Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 So far as the Law is concerned, however, I am dead—killed by the Law itself—in order that I might live for God. I have been put to death with Christ on his cross, 20 so that it is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me. This life that I live now, I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave his life for me. 21 I refuse to reject the grace of God. But if a person is put right with God through the Law, it means that Christ died for nothing! Galatians 2:19-21 (TEV)
401 ”To be nailed to the Cross!” This aspiration kept coming again and again, as a new light, to the mind and heart and lips of a certain soul. “To be nailed to the Cross?”, he asked himself. “How hard it is!” And yet he knew full well the way he had to go: agere contra—self denial. This is why he earnestly implored, “Help me, Lord!”
“I am my own worst enemy!” It is all too true!
It is why St. Josemaria’s “certain soul” would aspire to be nailed to the cross. It is why we need to be nailed to the cross, to see our broken lives stop entering into one vicious encounter with sin after another.
If only it were as simple as the Apostle Paul indicates, this sacrifice of our self, this denial of that within us that craves its own way, that demands to be nurtured. How incredible life would be, how simple and easy, how full of joy, if we could only lay down all self-interest. If Christ would so dominate our lives, if His desires were our desires, if His ability to love drove us to love the unlovable if we could make reconciling people to the Father our mission, as it was His.
If only we were all saints, for didn’t they find imitating Christ easy?
Of course, they didn’t. Of course, they struggled and had to learn self-denial the hard way, Although now that I think of it, it is not the hard way, it is the only way.
Paul tells us it is only possible by trusting in God, depending upon Him. St Josemaria indicates it happens as we implore Jesus to help us, to come to our aid. Without His involvement, self-denial is contrary to our reflex action. It will take a miracle to override our narcissistic nature, our desire to ourselves first, and automatic response of self-defense.
This is faith too, to be bold enough to ask God for the mercy that helps us rely on Him. It requires faith to depend on Jesus to temper our nature, and He will. That is the promise of our baptism! The promise that there we were crucified with Christ, united with His death.
This is His grace, His rescuing us from our brokenness, our wretchedness. This is what Love looks like, as Jesus rescues us from ourselves, and transforms us into saints.
Let us pray we depend on it more and more. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1558-1562). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought for our seemingly broken days:
18 All the people witnessed m the thunder and lightning, the sound of the trumpet, and the mountain surrounded by smoke. When the people saw it n they trembled and stood at a distance. 19 “You speak to us, and we will listen,” they said to Moses, “but don’t let God speak to us, or we will die.”
20 Moses responded to the people, “Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin.” 21 And the people remained standing at a distance as Moses approached the thick darkness where God was. Exodus 20:18-21 HCSB
213 When you have fallen or when you find yourself overwhelmed by the weight of your wretchedness, repeat with a firm hope: Lord, see how ill I am; Lord, you who died on the Cross for love of me, come and heal me. Be full of confidence, I insist. Keep on calling out to his most loving Heart. As he cured the lepers we read about in the Gospel, he will cure you.
Reading the reaction of the people God led to Mount Sinai, at first I am confused. Why do they want to distance themselves from the God who had saved them from the Egyptians, the God they had cried out to save them?
Then I wonder if I am any different. Or if the Church today is any different.
We are in awe of those who seem visibly in tune, intimate even, with God. They are among those we sort of see as our heroes. That is, until they invite us along on their journey. The moment we hear them say that all they have done is possible for us as well, we treat them much as Israel treated God.
“We stand over here and watch as you approach God. We’ll stand close enough to know some sort of safety, but far enough away that we aren’t overwhelmed by His grace. We can be afraid of Him, but we don’t want to be close enough to fear Him, to be overwhelmed by His glory so much that we rever Him, that we adore Him.
Look at Moses words again, Don’t be afraid, for God has come to test you, so that you will fear Him and will not sin!”
We might read this and think the reason we will not sin is that of fearing punishment, of fearing His wrath, because we fear both the consequences now and for the future. That isn’t the reason we won’t sin. It is because of our fellowship with Him, and the trust that grows that impels us to call out to Him when the darkness of sin begins to cast its shadow over. We might not like the phrase “intimacy with God”, but it is that very intimacy that gives us hope, that draws us deeper into a relationship with Him, and as we grow in our love for Him, as we trust and adore Him and revere Him, then we are changed, sanctified, set apart to Him.
To use St Josemaria’s words, we are cured.
He has heard us.
He is here.
As He was for those in the desert, those He rescued to make for HImself a people. The people He would love, and care for, those through whom His place to reconcile the world would come true.
So let us hear the advice the Apostle Paul gave in his letter to Hebrew Christians,
16 Let us have confidence, then, and approach God’s throne, where there is grace. There we will receive mercy and find grace to help us just when we need it. Hebrews 4:16 (TEV)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 928-932). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our seemingly shattered days:
. 23 Instead, let the Spirit renew your thoughts and attitudes. 24 Put on your new nature, created to be like God—truly righteous and holy. Ephesians 4:23-24 (NLT)
237 Never lose heart, for Our Lord is always ready to give you the necessary grace for the new conversion you need, for that ascent in the supernatural field.
We approach that time of year, that is either full of excitement (and perhaps greed and envy) or is full of despair and grief.
Either way, these holidays can break our hearts, as what should be a time of grace, where love and peace are so clearly shown, are instead a place where we lose heart.
It is so easy to do, to allow what is going on to crush our hearts. As some of it should….for grief is a very valid, very painful emotion.
Even as we grieve, either for the loss of a good friend, or the state of the world, we need to have a goal that gives us hope, a goal that would be the light of the tunnel, that would leave us in the experience of peace.
The apostle Paul describes it as the renewal, as the Holy Spirit transforms our thoughts and attitudes, to find the righteousness and holiness that comes only through God’s work, as He draws us into His presence.
St Josemaria describes it as a conversion of the heart. As someone with a genetic heart challenge, this concept has slightly different meaning. Whether it is a seemingly simple problem like A-fib, or something more deadly like V-Tac, conversion is a process where the heart rhythm is shocked from its irregularity, from its broken pattern, into a normal and healthy pattern.
In the medical field, this is often done with a defibrillator, as the body is given a powerful electrical shock which overrides the heart rhythm, which will cause it to start again, normal and strong.
The word of God and the Sacraments do this spiritually, as our encounter with God overwhelms our broken rhythm of life. They overwhelm the rhythm, they stop us in the midst of our out of balance life and remind us of God’s presence, His love, His mercy, That He is here, and if our life is in rhythm with Him, we become more and more aware of His presence.
Living life in rhythm with God won’t stop the tears, living life in rhythm with God won’t immediately fix all wrong in our lives and in the world, But it will awaken us to see the work God is doing, that we are set apart to Him, that we are forgiven, that He is healing our brokenness. Living out of rhythm with God blinds us to this grace. blinds us as well to His comforting presence, which so many of us need right now. But as
So I pray for you, whatever it is that has you out of rhythm, whether it is you own sin, or the weight of the sin of the world, whatever the brokenness, whatever the grief, that God would”convert: you, giving you the gift of transforming the rhythm of your life, and simultaneously, draw you into the glorious peace that occurs when we know we are in His presence. (and please pray the same for me)
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 1006-1008). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days:
4 But even though we were dead in our sins God, who is rich in mercy, because of the great love he had for us, gave us life together with Christ – it is, remember, by grace and not by achievement that you are saved – and has lifted us right out of the old life to take our place with him in Christ in the Heavens. Thus he shows for all time the tremendous generosity of the grace and kindness he has expressed towards us in Christ Jesus. It was nothing you could or did achieve – it was God’s gift to you. No one can pride himself upon earning the love of God. The fact is that what we are we owe to the hand of God upon us. We are born afresh in Christ, and born to do those good deeds which God planned for us to do. Ephesians 2:4 (Phillips NT)
195 Just now, Jesus, when I was considering my wretchedness, I said to you: Allow yourself to be taken in by this son of yours, just like those good fathers, full of kindness, who put into the hands of their little children the presents they want to receive from them… knowing perfectly well that little children have nothing of their own. And what merriment of father and son, even though they are both in on the secret!
St. Josemaria’s words give a definition to my greatest fear in life. That because of my wretchedness, because of who I perceive myself to be, I will never, ever do anything for God that pleases Him.
It just won’t happen, despite a desire to do it, despite an attempt to dedicate my life to serve Him, and led people to Him. There are days when it seems to happen, but those days are far apart, and seem more like an accident than anything I really do.
The challenge is in getting my mind off of my wretchedness, and see what God is doing around me. It’s not easy to do at times, as my own failures and wretchedness dominate my landscape. The sins that seem so obvious, and even the things I strive to do like my sermons, seem to fall so short, so often failing to show people what they need to know, the presence of God in their lives.
But it is that very presence I need to see, as God works through us, His hand masterfully, artfully guiding us, doing the work He planned for us to accomplish.
It is only by seeing His presence, by resting safely in His arms, that I can see this. It is only by relenting, and meditating on His love, that this assurance, this peace, can comfort a soul that is not as wretched as it thinks.
I know God does work through me, like the Father who helps the child create the gift to be given back to the Father. Or the Father who makes the gift the son brings truly become something special. What I need to do is let this amazing, wonderful truth sink deeply into my heart and soul, creating a joy that is described as unspeakable by the Apostle Peter.
I would imagine that I am not the only one….. so let us pray for each other!
Lord, Have mercy on us, and give us the ability to know this joy, to know that the Spirit works through us, doing what is pleasing to the Father! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 876-880). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought of the Day:
19 “Don’t collect for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal. 20 But collect for yourselves treasures in heaven, m where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves don’t break in and steal. 21 For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matt 6:19-21 HCSB
165 You must always remember that the spiritual faculties are fed by what they receive from the senses. Guard them well!
“You shall have no other gods.”
1 That is, you shall regard me alone as your God. What does this mean, and how is it to be understood? What is to have a god? What is God?
2 Answer: A god is that to which we look for all good and in which we find refuge in every time of need. To have a god is nothing else than to trust and believe him with our whole heart. As I have often said, the trust and faith of the heart alone make both God and an idol.
I really don’t like meditating on this passage in scripture, because if I do, then waht follows next is an inventory of what I truly treasure.
Add to it the words of Luther and St. Josemaria, and I begin to realize what I treasure, what I value, have slowly become my idols, and just as gently, they wean me away from my faith, my trust and dependence on God.
For there is no idol we create and feed that knows satisfaction. They desire more and more of our attention, more and more of our devotion, more and more time and money to satisfy them.
These idols may not be things we carve out of wood and stone, they can range from our health to our technology, to our careers, to even our family and their success. it might make more sense to ask what we value, what our priorities are, for it is the same question. What do we invest, not our money, but our time, and our thoughts in, because they are our top priority?
This is hard for me, there are a number of things I invest too much time, too much thought in, that can dominate my day, and often determine whether it is a good day, or it sucks.
So where is my hope, how do I break away from these idols, and see my support systems taken away?
Simply put, to treasure heaven, to treasure the intimacy with God that is ours because of the work of Christ Jesus. To put our focus on what truly matters, His love. His mercy. To take him up on his invitation to walk with Him, to dwell in His glory. To feast at His table, knowing that such is reserved for His people, His children, on those he’s called there.
These things we are drawn into, prayer, meditation on His message, the incredible blessing gives to us in our baptism, strengthened as we are told again, “your sins are forgiven” and nourished at the altar; they are not our work. We are drawn into this glory of God, we are declared to be His beloved, and transformed into that which receives that love, and can love in return.
We need to be drawn into that love, constantly. We need to know we are welcome there, not only that, that God desires us there.
That is the only answer to our idolatry. To hear His voice, to treasure His love…which means we need it revealed.
Heavenly Father, please help us to listen to the Holy Spirit in our lives. Reveal His presence through little children, through elderly saints, through our pastors and priests, so that we can drop our sin, our idolatry and cling to our hope in you. We pray this in Jesus name. AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 774-776). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Devotional Thought for our Days:
6 “This may seem impossible to those of the nation who are now left, but it’s not impossible for me. 7I will rescue my people from the lands where they have been taken, 8and will bring them back from east and west to live in Jerusalem. They will be my people, and I will be their God, ruling over them faithfully and justly. Zechariah 8:6-8 TEV
96 Discover Our Lord behind each event and in every circumstance, and then, from everything that happens, you will be able to draw more love for God and a greater desire to respond to him. He is always waiting for us, offering us the possibility to fulfil at all times that resolution we made: Serviam! I will serve you!
One of the books I am presently reading is Metaxas biography of Martin Luther. It is more than a bit distressing, as constantly Metaxas points out that what happened was out of control of everyone involved, especially Luther.
Why couldn’t the church simply reform? Why did the leaders not listen and discuss things like the Church did at the Jerusalem council? Why was the division and later shattering of God’s family so unavoidable?
As I read Metaxas account, it seems like the reformation was a huge tidal wave, that consumed all in its path.
So where was God in it all? Can we, as another Catholic Priest/Reformer of the Church advised, “discover Our Lord behind each event and in every circumstance”?
Personally, I find this difficult, I get overwhelmed by what seemed impossible to stop, Much like the people of Israel in the time of Zechariah. It was impossible for them to even think of the restoration of the people (not the nation) Israel. The people of God who struggle with Him (that;s what Israel means), yet are His people, for He is their God. Yet the prophet assures them that for God this is not impossible, but it will happen.
God will restore His people, He will call them to His side,, He will call them home together. It is God’s plan, His desire, His will, that we shouldn’t perish, and that He will call all His people home, together.
So how to grow in faith, in confidence that what God has promised, God will deliver? Even when the darkness seems to overshadow life? How can I trust, as Joseph did, that God means all of this for good? From the reformation which shattered the Western Church to arguments which threaten my own denomination today, that God will use these storms to bless those who love Him?
I have to look to the cross, the place where God seems the most vulnerable, even more, vulnerable than when He was in utero in Mary. To look to the cross as Jesus, fully God and fully man, is murdered by those who found God’s inconvenient and bothersome. As He died for all of our sin. The sin of the Catholics, the Protestants, even the Orthodox. s He died to cover the sins for those who do not know Him yet, but will as we reveal Him to them. It is there- when even nature went dark and shook with fear, to realize even in the dark moment, God was at work. Using the greatest evil Satan could ever con man into doing, turned out to be the greatest of blessings.
As God proved He is Immanuel, God with us.
As I look at a broken and fractured church, on his the supposed anniversary of the Reformation, my hope is in God’s promise, that not one of those in Christ will be lost, that He will call all of us home, and that He will continue to make us a holy people.
Lord, have mercy on us! Help us to see You in everything we encounter, and in all of History!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 553-556). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional thought for our days:’
9 Then he said, “You skillfully sidestep God’s law in order to hold on to your own tradition. 10 For instance, Moses gave you this law from God: ‘Honor your father and mother,’ and ‘Anyone who speaks disrespectfully of father or mother must be put to death.’ 11 But you say it is all right for people to say to their parents, ‘Sorry, I can’t help you. For I have vowed to give to God what I would have given to you.’ 12 In this way, you let them disregard their needy parents. 13 And so you cancel the word of God in order to hand down your own tradition. And this is only one example among many others.” 14 Then Jesus called to the crowd to come and hear. “All of you listen,” he said, “and try to understand. 15 It’s not what goes into your body that defiles you; you are defiled by what comes from your heart.” Mark 7:9-15 (NLT)
9 We use our tongues to praise our Lord and Father, but then we curse people, whom God made like himself. 10 Praises and curses come from the same mouth! My brothers and sisters, this should not happen. James 3:9-10 NCV
79 I will not stop repeating until it is deeply engraved in your soul: Piety, piety, piety! For if you lack charity it will be for want of interior life, not for any defect of character.
As I have talked to people since the Las Vegas shooting, as I have read articles, posts and tweets about it, one question is asked over and over. It is the same question that was asked after the Sandy Hook or Florida shootings, or the bombing in Oklahoma City, or even 9/11.
What defect is there in those who commit such horrors, what kind of evil lurks within them? What dysfunctional part of their nature causes such evil?
And two questions follow those:
“Can we stop this from happening again?”
And the question we are afraid to ask,
“Am I capable of such evil?”
Most of us would believe we aren’t capable of that level of evil, of creating such trauma, such horror. If you asked the Pharisees of Jesus day, they certainly didn’t believe they were capable of such evil; they were too holy. Sure, a little sin here, a little lie there, some unforgiveness and pride, even a smattering of gossip. But real evil?
Nah, not us. We’re the good guys, remember?
If that isn’t our attitude, the contrary position we take, seeing every moment in our lives as proof that we make Hannibal Lector and Hitler look like simpletons when it comes to evil. We believe our character to be broken, our dysfunctionality beyond salvation, our defects to irreparable.
We see the passage from Mark, and we know that there is something within us to cause such horror, we hear James and wonder how we can gossip or lie or brutally treat someone one moment, and sing A Mighty Fortress or say the Lord’s Prayer or the Apostles Creed the next.
Well, sin is pictured several times (including James 5) as an illness, a sickness, a disease that has weakened us. Yes, we are responsible for our thoughts, our words, our actions, but at another level, we are incapable of living life free from the bondage in which sin grips us. It is more than just a defect or dysfunction, this sin that so easily ensnares us.
I think St Josemaria points out the answer, as he mentions our interior life. Our struggle with sin as Christians is because we don’t understand what it means to dwell in the presence of God. It is that interior life, that time that we spend living in Christ, resting in His presence, being transformed by the Holy Spirit that provides the love we need to love others, and to love and adore God.
This isn’t some exercise in finding God, it doesn’t take a pilgrimage around the world, though there are places where realizing He is there is easier, like in a church as they celebrate the Eucharist, or in a gathering of people singing His praises. He is with you on that sleepless night as well, or in the heat of the moment, when you want to respond in anger, or in pain.
The interior life is simply living and recognizing the presence of God, and hearing His voice.
So call out to Him, give Him your burdens, pray that He will help you, confident of His promises too….especially when it is dealing with temptation, or with the ghosts of the past.
The Lord is with you! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 495-498). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our Days
Your old sinful self has died, and your new life is kept with Christ in God. 4 Christ is your n life, and when he comes again, you will share in his glory. 5 So put all evil things out of your life: sexual sinning, doing evil, letting evil thoughts control you, wanting things that are evil, and greed. This is really serving a false god. 6 These things make God angry. n 7 In your past, evil life you also did these things.
8 But now also put these things out of your life: anger, bad temper, doing or saying things to hurt others, and using evil words when you talk. 9 Do not lie to each other. You have left your old sinful life and the things you did before. 10 You have begun to live the new life, in which you are being made new and are becoming like the One who made you. This new life brings you the true knowledge of God. Colossians 3:3-10 NCV
3 My Father—talk to him like that, confidently—who art in heaven, look upon me with compassionate Love, and make me respond to thy love. Melt and enkindle my heart of bronze, burn and purify my unmortified flesh, fill my mind with supernatural light, make my tongue proclaim the Love and Glory of Christ.
“Hallowed be thy name.”
What does this mean?
Answer: To be sure, God’s name is holy in itself, but we pray in this petition that it may also be holy for us.
5 How is this done?
Answer: When the Word of God is taught clearly and purely and we, as children of God, lead holy lives in accordance with it. Help us to do this, dear Father in heaven! But whoever teaches and lives otherwise than as the Word of God teaches, profanes the name of God among us. From this preserve us, heavenly Father!
Paul’s words are difficult in verse 5, these words we hear as commands, as Law.
Put all evil things out of your life…
This sounds easy – that is until Paul defines it, then defines it more.
How are you doing with that? I pray you are doing better at it than I am.
It is a battle. A battle not between Good and Evil with Evil being those opposed to us, it is a battle inside each of us, to turn away from the evil we, to embrace good. But even this battle is a paradox, for we cannot do this by our own strength or will-power.
When we believe we are the masters of our spiritual development, when we believe we can put all these things out of our life by ourselves, we’ve fallen back into the trap of the evil one. Yet that is what we hear often when we read this passage, it is what our pride focuses upon.
What does it miss… the embrace of Christ as He died, that embrace that continues through His death to the resurrection. The beginning of life in Christ, and the being MADE NEW AND ARE BECOMING LIKE THE ONE WHO MADE YOU.
This is what St. Josemaria is talking about, as he points out a part of the Lord’s Prayer. It is God who makes us new, it is God who changes us, it is God who separated us from evil and our sin, and is our hope for staying disconnected from it. (that is not to say He is responsible if we return to it!) Therefore it is our prayer, our begging God to do what we cannot, even as we realize that He has not only promised this, it is His desire.
It is our need.
And it is how we let go of the evil that has bound us, as we adore our Lord for what He has done and is doing. We don’t actually create the separation, we don’t broaden it even, we just leave it behind as the light of the glory of God. His love revealed and realized draws us away from the life we had before.
We can pray for this, that God would do His work. Not that He wouldn’t do it if we don’t pray, but that as we pray we would realize God is at work, already doing this to us. This is what Luther was getting at in the small catechism. We pray this to know what God promised to do, and so we can realize it is being done.
It is being done, let us continue to pray we see Him doing it!
 From the Small Catechism: edition from Tappert, Theodore G., ed. The Book of Concord the Confessions of the Evangelical Lutheran Church. Philadelphia: Mühlenberg Press, 1959. Print.
Escriva, Josemaria. The Forge (Kindle Locations 242-246). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Devotional Thought for our days:
25 The LORD is good to everyone who trusts in him,
26 So it is best for us to wait in patience—to wait for him to save us-
27 And it is best to learn this patience in our youth. Lamentations 3:25-27 GNT
942 Pray that your holy ingenuity may achieve what your intelligence cannot attain, so that you may give more service of a better kind to everyone.
Surrender don’t come natural to me, I’d rather fight you for something I don’t really want than to take what you give that I need. And I’ve beat my head against so many walls Now I’m falling down, I’m falling on my knees
And the Salvation Army band is playing this hymn and Your grace rings out so deep it makes my resistance seem so thin!
So hold me Jesus, Cause I’m shaking like a leaf
You have been King of my glory won’t you be my Prince of Peace!
I hate waiting for an answer, for the solution to develop to the problems that exist, for the resolution that will end the conflict with the peace of God, that surpasses all human understanding.
I want to solve the problems, fix the brokenness, see the relationships healed, and everyone gathering together at the altar to praise God, and I want such solutions now. Why can’t I use my intelligence, which is supposed ot be a gift from God to solve these situations? Why must they require patience?
These situations don’t require patience, at least that is not the real issue.
Faith is. Trusting God is
Patience is just a part of what faith, what depending on God is all about. If I trust in Him, I must trust in His timing, I must trust in His plan, including the timing of it.
Satan would love to get us, saying we aren’t patient enough, and God wouldn’t really be patient with our impatience. He distracts us from God’s goodness, with a calendar or the second hand of a watch.
But again, patience isn’t the answer – it is simply a by-product of knowing and trusting in God. Of knowing His goodness, of knowing His intent to care for us, to even hold us when we are broken. That is faith, trusting in Him to do as He promised, even when we can’t see it yet. To let faith overwhelm doubt and impatience.
To realize the presence of God. To relax and know He is God, to be sure He is here… your Prince of Peace who holds you! AMEN!
Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3828-3829). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.
from Hold Me Jesus – by Rich Mullins
Devotional Thought for our days…..
19 If our hope in Christ is for this life only, we should be pitied more than anyone else in the world. 1 Corinthians 15:19 NCV
18 We all show the Lord’s glory, and we are being changed to be like him. This change in us brings ever greater glory, which comes from the Lord, who is the Spirit. 2 Corinthians 3:18b NCV
Paradoxically, a widespread decline in traditional religious practice in the West runs parallel with an ever-increasing hunger for spirituality. The question at the forefront of most of the great spiritual classics used to be “What or who is God?” Nowadays the characteristic question of the contemporary spiritual seeker is more likely to be “Who am I?” Great Christian teachers of the past such as Julian of Norwich understood quite clearly that these two questions are inextricably linked.
And I saw very certain that we must necessarily be in longing and in penance until the time we are led so deeply into God that we verily and truly know our own soul. (a quote from Phillip Sheldrake’s Spirituality and Theology in Webber’s text The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life) (1)
850 In your heart and soul, in your intelligence and in your will, implant a spirit of trust and abandonment to the loving Will of your heavenly Father… From this will arise the interior peace you desire. (2)
Who Am I?
I’ve been trying to answer that question for as long as I can remember. I see som many others trying to answer it as well.
Who is God?
Most people don’t bother to ask this, and those who do pursue it with an academic passion that is absolute, and yet nearly impossible to communicate to others simply. (this is why we develop creeds and confessions, statements of belief and doctrinal texts, and then wonder why they don’t sell as well as novels and religious fluff)
Some might even try to describe this in general terms as Webber’s citation seems to above. The older folk are more concerned with proving beyond a shadow of a doubt who God is (or isn’t) and the younger (gen X and Millennials ) struggling with who we are.
And without both questions being asked, neither is ever truly answered.
And in asking both at the same time, as Julian of Norwich and Augustine and Luther did, as Webber is trying to ask, we find the answer. In that answer is the hope and peace that we so need.
We can only define God in terms of His relationship to us, as our Creator, Redeemer, the One who makes us Holy, the One who loves us and is our Father, Brother, Friend, Counselor, Encourager, Comforter.
We only find out who we really are when we are defined by God, as He ministers to us. We may not like to hear it, but we have no identity outside of our identity to Him, our identity in Him.
it is in that definition of “who am I” that I find out I am loved, cared for, guided, That GOd is transforming us into the very image of Jesus, to be like Him, yet to be ourselves. And yet this definition, this transformation is far more than we know, for it is an eternal transformation.
Paul isn’t joking when He says without the resurrection we are a hopeless group of people. For a life trusting in God is not just about this life, and the change takes our entire life to begin to see. It may mean we live in hardship, it will mean that we deny ourselves, abandoning ourselves into the hands of the Lord whose love for us is seen in the scars on His hands.
Spend some time there, at the cross. Spend some more time there, at the altar, examining yourself and knowing how desperately you need Him, and the fact, HE IS HERE! And we will be with Him Forever! Everything we are in life flows from Him, and it is glorious and real, and now, and yet even more to come!
The answer to Who is God?
He is your God
Who are you?
You are His!
So live life, based on these words: He is our God, we are His People! AMEN!
(1) Webber, Robert E. The Divine Embrace: Recovering the Passionate Spiritual Life. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2006. Print. Ancient-Future Series.
(2) Escriva, Josemaria. Furrow (Kindle Locations 3487-3489). Scepter Publishers. Kindle Edition.