EG 13: “Deuteronomic” Faith

Vasnetsov_Maria_MagdaleneFor me this was one of the most “memorable” paragraphs of the introduction, describing the place of memory for the believer, and locating it in the practice of the faith. Let’s read:

13. Nor should we see the newness of this mission as entailing a kind of displacement or forgetfulness of the living history which surrounds us and carries us forward. Memory is a dimension of our faith which we might call “deuteronomic”, not unlike the memory of Israel itself. Jesus leaves us the Eucharist as the Church’s daily remembrance of, and deeper sharing in, the event of his Passover (cf. Lk 22:19).

Memory is not a sentimental longing for the past, but a recollection of God’s great deeds. Pope Francis tells me that we remember what God has done, not my own accomplishments. That would be the essence of my understanding of Judaism in this regard, especially that saving event of the Passover and Exodus from slavery.

The joy of evangelizing always arises from grateful remembrance: it is a grace which we constantly need to implore.

Joy is not an internal fabrication, a smiling face painted on a sour disposition. That Ignatian quality of gratitude emerges again. How do we find joy? We recall God’s activity in our life. Then we ask for grace. With persistence. With insistence.

The apostles never forgot the moment when Jesus touched their hearts: “It was about four o’clock in the afternoon” (Jn 1:39). Together with Jesus, this remembrance makes present to us “a great cloud of witnesses” (Heb 12:1), some of whom, as believers, we recall with great joy: “Remember your leaders, those who spoke to you the word of God” (Heb 13:7). Some of them were ordinary people who were close to us and introduced us to the life of faith: “I am reminded of your sincere faith, a faith that dwelt first in your grandmother Lois and your mother Eunice” (2 Tim 1:5). The believer is essentially “one who remembers”.

Twp things strike me here.

First, the notion of mortal time: God intervenes in history. Not just in the big events of Exodus, but also in the personal encounters of communities, small groups, and for individuals.

Second, Pope Francis cites Timothy’s maternal relatives, a Scripture passage excised from the Lectionary, possibly for brevity, but maybe for sexism.

Question for you readers: what do you make of the Holy Father’s definition? How is a believer “one who remembers”? What do you do to cultivate sacred memory?

Read Evangelii Gaudium here.

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About catholicsensibility

Todd and his family live in Ames, Iowa. He serves a Catholic parish of both Iowa State students and town residents.
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