(Todd is away, but I am your guest host Fran. I will be putting forth some of the pending series posts that Todd has ready, such as this one on Lumen Fidei. I have certainly been grateful for his posts, which do a beautiful job of diving into this encyclical.)
Jesus rose and in the Scriptures we read his witness to the triumph over death. But is it enough for the skeptic. We might believe that God would raise his own Son. But will we follow. None of us may have an absolute intellectual surety on this point. But Jesus does show the way. Are we included?
17. Christ’s death discloses the utter reliability of God’s love above all in the light of his resurrection. As the risen one, Christ is the trustworthy witness, deserving of faith (cf. Rev 1:5; Heb 2:17), and a solid support for our faith. “If Christ has not been raised, your faith is futile”, says Saint Paul (1 Cor 15:17). Had the Father’s love not caused Jesus to rise from the dead, had it not been able to restore his body to life, then it would not be a completely reliable love, capable of illuminating also the gloom of death. When Saint Paul describes his new life in Christ, he speaks of “faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me” (Gal 2:20). Clearly, this “faith in the Son of God” means Paul’s faith in Jesus, but it also presumes that Jesus himself is worthy of faith, based not only on his having loved us even unto death but also on his divine sonship. Precisely because Jesus is the Son, because he is absolutely grounded in the Father, he was able to conquer death and make the fullness of life shine forth. Our culture has lost its sense of God’s tangible presence and activity in our world. We think that God is to be found in the beyond, on another level of reality, far removed from our everyday relationships. But if this were the case, if God could not act in the world, his love would not be truly powerful, truly real, and thus not even true, a love capable of delivering the bliss that it promises. It would make no difference at all whether we believed in him or not. Christians, on the contrary, profess their faith in God’s tangible and powerful love which really does act in history and determines its final destiny: a love that can be encountered, a love fully revealed in Christ’s passion, death and resurrection.
I think this analysis is true. Many people, even religious people, fail to behold God’s presence in the world. Are we lost in the maze of idolatry? Not all the time. Sometimes, the witness of those who are called to be mediators has become a gross failure.
Perhaps for those whose faith has been damaged by wayward clergy could turn to two places: the Scriptures and to the Original Witness, as well as other lay persons who experience likewise the lack of light in individual people and in some of the structures of the world.