Immersed in Christ: March 21, 2020
Updated: 3 days ago
Saturday, Week Three of Lent
The Responsorial (Hosea 6:6 and Psalm 51) says God wants us to know him: “It is steadfast love, not sacrifice, that God desires.” The verse continues: “…the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.” God wants disciples.
Hosea 6: 1-6 shows us the predictable path of discipleship.
The starting point, as often as not, is seeking an escape from pain. “In their affliction they shall look for me.”
When we are “in the pits,” all we want is a return to ground level: a basically human, reasonable way of life. We want God to “heal” our human natures and “revive” us, as in “re-vivify,” make us alive again. We have hope that he will.
But our hope is focused on healing: restoring the level of life we received at creation, from which we “fall short” by following appetites, emotions and the culture instead of reason. (The common Scriptural word for sin is hamartia: to “miss the mark”). We want God to “raise us up, to live in his presence,” because sin is separation from the Good, the True and the Beautiful that are found in God as Creator, the truth that clarifies our own being; the goodness that puts order into everything we do. Whose rejection is disorder. As long as we are “in the pits” we cannot focus on God in himself; we go to God to escape pain. That is why most people went to Jesus.
But once out of the pits and restored to ground level we begin to “lift up our eyes to the mountain.” Now, feeling the intrinsic longing of our human nature for the “more,” we say, “Let us know, let us strive to know the Lord.”
This is a distinct and very important phase of discipleship. Now we are able to look at God just in order to know him. We can hear his words without immediately focusing them on our human needs. Now we can be students of God’s mind and heart.
This activates another level of hope: hope in enlightenment for its own sake; that is, for the sake of knowing Truth and Goodness as such; for the sake of knowing God. We may struggle with the discipline of discipleship, and feel discouraged when prayer and reflection seem fruitless. But our new hope tells us, “Certain as the dawn is his coming.” We await him like “the light of day,” with hope that he will “come to us like... spring rain that waters the earth.” We hope for union with him whose Light is Life: life on the level of God.
Now the focus turns to perseverance. God speaks out of his experience of humans: “Your piety is like a morning cloud, like the dew that passes away.” Discipleship requires commitment. As Woody Allen said about success, “Eighty percent of it is just showing up.”
But we need to show up with the right attitude, and the attitude, even to get beyond our needs, is need. In Luke 18: 9-14 Jesus tells us “those who humble themselves shall be exalted.” Discipleship is not accomplishment. It is begging. With “a heart contrite and humbled.”
Initiative: Seek to know God. Seek it with efforts, but receive it as gift.