is exalted in spite of shame (aischyne) and hostility (antilogia). But the backbone of this exhortation is that this Jesus, 4 who was humiliated and opposed, is actually the one who has been glorified (thronos).
What is faith?