Sunday, June 17, 2007

Why doesn't God make himself visible?

Again and again, this question arises: Why can't God just show himself, directly manage our affairs, then we will believe him and follow him? Frankly, I've thought about that myself so many times. It seems to be a frequent question, among many other people.

It's a question John Paul II and Benedict had to address a number of times.

John Paul II remarked that this type of questioning is only of recent vintage. For many centuries, it was obvious that God is God -- an infinite Mystery. And we are mere creatures -- limited, and really nothing in front of the Maker of the 120 billion galaxies in the "observable universe."

In fact John Paul said, God "has gone as far as possible" in showing himself: he became one of us, his creatures. He became man. "He could go no further. In a certain sense he has gone too far!" Proof of the above is the complaint of the Jews and the Moslems against Christianity. God is God, they say. He should keep his distance!

Benedict had his own chance to deal with this issue, when a kid was astonished when his teacher told him Jesus is present in the Eucharist: I can't see him!

What do you think was Benedict's reply? Well, he talked about electricity! "There are many things that we do not see but they exist and are essential. For example: we do not see our reason, yet we have reason. We do not see ... an electric current, for example, yet we see that it exists; we see this microphone, that it is working, and we see lights. Therefore, we do not see the very deepest things, those that really sustain life and the world, but we can see and feel their effects."

In God is Love, Benedict insisted that God has made himself visible --in Jesus.

He even said that God is "visible in a number of ways." What are these ways? Of course, he mentions Jesus' appearances in the bible, and also his visibility in people who "reflect his presence."

Then he says God is visible through the words in the Bible, through the sacraments (water of baptism, the forgiveness of the priest in confession, for example), and especially through the Eucharist, the white bread we see lifted up during Mass.

For me, that white bread is God-Love who is making himself visible today. If you see God from this perspective -- from an idea that the essence of God is self-sacrificing Love rather than power-tripping Omnipotence -- then it makes sense that he is visible as a piece of bread, available as supreme food for people he loves.

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