It seems like the closer God comes to us, the harder it is for us to receive Him with faith. God as an abstract idea which may or may not exist is something most people are willing to consider. God the distant Creator who set order, beauty, and perfection in the natural world is still fairly safe and edifying. The God who reveals by His words the same standards of justice and righteousness that we agree with is comforting. The God who openly rebukes and condemns wrongdoing by the mouth of His prophets arrives at an uncomfortable level of proximity however – especially when we ourselves are guilty. So long as a prophet is personally removed from the people to whom he addresses God’s Word, a comfortable level of anonymity can still be maintained. But when the prophet is God Himself, and the people He is sent to – preaching and teaching – were His equals and superiors throughout His childhood that is mind blowing. Any degree of separation between religion and human life is destroyed. Immediate religion is offensive – especially when we lack faith. It is offensive because the holiness of the invisible God seems to require some degree of separation between what we are and what God is. Immediate religion is even more offensive when we lack faith because it forces our conscience out of hiding and sets before it a Word or judgement whose authority we would like to reject but cannot do so comfortably.
Saturday of the Thirteenth Week in Ordinary Time
Jesus ushers in the final wave of salvation history. This last wave is the one in which the greatest number will be saved and find safe passage to the Kingdom of God. This wave is an overabundance of God’s grace characterized by His Mercy. To have Jesus – God in the flesh – as a man amongst men, living humbly yet profoundly, is an invitation to consider perfection in a completely new way. The holiness of God comes uncomfortably close to us in Jesus. Many of us, if we consider our sins and shortcomings, would rather not be sitting next to the one who knows it all and is able to condemn us for eternity. “Depart from me Lord for I am a sinful man!” said St. Peter. Receiving forgiveness from God is one thing, having Him over for dinner and sharing a glass of wine with Him radically upsets what we would naturally perceive as the proper boundaries between what is Holy and what is mundane. Jesus certainly taught His disciples, but He would also listen to them: not only when He asked them questions, but also when they would simply speak about their lives and experiences. Jesus’ preferred title was not “Master,” or “Lord,” but “friend.” Indeed, what makes Him the Divine Physician is His desire and intent to become friends with every man and woman who have ever existed. If we accept Jesus’ gesture of friendship, we can be healed, be made whole, receive forgiveness, and understand how great the good news really is.