"Christian faith . . . is not simply a set of propositions to be accepted with intellectual assent. Rather, faith is lived knowledge of Christ, a living remembrance of his commandments, and a truth to be lived out."
- Pope John Paul, The Splendor of Truth, 88
"Believing in God, the only One, and loving him with all our being has enormous consequences for our whole life."
- Catechism of the Catholic Church, 222
When we begin to understand, really understand, who God is we are moved to live our lives in a new way.
Our God, the Yahweh God, is the source of everything that exists. God is I am, the God who gives being. Without God, nothing would be. But God has chosen to create everything that is and to hold everything in being.
God is far, far beyond us and our understanding. Yet, God is very close to us. Meditating on our utter dependence on God can move one away from acting as though the world centred on me.
It can move a person to gratitude for God choosing to give me the gift of life and for giving the gifts of family and friends, of the natural world, of an ordered universe. As I sit here in awe at these great gifts, I can see that the only proper response is to give everything back to God. But even if I give God everything, it pales next to what he has already given.
G.K. Chesterton writes, "It is the highest and holiest of paradoxes that the man who really knows he cannot pay his debt will be for ever paying it. . . . He will always be throwing things away into a bottomless pit of unfathomable thanks" (St. Francis of Assisi, p. 80).
In my gratitude, I can seek to make the best use of what God has provided. Instead of treating material objects as disposable, I experience them as God's gift. I seek not to dominate the natural world, but to treat material objects with utmost respect.
But, at the same time, I have an attitude of detachment to those objects. I do not gain my identity from my possessions for, if I do, those possessions have now possessed me. I gain my identity from God and I am merely the caretaker of objects.
Through my meditation on the Yahweh God, I come to know God's greatness and majesty. I gain a glimpse of the power of the God who created the roaring oceans, the vast expanse of the prairie, and the towering mountains. I am awed by the God whose mind can fathom every grain of sand on the sea shore. And I am overcome with emotion at the notion of a God who could manufacture the loving heart of a human person.
Indeed, we have God's promise that the human person is made in God's image and likeness. What great dignity has a person if he or she is like God! Such dignity must not be trampled on. It must be respected and nurtured so that it can become even more like God. Oh, how calloused we are in how we sometimes treat each other! We abuse the dignity of others in our idolatrous belief that we have some right to control others for our own good or pleasure. And yet there is also love.
In that love, we see but a shadow of the love of the God who made us and all that is. In such a loving God, we must trust. Even when times are tough, we trust. We know God made us out of love, not, as a sort of bad joke, for a life of futility. We can depend on God.
Trust and patience. These are not mere human virtues. They are attitudes to be expected in the person who knows God.
The life of a person who has come to understand the dependence of everything on God has a different quality than that of one who takes no note of God. It is awe-filled, grateful, respectful of other people and created things, and always trusts God.
This is not a moral superiority, but a different way of being.
What is most striking is that we don't always live up to this way of being. Too often, we are cynical, critical, indifferent, disrespectful. And when non-believers see that side of us, they are right to accuse us of hypocrisy.
For if we believe in this Yahweh God, our lives should be transformed. We will not merely think different thoughts, we will act different actions. We will live in a way so that Christ can be seen through us. Our lives will be transparent and the God who is the life of the world will shine through.
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