Tuesday, February 7, 2012
Blog # 229 Sharing God's Life
Blog # 229 Sharing God's Life Back home as a boy in a Catholic grade school I remember how all of the Sisters who were our teachers always seemed very conscious of the need we all had to "be in the State of Grace". From what I can recall as what this meant to me, we were always to live as God's friends and avoid injuring our friendship with God through venial sin or losing it through mortal sin. That still makes sense to me as a clear and simple expression of a goal of our Christian experience. Through the many years since and even currently the meaning and application of what the Sisters told us has increased and now would have to be labeled awesome. In Blog # 228 I reflected briefly upon the influence love brings to bear both upon a person who loves another and a person who is loved. We are changed by our love. We decide to move from New Hampshire to Illinois because our girl friend in high school decided to attend the University of Chicago. We learn to like Chinese food because our best friend is Chinese. Recently I read a bumper sticker that said "Love is best when it is shared". That would be another way of saying "true love is mutual". A drawing of a lamb and a lion lying peacefully along side of one another illustrated the bumper sticker. The experience of love is like the experience of living on a two-way Street. You can go both ways. Love is experienced as coming from the person in love and going to the person in love. So it is with our love for God. We love God and God loves us. Did you ever think of how the notion we shared in Blog # 228 "When we love someone deeply that person has a profound influence upon our life" might apply to our love for God? Though infinitely different from all other love that can be ours, our love for God and God's love for us is truly love and does have a profound effect upon us, and to our amazement, once we realize it, upon God. Let's consider first how it applies to our love for God and then in Blog # 130 how it applies to God's love for us. In the case of our love for God, a finite limited creature seeking to love an infinite unlimited God, we could not even imagine let alone effect a change we might produce affecting God with our love. But, beyond the limits of our imagination, God so loved us that He sent His own Divine eternal Word as Emmanuel, God-Among-Us, like us in all but sin, so that now by faith we can imagine ourselves listening to GOD in Jesus, walking with Him from Jerusalem to Jericho, sharing our fresh caught fish with Him, and eventually watching Him die. Distracted in our running after the gift of personal salvation, I think we are in danger of overlooking and failing to apply in a practical way the clearly revealed Biblical truth that identifies as one Person the Person of Jesus and the Person referred to as the Word of God. (Jn 1: 1-5,14). There is a tendency to emphasize the identity of Jesus as our Savior, atoning for our sins rather than God-Among-Us sharing God's life and love with us. With sins forgiven our life in Jesus comes into better focus. Two thousand years ago Peter James and John, the people who loved Jesus, and the people who assessed Him as a criminal and condemned Him to the cross, treated and influenced God in Jesus, human hand to human hand, and human eye to human eye. Once they believed the claim Jesus made to be divine, these people had the opportunity to love God in loving Jesus or to reject God in rejecting Jesus. We find ourselves in a similar position today. The difference is not in our love or denial of love but rather that the basis and identity of our decisions and choices in relating to God in Jesus and ourselves are ours by faith, beyond as well as within our physical human experience. Jesus can and should be close and real for us today by faith as He was close and real in the experience of the people He encountered two thousand years ago in His limited human life on earth. If we believe it, the sun that shines on us is the sun that shined on Jesus. If we believe it, what Jesus said to Peter in sound, we hear Him speak today by faith. If we believe it, it is no less real in either case than the songs you recorded at your Grandmother's birthday party in 1999 are less real than the songs your children hear when they listen to those recordings in your living room today. These insights constitute the basis for our universal practice of identifying and concluding all of our prayers to the Father in the name of Jesus. There is no other person who qualifies as our contact point with the Father. All other persons on earth, ever, from the very first one of us to each of the seven billion of us living on earth today cannot qualify, since, in our very definition as creatures, we are at an infinite 'distance' from God. Through and in Jesus however, the whole picture changes. A few Biblical texts from John's Gospel may help in clarifying and justifying the insight I am trying to convey. "If you knew me you would know my Father too." (Jn 8: 19 ; 14: 7). "I solemnly declare it: Before Abraham came to be, I AM." ( Jn 8: 58). "Lord," Philip said to Jesus, "show us the Father..." "Philip," Jesus replied, after I have been with you all this time, you still do not know me? Whoever has seen me has seen the Father." "The Father and I are one." ( Jn 10: 30). Through and in Jesus we have the power and the invitation to pray to God as Our Father ( Mat 6: 9; Lk 11: 2). Our thoughts words and actions, our prayer and songs of praise are re identified magnified and glorified in our union with the majesty and glory of the Risen Jesus wherever and whenever we unite and identify ourselves with Him by faith. Our hearts should fill with joy when we realize the words of the Father ,thundered down upon Jesus on the occasion of His baptism in the Jordan, can in Jesus be applied to us, old or young, Greek or Roman, male or female, healthy or ill, rich or poor: This is my Beloved Son in whom I am well pleased . The truth of that declaration applied to us can be seen as the Father's answer to the prayer of Jesus in John 17: 23. Jesus prayed for the Father to love us as He loved Jesus himself. And with that love in our hearts our Father is well pleased with us . Our love for God in Jesus, in human terms, 'engenders' pleasure in our Father. That is what happens when we live "in the state of Grace" . Thank you Sister ! Thank You Jesus!