Waiting in Anticipation

Have you ever tried to have a deep personal relationship with God? If you have then you know just how difficult a task that can be. It should be easy, one might surmise, since God is pure love and he created each of us out of that love and he sustains us out of his love. So why should we find it so difficult to respond to his love?

Waiting in silence

Some years ago, just prior to Halloween, I brought home a small, white ball of fur, a seven-week-old Labrador puppy. She was the cutest little thing, with eyes that sparkled so bright, filled with a joy that spoke of nothing but “love me.” Halloween evening it seemed as though every costumed child who came to the door wanted the puppy; that was the power of love which emanated from her squirmy, playful demeanor and those big dark eyes. It was instantaneous bonding, an eager desire to love, to hold, to form a relationship with a small soft furry creature.

Surely God ought to be loved more than a puppy; after all, he loves all things, including puppies, into existence. So why don’t we swoon over God as much or more than we do over some tiny creature created through his inestimable love?

While this may appear simplistic and even a bit condescending, perhaps it is our unknowing that keeps us from having such a deep, loving relationship with our creator. We cannot see God, we cannot touch God, we cannot hold God, we cannot know God. God is being yet not a being, God is present yet cannot be seen, God is infinite yet unmeasurable, God caused all that is yet he is uncaused. Our minds are incapable of comprehending the magnificence, the essential essence, the infinite, boundless, omnipotence and omnipresence of God.

Simply put, we find it difficult to have a loving relationship with something that we can neither see, touch, feel, smell, nor hear with our limited human senses. Our human emotions are inextricably entwined with our senses. What we can enjoy through our senses helps us to form connections and relationships; what we cannot sense in any measurable human way makes it difficult, if not impossible to form any kind of bond.

Thus for most, love of God becomes more affectation and less affection. If God is unknowable, then our desire to encounter him, to love him, or to have a deep, personal relationship with him are not nearly as great as experiencing the simple love for a puppy.

God, in his ineffable love for his creation, and with his all-encompassing and perfect understanding of what he has made, is fully cognizant of our human weaknesses and shortcomings. In his knowing of our unknowing what is God to do to further reveal himself to mankind, to allow us to see his face, to hear his voice, to touch the hem of his garment, to hold him, to love him?

Understanding the inability of mankind to know him, God condescended himself, “taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness; and found human in appearance, he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.”1

God descended in order that we might one day ascend to him, but also so that we might discover how to love him as we ought. Jesus Christ, the Son of God, the second person of the Blessed Trinity, fully God in all his divinity took human form so that the unknowable could become knowable. God no longer could be thought of as an abstraction, a transcendent being beyond the ken of man. God, through and by the humanity of Christ, incarnated himself, becoming a fully human person, without giving up any of his unknowable divinity.

Jesus is God become man and in his humanity God is no longer unknowable, no longer abstract, transcendent or ineffable; he has now a face, the face of God. This we know for he has said:

I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me. If you know me, then you will also know my Father. From now on you do know him and have seen him.” Philip said to him, “Master, show us the Father, and that will be enough for us.” Jesus said to him, “Have I been with you for so long a time and you still do not know me, Philip? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, ‘Show us the Father’? Do you not believe that I am in the Father and the Father is in me? The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works. Believe me that I am in the Father and the Father is in me, or else, believe because of the works themselves. Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever believes in me will do the works that I do, and will do greater ones than these, because I am going to the Father.2

God has made himself knowable to all of mankind in the countenance of his only Son, Jesus Christ. When we love Jesus we of necessity love God, the Father, Son, and Spirit, for there is but one God, whole and indivisible, with three divine persons.

Yet, even though we have seen the face of God and heard his words, we struggle to attain a deep personal relationship with God. Perhaps it is because Christ has died, risen, and ascended into heaven and is thus no longer physically present to modern man.

Perhaps. But, then again, perhaps our struggles are made more manifest by the world and times in which we live. Here are eight struggles which may be keeping us at a distance from God:

1)      The struggle to have a vital sense of God within a secular culture which, for good and for bad, is the most powerful narcotic ever perpetrated on this planet.

2)      The struggle inside of our own wounded selves to be healers and peace-makers rather than contributing to the tension.

3)      The struggle to live, love, and forgive beyond the infectious ideologies that we daily inhale, that is, the struggle for true sincerity, to be men and women of true compassion.

4)      The struggle for interiority and prayer inside of a culture that in its thirst for information and distraction constitutes a virtual conspiracy against depth and solitude, the eclipse of silence in our world, the struggle to move our eyes beyond our digital screens towards a deeper horizon.

5)      The struggle to not be motivated by paranoia, fear, narrowness, and over-protectionism in the face of terrorism and overpowering complexity.

6)      The struggle with moral loneliness inside a religious, cultural, political, and moral Diaspora.

7)      The struggle to link faith to justice.

8)      The struggle for community and church, the struggle inside a culture of excessive individuality to find the healthy line between individuality and community, spirituality and ecclesiology.3

Yet, despite these obstacles which come between us and God, each of us has the capacity to overcome them all. No one has to overcome them alone for God will always help should we ask.

Soon he will come again, born of a virgin on a cold winter’s night in a stable; a helpless newborn baby boy, so perfectly beautiful, with a gentle smile upon his face and eyes that sparkle so bright, filled with great joy, so as to bring glad tidings to all the world.

Everyone who sees him loves him and wants to hold him in their arms. It is so easy to love such a small innocent child, much as a puppy, only more. So much more joy in the knowing, knowing you are looking into the loving eyes of Almighty God.

Amen.

Homily #100
Third Sunday of Advent (A)
Isaiah 35:1-6,10
James 5:7-10 Matthew 11:2-11

 


1 Phil 2:7-8.
2 John 14:6-12.
3 Adapted from: Ron Rolheiser, In Exile: The Ten Major Faith Struggles of Our Age, The Sunday Website of Saint Louis University.

Deacon Chuck

About the author: Deacon Chuck

Deacon Chuck was ordained into the permanent diaconate on September 17, 2011, in the ministry of service to the Diocese of Reno and assigned to St. Albert the Great Catholic Community. He currently serves as the parish bulletin editor and website administrator. Deacon Chuck continues to serve the parish of Saint Albert the Great Catholic Community of the Diocese of Reno, Nevada. He is the Director of Adult Faith Formation and Homebound Ministries for the parish, conducts frequent adult faith formation workshops, and is a regular homilist. He currently serves as the bulletin editor for the parish bulletin. He writes a weekly column intended to encompass a broad landscape of thoughts and ideas on matters of theology, faith, morals, teachings of the magisterium and the Catholic Church; they are meant to illuminate, illustrate, and catechize the readers and now number more than 230 articles. His latest endeavor is "Colloqui: A journal for restless minds", a weekly journal of about 8 pages similar in content to bulletin reflections. All his reflections, homilies, commentaries, and Colloqui are posted and can be found on his website: http://deaconscorner.org. Comments are always welcome and appreciated. He is the author of two books: "The Voices of God: hearing God in the silence" which offers the reader insights into how to hear God’s voice through all of the noise that surrounds us; and "Echoes of Love: Effervescent Memories" which through a combination of prose and verse provides the reader with a wonderful journey on the way to discovering forever love. He regularly speaks to groups of all ages and size and would welcome the opportunity to speak to your group.

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