March 2, 2007: Friday of the First Week of Lent

WE CAN’T SEE GOD BUT WE CAN SEE ALONG WITH HIM

The Old Testament canticle from the psalmody of Morning Prayer for this day warns us:

Truly with you God is hidden,
the God of Israel, the savior!
Those are put to shame and disgrace
who vent their anger against [H]im.
Those go in disgrace
who carve images.

Later, after speaking of God as “the creator of the heavens” and “the designer and maker of the earth”, the prophet Isaiah speaks along with God:

I am the Lord, and there is no other.
I have not spoken from hiding
nor from some dark place of the earth. [Isaiah 45:15-25]

God is hidden but only from those who wrongly seek Him, most especially those who seek to mold Him and carve Him that He’ll better serve their human needs and desires. But though God isn’t hidden, we can’t see Him as such for He is a pure Act-of-being, His own Act-of-being. After the resurrection, we’ll be able to see Him in the Person of Jesus Christ, but even then we won’t see His divine nature. We can’t see God but we shouldn’t blind ourselves to His Presence by thinking of Him as being outside of us, out there — the bearded old Fellow who sits on His throne in Heaven. We can’t see God but we can see along with Him for He is here, even in the deepest parts of us.

If we begin to think of God as pure Existence and the source of all existence, we can begin to see along with Him. I repeat that God is His own Act-of-being, the Supreme Act-of-being. He exists while we’re just shadows gifted with existence, given bodies that we might be the objects of His love. We come into being not just once but at every instant by acts-of-being which are possible only to God. He alone can create.

No, if we are acts-of-being which are due to God, then He is with us. He is, in fact, at the deepest foundations of our being, at the deepest foundations of all of Creation, including this universe.

He is with us in a way that is very difficult to fathom just because we think most readily in terms of substance. Surely, we think, “God is made up of divine stuff,” and we think this along with most philosophers and theologians in history. But thinking of God as being made of divine stuff separates us from Him. It even makes it that much harder to believe that the Son of God could have become incarnate in mere mortal stuff.

And it’s wrong. God isn’t stuff, not even the purest and most divine stuff. The Almighty is Existence. He Who exists necessarily and Who brings all other things into existence. He’s already in us but pleading with us to acknowledge this by inviting Him in. When we pray, we don’t pray to Him so much as we pray along with Him, learning also how to listen to our prayers along with Him. When the prophets heard His voice, it was not really so. That is, they were speaking along with God and listening along with God. They were learning how to think along with God. We might say they were learning how to see along with God. Let us pray that will unite us to Himself in all that we see and speak and hear and think and do. He has to do the heavy lifting in this task but He’s waiting for us to invite Him into us — where He already is.

And if this happens, will we be enslaved? No, for we’ll be sharing in God’s freedom at that point, a freedom infinitely greater than any we could have in our creaturely being. We’ll still be human beings, but beings fully aware of the Presence of God, it’ll be as if we’re part of that Presence. We’ll have a share of the divine Life, the divine Freedom, even the divine Free-will — the only truly free will there is. As St. Augustine and other Fathers said:

God became man that man might become God.

It’s perhaps easier to understand if we say:

God became man that men might share in the Life of God.

This is a difficult matter and we should maybe start to pray for understanding. We must ask, seek, and knock.

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Explore posts in the same categories: Christian spirituality, Christianity, Lenten meditations, Peace of Christ, Religion

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