It is thought by many that once we stand in the presence of God all of the universe’s mysteries will be revealed simultaneously and we will become fully aware of the who, how, what, when and where of God’s will and purpose. That should be an interesting day! Imagine finally understanding the ‘God’s honest truth’ about creation, our reason for being and a peek into the mind of God. Unfortunately, (or fortunately depending how you look at it) we need to pass on from this life to the next to get 4-1-1 on that bit of news. Now, it’s not like we have nothing right now that we can use to get a glimpse of what was, is and is to be. God has provided sacred scripture, the prophets and saints and the universe itself to help us do a little imaginative preview of this massive knowledge dump to come. Since we are presently creatures that are limited to the five physical senses and eons of natural and cultural ‘common sense’ we learn based on taking what we experience and what we are told (by sources we put our trust in) what we hold as the truth. To borrow from C.S Lewis: We may have never been to Siberia, but we ‘know’ that Siberia exists because we may have seen pictures, or had one or more trusted sources tell us that it does. We placed our ‘faith’ in the veracity of that source. The very same ‘logic’ applies to our faith formation. Whether we be the most ardent of atheists or one of Christ’s 12 disciples our knowledge of God is most likely developed by what we have been told, or read or seen in our everyday lives. My point here is that we must choose our sources carefully. For unless we do have some sort of miraculous vision or visitation from one of our Lord’s holy messengers, where we place our faith for this most important decision is going to stick with us for a very long time.
This isn’t the first time that I have argued the importance of ‘doing the research’ and checking the facts. I’m of the opinion that most Americans do more research in purchasing a car or big screen TV that they do on their faith based beliefs. This is sad, because once you do vet the sources and get into the details it can be quite comforting to know that the most important thing in your life rests on solid ground. Now on the other hand, there is a lot of misinformation out there that has kept millions of people from fully embracing their personal relationship with God. For instance, take the canon of Grace. Many otherwise staunch believers pull up short from a total commitment because they believe that they may have done something, or will do something that makes them ‘unworthy’ of that relationship. They believe that God’s Grace is meant only for a special few. This is the product of perpetuating our own human mantra of ‘you get what you deserve’. But I strongly implore you all to do the research and dig into God’s Grace because it will change your life. You will find that through God’s grace we truly DO NOT get what we deserve. So again, make sure that your sources are bible based because that is the only true source of God’s intentions.
The other day I was flipping around the dial (remember when TVs had dials?) I came across a re-broadcast of the Mother Angelica Show. Not sure of the real name but basically this older catholic mother superior takes calls and questions from the audience about the catholic faith and does her best at answering them with some very straight talk and at times a little sarcasm and humor. (Now she’s someone that I would like to have dinner with.) The question was, ‘How can God be love, but also be a jealous God as it is stated in Exodus 20:4-5, “You shall not make for yourself an idol in the form of anything in heaven above or on the earth beneath or in the waters below. You shall not bow down to them or worship them; for I, the LORD your God, am a jealous God…”
Mother Angelica went on to explain that God is not jealous the way we are (of course!). When we are jealous it is normally because we want something that someone else has. God on the other hand, as our loving Father, is ‘jealous’ for what we will miss if we make other creatures, things, or our selves more important than Him. (I use quotations because there are often some nuances lost in translation when you are talking about scripture.) He is ‘jealous’ when He considers what one of his children loses when they turn away from Him – the life that they could have. He is jealous, not for anything that we may have – God needs nothing and does not desire anything but our love. He is jealous for what could have been – like a parent when they see the full potential of their child misdirected or lost. He knows us and how He created us. He knows that we cannot be fulfilled with anything but what He provides – He is ‘jealous’ for our fulfillment. Now as a parent I can get that.
So you see, it is important to get the facts, but it is absolutely critical to get the facts from the experts on the subject matter. Thanks Mother Angelica. (BTW – Mother is still alive at age 92.)