January 14, 2019 by eneubauer
I love using the Liturgy of the Hours as a guide for daily prayer and reflection. It’s like a one-stop shop providing hymns, prayers, and readings from sacred scripture, the Saints, and early Church Fathers. With my busy life, I like having one “go-to” resource to keep me on track and focused.
Last, Friday, when I took time to reflect on the Office of Readings certain themes jumped off the pages revealing aspects of God’s character that have always inspired me. The theme that caught my attention was the fact that God is present. He is intimately involved in the lives of his children providing tangible guidance, wisdom, and understanding to name a few.
In today’s culture, both Christian and secular, many have accepted the belief that God is just another word for an “intelligent being.” This being made the world, set it in motion and left us to figure it out. To say it another way, God is afar off, an aloof being, inaccessible to man. God is a nice idea!
However, sacred scripture tells a very different story using both the old and new testaments to reveal God as one who is intimately involved in this world and our lives – so much so that he even intervenes, from time to time, using signs and wonders (miracles). St. Maximus says it this way
“But Christ the Lord does all these things: in the column of fire he went through the sea before the sons of Israel; so now, in the column of his body, he goes through baptism before the Christian people. At the time of the Exodus the column provided light for the people who followed; now it gives light to the hearts of believers. Then it made a firm pathway through the waters; now it strengthens the footsteps of faith in the bath of baptism.”St. Maximus of Turin
An excerpt from his sermon, “The mystery of the Lord’s baptism”
At every turn, Christ is there as the one who both rescues and leads. He is not only there when we are faithful and obedient, but he is also there when we stumble and fall. He was running ahead of his chosen people as the light and now resides in our hearts as the light which provides guidance and direction for us – even in our most turbulent times. The whole reason St. Maximus uses examples from the stories of Exodus and the baptism of Jesus is to undergird the idea that Jesus has always been and will always be with us in a very tangible way.
Do we have eyes to see – Jesus?
I was going to Africa. I had long wanted to go and missed my first opportunity because of an injury I received in South America. Years later a friend and missionary asked me to join him in his work among those suffering from HIV/AIDS. I sold my racing bike and saved enough for the plane ticket and ground expenses. When that was paid, I was basically broke. As I was heading out to the airport a friend stopped by and gave me a $300 jacket for my travels. I was so excited I put it on immediately and wore it throughout my travels.
As I approached the airport I reached in the jacket pocket and pulled out a sizeable financial gift and a note of encouragement. I was blown away. See, if we only have eyes to see you will find Jesus in the most unlikely of places. He is there, often through others, when we need him the most and provides in the most mysterious and amazing ways. Oh, I could chalk it up to the simple kindness of another Christian. Or, I could just admit that God is at work, inspiring others, through the Holy Spirit to show us, love to care for our physical needs, to be there when we need him the most – in very tangible ways.
This was not the first time nor the last that God showed up in my life through the generosity of others. It has never been when I expected it. He has NOT bailed me out of every bad decision. However, through his gifts and graces, Jesus has revealed himself to me in ways that cannot be ignored or explained away. Jesus is inviting us to lean into him, to open our hearts and to experience him in fresh ways this new year. It’s time to embrace Jesus as he reaches out first to embrace us.