Our uncertainty continues as once more we are thrown back on our own resources as individuals and families. The lives of all of us are impacted, our anxiety and doubt are real, and we feel our humanity sharply. In our world which is so often oriented towards achievement and success, we know the frustration of being unable to ‘fix’ this pandemic.
I recall someone saying once, ‘The real question isn’t so much whether God exists but whether God ever thinks of me!’ - more than a pious thought, I suggest. Much of our teaching about God seems to focus on a God who seems to do little or nothing but simply watches – a characterisation of course, but one that keeps God remote from us. In fact, anything we say about God is incomplete, as St Augustine teaches, ‘If you think you have understood God, then it is not God that you have understood!’ (Sermon 52)
Thankfully over time, each of us develops a personal spirituality – the outcome of our life experience, faith formation, religious practice and beliefs, life in family and Church – our response to the ‘fire within us’ and our engagement with the deep hunger for meaning within each of us which guides us in our deepening relationship with God. A strong theme in the Scriptures is that of God as constant presence – God-with-us – God within – God alive in us and present in our neighbour – the energy and fire of the Holy Spirit dwelling within us.
In light of the above, a helpful insight may be that of our God as ‘one who remembers’, one who remembers each of us… and of course memory makes the other present. So we are present to God at every moment and God to us. This sense of presence reminds us of the ‘energy’ that God brings to this relationship with us – one way of understanding God’s grace, the life of God that courses through our veins, enlightens our minds, fills our hearts, transforms us within. The following quotes from theologian Bill Huebsch in A New Look at Grace: A Spirituality of Wholeness may be food for our soul at this time:
- ·Grace is God’s self-communication to us. It’s experienced as a divine loving energy (or power) which comes from God alone, is completely free and is offered to every human being.
- ·Grace alone can make us whole. It lets us be precisely who we’re made to be. It is received and celebrated in community with each other.
- ·Sanctifying grace is God’s free and generous gift, sometimes called the “state of grace,” that ongoing disposition to live and act in keeping with God’s call. Actual grace is the effect in the human personality of that gift. It is God’s support for us in individual instances.
- ·Do you realize what this means? It means that God’s own life – a full surge of Divine energy, God’s grace – is with us. And it isn’t just with us in some abstract and artificial way. It fills our bodies and our souls to the very top, it means we are empowered to forgive, to accept without judgement, to give without asking for return, to love without end.
- ·This is a power that can do marvellous things! It can heal and bind people together, give comfort and peace, offer affectionate love and create new persons, rest peacefully and disturb the comfortable! This is how we will live together forever, in this love.
- ·This is grace: God’s powerful force of love within us, implanted by God and sustained by God. There’s really nothing else like it in all the world!
May the gift of grace help you to remain calm and trusting in the God within! Fr Dave