Immersed in Christ: May 20, 2020
Wednesday, Week Six of Easter
The Responsorial (Psalm 148) declares God is evident everywhere: “Heaven and earth are filled with your glory.”
When we first gave ourselves to God in Baptism, we either knew nothing about God (if we were baptized as infants), or we knew less than we know now. Every day we learn a little more, both by discipleship and by experience, about who God is, what the mystery of Christian life is, and what it means to live it out in practice. That is why, each time at Mass when we re-present our “bodies to God as a living sacrifice” in the Presentation of Gifts by sending up a host that represents us to be placed on the altar and offered as Christ, we do it with more understanding of the commitment we are making. And more understanding of the God to whom we are making it, And more appreciation of the mystery involved in receiving and living the grace of Baptism.
In Acts 17:15, 22-18:1 Paul is urging this kind of growth to the people of Athens who, though sophisticated and intellectual, still had no clear concept of an infinite God. They worshipped many gods, symbolic personifications of many human truths and values. And there was value in their worship, insofar as it made them focus on certain real values of human life and dedicate themselves to realizing them. Vulcan, for example, was the personification of technology; Mercury of speed; Aphrodite of fertility; Venus of sexual love; Bacchus of celebration. Their devotion to these and many other “gods” revealed and fostered their appreciation for these values, all good, and all very respected elements in modern life and culture — as they should be. But for many of us, some of these values are just as much “idols” as they were for the Athenians. We just don’t name them as our “gods.”
Paul is not arguing against dedication to human values. He simply takes our thinking a step further by pointing out that recognition of these values, whether individually or collectively, falls far short of acknowledging “the God who made the world and everything in it, the Lord of heaven and earth,” the infinite Creator and Giver of being. The mystery of this God, Paul says, is that “in him we live and move and have our being.” This God embraces all created reality, including ourselves.
Have we grown into an understanding of the God Paul proclaims? God who is All Good, All we can desire on earth or in heaven? All we live for? For us, are “heaven and earth filled with his glory”?
In John 16: 12-15 Jesus says to his disciples, “I have much more to tell you, but you cannot bear it now. When the Spirit of truth comes, however, he will guide you to all truth.”
Christianity is life, and life is progressive. We gradually grow into greater understanding of our faith, greater intentionality in our hope, greater absorption in our love for God and others. This again is a reason to recommit ourselves repeatedly in the Presentation of Gifts: it takes more than one lick to drive a nail home.
Initiative: Keep recommitting as experience opens you to receive and give more.