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Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Who IS Our God?

Creation of the Sun and Moon by Michelangelo, ...Image via Wikipedia
The recent highlight in the papers recently (The Sunday Times, 6 February 2011, Home section, pg 8) on the issue of dress code in the Catholic churches have brought out some burning thoughts from my mind as I ponder on this tension of how we present ourselves before our God.

First and foremost, it is an issue that falls solely upon us Catholics Christians as believers of God we call Father. It is also an issue that only within this recent decades have emerged as a challenging dimension in one's spiritual life or lack of it in the context of our calling into the discipleship of Christ. It is also an issue that will determine whether we can effectively work out our baptismal calling and vows that want us and is pointing us to being truly people of God who are 'salt of the earth' and 'light to the world'.

It is therefore telling upon us as Catholics, in particular, that much of this brouhaha and tension arising from this matter can be encapsulated into the following statement that was towards the end of the article: "We are taught that God loves us no matter what we are, so why should the church discriminate against our attire?"

It is certainly true that God loves us no matter what we are. The whole of our Bible attest to that, Old and New Testament alike. But to stop at that or to simply choose to bracket our faith solely on that loving  action of God, is like seeing life and the question of God and the way we celebrate and express our faith with blinkers or with just one good eye. The view is myopic and half-truthful at best, disrespectful, distorted and on the borders of heresy at worst.

Much of what we encountered and are influenced by in the world of modernity of today, we have in some way living a life that is somewhat based on a measured freedom that, to some extend, allow us to do, say or acknowledge whatever one chooses. This is also an influence that has affected ourselves as a people of God who is '... in the world but is not of the world'. We are seeing that happening through this article in the papers recently.

Which brings us back to the question of God who '... loves us no matter what we are'.

I wonder just how each of us see or know God for who he really is.  With the kinds of images and responses which we can give to the question of who God is for us, there are many that is not truly the God I know that is revealed to us in the Scriptures and '... in the last days... has spoken to us by a Son' (Hb 1: 1 - 2).

This is because we seem to be rather lackadaisical about our faith that everything becomes relative to the secular dimension which in turn dilute the very power and glory of God which we are continously called to proclaim (1 Pt 2: 9 - 10). If we truly experience the real and active nature and presence of God in our lives, an experience of being taken out of darkness and into His wonderful light (and life), there would be no fighting over as to how to worship Him and what attire we wear. We would know what is the right thing to do. Our attitude, however, seems to have placed God, which is summed up in the following words by a German Dominican mystic, Meister Eckhart: "... you are acting just as if you took God and muffled his head up in a cloak and pushed him under a bench..."

What it boils down to, is our response to the fact '... that God loves us no matter what we are'. It is precisely because of that love that we ought to be able to give the necessary reverance and respect in return, which will form the basis of a decent and right ATTITUDE to use for any Mass or Eucharistic celebration.

What kind of a God that deserves such reverence and respect that we  quibble over? The whole of Scriptures have given us generous signs and clues and spiritual footnotes, where the few given here, can help us reconsider our attitude we now possess towards God.

In Genesis, as with the readings we have during these weeks, we see the Fall of man and woman in their disobedience to God and their lost of supernatural life that placed them into a state where they had to hide from his presence and the sound of his voice. Commentors have said that besides hiding because they were naked, it was also this presence and voice which they now could not bear. Psalm 29 gives us this idea what commentators are hinting at:
... the voice of the Lord is powerful;
the voice of the Lord is full of majesty.

The voice of the Lord breaks the cedars;
the Lord breaks the cedars of Lebanon...

The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire...
the voice f the Lord... shakes the wilderness of Kadesh...

The voice of the Lord... strips the forest bare...
and in his temple all say 'Glory!'
This is the God who, also in his reply to Job, gave a sweeping and majestic account of his powers and glory that signifies He is in charge: 
Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?...
... who laid the cornerstones when the morning stars sang together...
... who shut in the seas with doors when it burst from the womb...
... entered into the springs of the sea or walked the recesses of the deep?...
... cut a channel for the torrents of rain, and a way for the thunder bolts...
... know the ordinances of the heavens... establish their rule on earth?...
(Job 38: 1ff)
One can go on and on to see how much we have misjudged the very nature of God and by our lazy manner in addressing our relationship with Him thinking he is like any other things we use and put back to the shelf when we tire of him.

Seriously, I think we are like the disciples in today's gospel reading (Mk 8: 14 - 23) who were clueless about Jesus' identity and his power when he had to question their understanding after the feeding of the crowd on two occasion: "Are you still without perception?". The disciples were thinking about food when Jesus talked about the yeast of the Pharisees and Herod, while he meant them to look at the signs given that point to the message of the Kingdom and who the messenger that is in their midst.

I think we are doing just that today - ignoring God in our midst and immersing ourselves too much in the material realities of the world and being influenced by them. I believe we can do better than that. After all, He has given us, who believe, the power to become His children and what greater deed can any child to do than in honouring this position and gift by offering back a reasonable semblance of reverance and respect for our Creator who continues to love us and sustain our existence, no matter what we are.
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1 comment:

Playful Elena said...

Hello Fr Aloy,

Thank you for you blog entry. Totally agree with what you have written. God loves us as who we are. But, our response to Him will be reflected by how we behave, dress, carry ourselves, interact with the others and Him, etc. Yes, He will still love us as who we are. How about my love for Him? Have I taken Him for granted? Does it mean that since He loves me as who I am, I can go around killing people, committing sins, etc. and then I go back to Him and tell Him He has to love me as who I am while I continue with such sins? How about the Holy Spirt? Am I sure that I am living under the working of the Holy Spirit in me or under the other 'spirits'?

Maybe, we are bombarded or brainwashed by the media and advertisement promoting material wants and attention to self and self indulgence which seem to satisfy the ego of ours and this influence keeps on creeping into us without us being aware of it. I think that is even more important for me to pray daily so that I can re-focus on God.

I don't understand why there are so many issues on dress code. Is is really so difficult to get oneself covered decently? Is the person who tries to reveal as much of his/her body trying to show that he/she can face God naked without shame? Ironically, in this modern and more civilized world, we seem to be returning to the cave age where leaves were adequate to cover the important parts of the body. Are we returning to that age where only important parts are covered ultimately but with cloths of better quality? Don't even know ever since when less is beauty in the fashion world. Funny thing is we are supposed to practise the beautitude in our lives to be decreasing more and more about what we want and ourselves in order to have more and more space for God as one can only serve one master. Instead, some people are practising their own version of 'beautitude' in their dress code where less and less cloths are covering their bodies and yet less and less respect for God with more and more attention to self. Ultimately, it depends on whether I want heads to turn to me or God during the Eucharistic Celebration and that will tell if I want the focus to be on me or God in church. Who is the God here?

With Love,


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