No Other Words Can Express this…
Devotional Thought for our days….
Like a young man taking a virgin as his bride, He who formed you will marry you.
As a groom is delighted with his bride, So your God will delight in you. Isaiah 62:4 TEV
8 But you are our Father, LORD. We are like clay, and you are like the potter. You created us, 9so do not be too angry with us or hold our sins against us for ever. We are your people; be merciful to us. Isaiah 64:8-9 TEV
You will be like a child that is nursed by its mother, carried in her arms, and treated with love. 13I will comfort you in Jerusalem, as a mother comforts her child. Isaiah 66:12-13
For God, we are not numbers! We are important; indeed, the most important of all his creatures, the closest to his heart whether we are saints or sinners.
Yet sisters continued to leave and new ones failed to come. Perhaps, without being fully aware of the reasons, women religious felt a deep unrest at living in a Church in which Christianity is reduced to an ideology of doing, a Church in which there is no longer any place for mystical experience, for that zenith of religious life that has been—and not by chance—the most precious treasure of the Church through centuries of uninterrupted constancy and fullness in the lives of religious, usually women rather than men; in the lives of those extraordinary women whom the Church has honored with the title “saint”, and sometimes even “doctor”, not hesitating to offer them as models for all Christians.
As I study the scriptures with a group of guys, all who are servants of the church, there is a debate that is somewhat constant. It is over the use of a phrase that I use to help us study and communicate the good news of God’s love and care.
The phrase is simple, two words that I feel capture the essence of what we need to make sure people understand about God and them. The words are
They would plead that we can’t use those two words together, they will scare off men, they will be heard and people will think about sex or sensual or even perverse relationships. For years I have asked them to come up with another phrase, another way to express what Hebrew and Greek words like Agape and cHesed and Eleos do.
They cannot. And they admit that this is at the heart of the gospel, this relationship with God that is so deep, so powerful, so captivating. So intimate.
The Old Testament prophets saw this and expressed it simply and clearly. Isaiah even is inspired to compare it to the delight of a groom as he takes his bride to himself. He will also compare it to a woman nourishing her newborn. or an artist crafting His creation ( relative to Eph. 2:10) and the relationship the artist has with his work.
It is scary, as anyone who has been a bride or groom knows, the anxiety of letting a person get that close to you, not just physically, but spiritually, psychologically. Letting every barrier down, turning every defensive mechanism off, simply loving and being loved. Whether it is the groom, the newborn’s mom, or the artist, each opens themselves up to the “Other”, or as some philosophers have said, the “Thou” is important to the I and they reach a point where you can’t define one without the other!
That is what “intimate relationship” describes,
What Isaiah also notes is that God is the one who initiates this, who keeps it going, who is responsible. The groom in those days, the mom feeding the infant, the artist creating the “Work”. Each has the responsibility in the relationship for making it happen, for making the connection.
As Pope Francis notes, we aren’t just numbers, we are just parts of the Body of Christ, Each one of us has that relationship with God! As Benedict grieves, it is this zenith, this mystical experience, this constant fullness of the presence of God has gone missing from the church, and why it is weaker without the women (and some men) who could experience such joy, such delight, such wonder as living in the presence of God brings.
Luther would call this living the baptized life, living in the truth that in our baptism, we are united with Christ, and become one with Him. We live in Christ, for there is love, and joy and peace, far deeper than we could have ever imagined.
Far more intimate that we could normally be comfortable with…
Yet a place of peace. deep abiding peace that is beyond the peace of the world, A peace so unexplainable, save with these words….
The Lord be with you!
Pope Francis. A Year with Pope Francis: Daily Reflections from His Writings. Ed. Alberto Rossa. New York; Mahwah, NJ; Toronto, ON: Paulist Press; Novalis, 2013. Print.
Ratzinger, Joseph. Co-Workers of the Truth: Meditations for Every Day of the Year. Ed. Irene Grassl. Trans. Mary Frances McCarthy and Lothar Krauth. San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 1992. Print.
Posted on August 26, 2017, in Ancient Future, Augsburg and Trent, Devotions, Joseph Ratzinger/Pope Benedict XVI, Pope Francis, Theology in Practice and tagged baptism, Hermeneutics, intimacy with God, intimate relationship, Jesus, joy, Life in Christ, peace, practicing the presence of God. Bookmark the permalink. 1 Comment.