Recognize God in the midst of chaos, crises


“God moments” can happen anytime, anywhere. Catholics celebrate saints whose lives were changed by such moments. Saul of Tarsus was struck blind on the road to Damascus, Augustine was led to Scripture when he heard a child’s voice directing him to “Take and read,” and Francis of Assisi was told by Christ from the cross to rebuild his Church which had fallen into ruin.

Such events teach us about the saints, but more importantly, they remind us that the Incarnation was not a onetime event and that God’s self-revelation lives on in people and events everywhere.

The Son of God came into the world as a babe in Bethlehem, but it was through the death and resurrection of Jesus that the Spirit of God continues to be revealed in every age, its entry point as unpredictable as it is ongoing.

Regardless of where a person might be on the continuum of their personal faith journey, God is there. The unifying presence and uncompromising inclusivity of the Trinity invites Christians to hope in the reconciling mystery of a monotheistic God who is Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

We profess faith in the Son of God, proclaiming, “Through him all things were made.” All creation is a projection of the unifying will of God. Therefore, every living being is implicated in all of creation and nothing is extraneous to the human person.

All love is self-love, all hate is self-hatred, which gives credence to the second great commandment that we are to love our neighbor as our self. We cannot love our self unless we love our neighbor, nor can we claim to love God if we hate our self or our neighbor because love of self and love of neighbor are reconciled in God who is Love.

In imitation of the Trinity, the three are intrinsically interwoven since every person is created in the image and likeness of God. In his book, “Called to Communion,” Pope Benedict XVI, then Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger noted, “We are all Adam, a single man writ large.”

Referring to what he called the “corporate personality,” he wrote, “Today the concept of subject is gradually unraveling: it is becoming evident that the ‘I’ locked securely in itself does not exist.”

Without this notion of the corporate personality, Pope Benedict explained, “it is difficult to enter into the notion of the Body of Christ.”

During his last discourse, Jesus prayed that “all may be one; just as You, Father, are in Me and I in You, that they also may be in Us, so that the world may believe that You sent Me” (Jn. 17; 21).

Jesus’ words go hand in hand with this year’s theme for the Prayer for Christian Unity: “Abide in Love.” Although the annual week of prayer ended Jan. 25, the theme lives not merely as a Gospel imperative, but as an actual experience. There will always be times when the presence of God is so palpable that there is no doubt that God’s self-revelation is ongoing.

To abide in God’s love is to know the peace and joy of God’s loving presence. Our experiences of God’s presence may never make it into “Butler’s Lives of the Saints,” but that doesn’t mean they are any less significant. God gives to each person according to his will and the need of his body.

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the emergency room battling an infection (not COVID-19), when I experienced one of those “God moments.” There were no blinding lights or heavenly directives, and yet it was as if a veil had been lifted.

With all the rooms in the ER in use, I was among 10 or more patients lying on stretchers in the hallways surrounding the medical station (so much for patient privacy). Amid what could have been a flurry of unbridled activity, kindness and compassion created an environment of harmony that was nothing less than Godly.

In response to the gentle touch of skilled hands infused with compassionate concern, patients whispered words of gratitude despite their pain, and I found myself thinking: “This is what heaven on earth must be like.” Every movement was measured, unhurried yet with such empathic precision that the space became holy ground.

It was as if everyone was floating in what St. John of the Cross once described as a “sea of love” when he looked around his world and saw God everywhere.

I hadn’t planned to write about my “God moment,” but given the times in which we live, it reminds me that God is present everywhere, in every moment, recognizable even in the midst of chaos and crises when we abide in love.

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