In him we live and move and have our beingActs 17:28
We naturally desire and seek after love, goodness, truth, and beauty. But sometimes, our desires seem inexhaustible. This is explained by the fact that we were created by the infinite God to find our enjoyment in Him. Ultimately, God alone can fulfill our desires because He is the One who made all the lovable, good, true, and beautiful things we experience in this life, Himself being Love, Goodness, Truth, and Beauty itself.
His name is “I AM” (Exodus 3:14). He is infinite and mysterious, within all things but not identified with them. He is above all, but present to all. He simply IS, whereas all created things are contingent, having existence and various qualities only through participation in His existence and qualities. God is thus not present before us in the same way as created things. He is not one thing among many, but the very ground and condition for all to exist. The love, goodness, truth, and beauty of all things are exemplified in God, and thus all things are meant to be enjoyed in such a way that through them we might come to know, love, and enjoy Him.
At times, many of us can testify, we find that we get an intimation, a taste, of God, through an experience of pure and upright desire that for a moment draws our hearts beyond this world. Or we experience strong emotion or profound peace when we encounter examples or talk of righteousness, Godliness or divine Love, as if we secretly longed for these things (we in fact do!). Or perhaps we experience some diluted approximation of one of these experiences. But whether pure or diluted, even in such experiences we do not really see God, but we, so to speak, ‘touch’ Him by desire. He is hidden from our sight, but is in fact above us, below us, to our left, to our right, all around us, and within us. He is seeking us out, and waiting patiently for us to recognize Him. To this end, He has made Himself known in shadows and images in all times and places.
St. Paul, His Apostle, said this of Him:
The God who made the world and everything in it, being Lord of heaven and earth, does not live in shrines made by man, nor is he served by human hands, as though he needed anything, since he himself gives to all men life and breath and everything. And he made from one every nation of men to live on all the face of the earth, having determined allotted periods and the boundaries of their habitation, that they should seek God, in the hope that they might feel after him and find him. Yet he is not far from each one of us, for “In him we live and move and have our being.”Acts 17:24-28a RSV
God created us. We each come from God, and, like it or not, will return to Him. Because He is our highest good, we are meant to enjoy Him; and to do so, we must become like Him and share His life. This is the meaning of our lives. This is the high purpose for which we were created.
Our God is a consuming fireHebrews 12:29, see Deuteronomy 9:3
Let’s take this reflection a little further. God is good, cares for us, and is actively concerned about our life. Nevertheless, He is not tame. He wants to be found by us, but at the same time He is elusive and does not submit to our attempts to control Him: when we think we have grasped Him, fully understood His ways, in that moment He hides His face from us, challenging us to continue seeking. All good things are gifts from His hand, but He is not an indulgent parent. He is not a candy machine. He showers gifts upon us, and is gentle and kind with us, but He is also terrible and mighty, to be feared, for He will not cater to our whims, and will not spare us the rod of correction and discipline. As the Scriptures say, “Our God is a consuming fire” (Hebrews 12:29, see Deuteronomy 9:3). In this way, His mysterious, loving plan for us includes the depths of loss and suffering that we experience in life.
God’s goal in everything is always the greater good. Nevertheless, in His inscrutable wisdom He allows evil and suffering. This is often difficult for us to understand, let alone accept. In fact, sometimes it is impossible to accept His will without traveling a hard, steep, and treacherous path, as if climbing a mountain. The vast majority of us do not ever get to understand this clearly; though we still may gain its benefits, because He is the one doing the real work.
In the beginning was the Word … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among usJohn 1:1, 14
Again, let’s take this reflection yet another step further. This God, the hidden, mysterious ground of all that exists, who loves us and draws us toward himself, yet does not hesitate to correct and teach us through suffering – this God has entered into our history and revealed Himself so that we can have the greatest possible intimacy with Him.
How has He done this? First God entered into history by raising up and forming a people to be His own; this is the people of Israel, the Jews. Finally, God revealed Himself fully and definitively in the person of Jesus of Nazareth, the Messiah of Israel.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us” (John 1:1, 14). Jesus Christ is the one Word who exhausts the full meaning of who He is and what His plan is for us. Jesus is the only Son of God, the “spitting-image” of His Father. He shows us the way by His words, actions, way of life, and the gifts He gives us in the Church He founded. Most importantly, he shows us the way through the Cross that He willingly underwent in obedient love to God His Father.
Because God has entered history and become visible in Jesus Christ, we are now capable of knowing Him more deeply than previously possible. The meaning and purpose of our existence — to seek and find the hidden, infinite God — is now given a more clear direction. The difficult way that we must travel to find God — the way of loss and suffering — is clarified and made more bearable. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. May all praise, honor, glory, and blessing be His now and forever and unto the ages of ages! Amen!