Tuesday, March 26, 2013

Believing and Faith

Cristina Stern
In his chapter entitled, “Believing and Faith,” Marcus Borg asks his readers to look at these two words from a semantic and etymological perspective in order to understand their meanings. Borg goes back to the pre-16th century usage of the words believe and faith.
According to Borg, prior to about 1600 the word “believe” always had a person as its direct object as in “I believe in you.” Believe also means “to hold close to your heart,” which comes from the Old English word “be loef.” In contrast, our contemporary associations with the word “believe” have to do with accepting or not accepting something as true. Belief and faith, in our modern times, are considered synonymous. Believing in the pre-1600s was “loving” and involved “an opening of the heart.” The word “credo,” Borg says, means “I give my heart to you.”

“Heart,” he says, is the core of our selves, what defines us, what we stand for. The author refers us back to biblical passages, such as when Jesus talks about the Great Commandment, “Love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your mind, and with all your strength,” (Mark 12:30, Matthew 22:37, Luke 10:27). This quotation can also be found in the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 6:5). The author tells us that our transformation comes from our love for God, through Jesus.

Faith in Latin is “fiducia” and means trust. Borg reminds us that the opposite of trust is anxiety, worry. Jesus addresses this topic in Matthew 6:25-34 when he says, “Why do you worry…you of little faith?” When we have faith and trust in God, we become centered in Him and so we come closer and closer to Him. Believing and faith come down to loving and trusting God with our lives.

Borg reminds me that love is the only way to feel and know God and his son, Christ. It is not an intellectual experience; if you ask for the presence of Him then it is there, always. We just need to be present to experience this holy blessing.

Cristina Stern is a parishioner at Ascension, Gaithersburg. Share your comments on Facebook.