Sunday, November 25, 2012
Praying to a Human God
I don’t want to pretend that things have been going smoothly all the time since I converted. There was a moment when too much introspection made it difficult for me. I was standing as a sentinel to my own feelings, anxiously waiting for my faith to assert itself in the face of adversities. The result was, of course, an excessive attention to myself. Instead of praying for my problems to be solved, I was trying to get ready for a potential disaster. Was I going to remain steady in my faith if something bad should happen? Peace of mind was not welcome, for I felt it was synonymous with egoism: If my son and husband were going to suffer, I wanted to suffer too. In the midst of these conflicting thoughts I shut down my heart. Probably something like this went through my mind: If loving Jesus means that I’m going to love my family less, then I won’t love Jesus. But in time my love for Jesus has grown to the point of no return. I know that only in him I can find peace. I keep thinking about what he said:
“Ask, and it will be given to you.”
What did he mean? Should we ask him to increase our faith or are we allowed to ask for what we need in our everyday life? In The Four Loves C. S. Lewis wrote:
“It would be a bold and silly creature that came before its Creator with the boast ‘I’m no beggar, I love You disinterestedly…’. God addresses our Need-love: ‘Come unto me, all you that travail and are heavy-laden…’. Thus Need-love, the greatest of all, either coincides or at least makes a main ingredient in man’s highest, healthiest, and most realistic spiritual conditions.”
But according to Jesus, asking is not enough. We need to believe that our request is going to be granted. He said:
“If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to the mountain,’ Move from here to there’, and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you.”
And yet, we can’t turn against God if He doesn’t answer our prayers. As St. Ignatius of Loyola said, we need to feel a “holy indifference” towards the things of the world. Therefore, we must firmly believe that what we desire is going to happen but at the same time we must not care if it doesn't. I struggled a lot with this paradox, but in the end I was able to overcome it through shear trust. I pray and I’m positive that Jesus will deliver, but deep down I’m aware that what I truly need is to be close to him. All the other things I ask for, no matter how necessary they might be, would be of no importance without his love. And, so, ultimately, I put my life into his hands.
Surprisingly, none of my pleas is as deeply felt as the one for my husband and my son to find faith. I’ve actually been moved to tears more than once while I was praying for Jesus to reveal himself to them. I want this to happen because a life lived in the awareness of the divine is a life worth living, but also because I feel they are the ones who truly need comfort.
My husband is inclined to acknowledge that there is a reality beyond the one we know, which may or may not include what we call God. As I said before, people have the most dissimilar notions of God. There is the personal God, who listens to our prayers and may intervene in our lives. Or the Aristotelian First Principle who, after creating the universe, sat back and didn’t care anymore. There is the biblical God, who made the world in a few days and chose the Jews as His people. Or the omniscient and omnipresent Primordial Energy that is contained in every atom. And I know of people who believe in a superhuman alien race that occasionally attempts to put us inhabitants of the Earth on the right track.
But Christians don’t have to be at loss for words to speak about God. For them God is revealed in the person of Jesus Christ, through the mystery of the Incarnation. He became a PERSON, someone we can feel close to our hearth, mind and even our to body. Someone who is easy to love.
at 2:35 PM