Saturday, May 18, 2013

In my own image (Part 2/2)

My dear brothers and sisters, although we are all created in the image and likeness of God, since the Fall, we have been trying to make God in our own image, and we continue trying so today. We attribute to God our own characteristics and warp his image to fit ours based on our wants and fears. For example, we focus on him being the almighty one, when we measure others by how powerful they are, the just one, when we seek revenge from those who hurt us, or the merciful one, when we want to justify the wrong we do or the good we don't.

We have developed a selective scripture memory, keeping only the verses that suite us and making God in our own image, while rejecting others. We say to each other, "didn't you know that Jesus did not condemn the woman caught in adultery? You see he said to her 'Neither do I condemn you'" [John 8:11];  we don't seem to remember him telling her in that same verse "Go and from now on do not sin anymore." We always remember his words, "ask for whatever you want and it will be done for you" [John 15:7], although we can never remember the first part of this verse, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you".  We recreate Jesus in our own image making him a friend who has no demands on us whatsoever. We hold on his love for us and quote him saying "As the Father loves me, so I love you. Remain in my love."[John 15:9]. We stop short from quoting the next verse "If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I kept my father's commandments and remain in his love" [John 15:10].

We  must be careful. We often try to fit the God of the universe into our own personal world, warping him into our image. In doing so we are loving ourselves first, not God, and therefore we are rejecting the first of God's greatest commandments: "You shall love the Lord, your God, with all your heart, with all your soul, and with all your mind" [Matthew 22:37]. We do not stop here. We often break the second greatest commandment "You shall love your neighbor as yourself" [Matthew 22:40] because we often make effort to make others in our own image. We start first with those who are closest to us, brothers, sisters, and friends, then as we get older we impose our image on our children and attempt it on every person that we encounter. We get hurt when others do not see the world as we do or do not act and respond as we want them to, and we react by throwing them out of our own garden for daring to differ.

A Father once summed up his homily by these words: "There is a God, and you are not it." My dear brothers and sisters, take a step back, let go, and remember his words: "Be still and know that I am God" [Psalm 46:10].  Yet, it is true that we are not called to be passive, we are after all in his own image, and he is not passive. We are called instead to participate in God's creation, but in our participation we must remain in him and acknowledge him as the source of everything, the beginning and end of everything.

How do we do that? How do we become such beings? Our true happiness and joy, our true growth toward God, is in becoming day after day more like his perfect image, his perfect gift, his divine Son and our human brother Jesus. We must cling to Christ, in his sacred Word, in his Church, and in disposing ourselves to his Holy Spirit, letting the grace of God the Father transforms us into beings more and more like Christ, perfect in everything. Rather than creating others in our own image, we must help others become like Christ. It is only in Christ that we become divine and eternal human beings, because he wished to share with us his glory.

My brothers and sisters I leave you with these words from St. John: " In this way the love of God was revealed to us: God sent his only son into the world so that we might have life through him. ... Beloved if God so loved us, we also must love one another ...  If we love one another, God remains in us, and his love is brought to perfection in us" [1 John 4:9-12].

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