The encyclical letter moves past Abraham into the story of Israel. The formative and foundational story for the Israelites is the deliverance of the Exodus. We’ll examine The faith of Israel over the next three posts.
Just as faith inspired Abraham’s pilgrimage of life, so to God draws an entire nation on a path away from slavery into the inheritance of the children of Abraham’s God:
12. The history of the people of Israel in the Book of Exodus follows in the wake of Abraham’s faith. Faith once again is born of a primordial gift: Israel trusts in God, who promises to set his people free from their misery. Faith becomes a summons to a lengthy journey leading to worship of the Lord on Sinai and the inheritance of a promised land. God’s love is seen to be like that of a father who carries his child along the way (cf. Dt 1:31). Israel’s confession of faith takes shape as an account of God’s deeds in setting his people free and acting as their guide (cf. Dt 26:5-11), an account passed down from one generation to the next. God’s light shines for Israel through the remembrance of the Lord’s mighty deeds, recalled and celebrated in worship, and passed down from parents to children. Here we see how the light of faith is linked to concrete life-stories, to the grateful remembrance of God’s mighty deeds and the progressive fulfillment of his promises. Gothic architecture gave clear expression to this: in the great cathedrals light comes down from heaven by passing through windows depicting the history of salvation. God’s light comes to us through the account of his self-revelation, and thus becomes capable of illuminating our passage through time by recalling his gifts and demonstrating how he fulfills his promises.
Pope Francis picks up on an earlier theme of the care of parenthood: parents care for children and pass the faith, as God calls the believer and inspires faith.
I’m less edified by the example of European architecture. God send enlightenment most usually through the ordinary experiences of human life. There’s the idiom, “I saw the light.” That’s something worth trusting. The image of light in concert with faith is not always the light of high windows, or even the sun.
The mention of “concrete life-stories” seems like a Pope Francis thought. It’s very much an Ignatian idea to “find God in all things.” Believers can be attuned to the large and subtle movements of faith in their lives. Losing a job then finding one, recovering from serious illness or injury, dealing with uncertainty in the economy or politics: all of these are opportunities to find God, to strengthen faith, and to engage in the pilgrimage of belief.