The Eye of God in the Heart

Last Updated on January 28, 2022 by GMC

Abraham, Russian icon, Andrei Rublev Museum of Early Russian Art, Moscow, Russia

Saturday of the Third Week in Ordinary Time (Year I)

Hebrews 11:1-2, 8-19; Mark 4:35-41

Faith is the realization of what is hoped for and evidence of things not seen.

Hebrews 11:1

Is faith objective or subjective?

The New American Bible (Revised Edition) footnote to Hebrews 11:1 explains the difficulty of translating the original Greek words that it has rendered “realization” (hupostasis) and “evidence” (elegchos). The difficulty is existential and experiential. 

The Son of God united “flesh” (sarx) and divinity in his own person, an objective fact attested by Scripture, Tradition, and the Church, but facts do not produce faith of themselves. Even the devils “believe and tremble,” James writes (2:19).

Hupostasis unites object and subject—that which is believed and the heart that believes. As object, hupostasis means substance, being and reality. As a subjective experience, it means confidence, realization and conviction. 

Elegchos also carries objective and subjective meanings. As object, it means proof or evidence, and as subjective experience it means inner conviction. Translation is difficult because the choice of one word seems to exclude others. The NABRE has tried to include both the objective and subjective dimensions of faith in its translation.

From the point of view of spacetime, faith is related to hope in the realm of “not yet.” 

All these died in faith. They did not receive what had been promised but saw it and greeted it from afar…

Hebrews 11:13

From the point of view of eternity, faith rejoices “now” with the eye of God in the heart.

Abraham your father rejoiced to see my day; he saw it and was glad.

John 8:56

Heroes like Abraham walked with God, trusting in his “unseen” promises. Yet Abraham’s faith was as real and substantial as sight, Jesus attested two millennia after the death of the patriarch.

Genesis records that Enoch “walked” (halak) with God and “he was not, for God took him” (Genesis 5:24). The word for “walk” appears in Genesis 3:8 to describe God “walking” in the garden. God and the son of God walked together, an image of the Father and the Son: “The Father and I are one” (John 10:30). 

The seventh member of the genealogy in Genesis did not die, an early sign of the resurrection hope. Seven also indicates perfection and completion in the Hebrew covenant. 

By faith Enoch was taken up so that he should not see death, and “he was found no more because God had taken him.” Before he was taken up, he was attested to have pleased God. But without faith it is impossible to please him, for anyone who approaches God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him.

Hebrews 11:5-6

The possibility of resurrection kept alive by the memory of Enoch in the human heart enlivened the faith of Abraham many centuries later.

By faith Abraham, when put to the test, offered up Isaac, and he who had received the promises was ready to offer his only son, of whom it was said, “Through Isaac descendants shall bear your name.” He reasoned that God was able to raise even from the dead, and he received Isaac back as a symbol.

Hebrews 11:17-19

Faith is both objective and subjective. Faith is the life of God in the human heart. Faith is the still, quiet divine center in the midst of storms and trials.

Jesus was in the stern, asleep on a cushion. They woke him and said to him, “Teacher, do you not care that we are perishing?” He woke up, rebuked the wind, and said to the sea, “Quiet! Be still!” The wind ceased and there was great calm.

Mark 4:38-39

Faith is Jesus asleep, yet in command, in the inner boat.

2 Replies to “The Eye of God in the Heart”

  1. Dear GMC your reflection on faith is so beautiful and brings tears to my eyes as I think of my own simple faith that was forged in the midst of storms and trials. And sometimes, we are the one asleep, and awaken to Jesus in command. How that happens? Faith, no doubt!

  2. This meant a lot, as I have always keenly felt the lack of the subjective side of faith, which comes too infrequently and far between for my desire. This helps.

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