09 June 2014

Religious Reflections | The voice of the Lord flashes forth flames of fire

by Fabricio Mora
The Pilgrim's Religious Reflections

CCC ¶ 1691 "Christian, recognize your dignity and, now that you share in God's own nature, do not return to your former base condition by sinning. Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Never forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of the Kingdom of God." [St. Leo the Great]

The quote from St. Leo that begins Part III of the Catechism: Life in Christ contains powerful language and inspiring phrases: "recognize your dignity" "share in God's own nature" "base condition" "rescued from the power of darkness" "the light of the Kingdom of God." This kind of language catches the mind and lifts it up when really listened to. 

The language of Faith promises a radically transformed life, and not just transformed but divinized—"put away your former way of life, your old self, corrupt and deluded by its lusts, and [be] renewed in the spirit of your minds, and [clothe] yourselves with the new self, created according to the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness" [Ephesians 4:22-24]— and opens up the spirit to vistas of infinity: 
  • In the beginning when God created the heavens and the earth, the earth was a formless void and darkness covered the face of the deep
  • [Jesus said,] ‘I came to bring fire to the earth, and how I wish it were already kindled!' [Lk 12:49]
  • he said to them, ‘Do not be alarmed; you are looking for Jesus of Nazareth, who was crucified. He has been raised; he is not here.
  • He gazed into Heaven and saw the glory f God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God; and he said, "Behold I see the heavens torn open, and the Son of man standing at the right hand of God."
  • I saw one like the Son of Man [..] his head and his hair were white as white wool, white as snow; his eyes were like a flame of fire [...] his voice was like the sound of many waters; in his right hand he held seven stars, from his mouth issued a sharp two-edged sword, and his face was like the sun shining in full strength
  • A great portent appeared in heaven: a woman clothed with the sun, with the moon under her feet, and on her head a crown of twelve stars. She was pregnant and was crying out in birth pangs, in the agony of giving birth. Then another portent appeared in heaven: a great red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns, and seven diadems on his heads. His tail swept down a third of the stars of heaven and threw them to the earth. ....
Even the language of personal Faith is (ironically) incredible: 

Jesus answered them, ‘Truly I tell you, if you have faith and do not doubt, [...] if you say to this mountain, “Be lifted up and thrown into the sea”, it will be done. Whatever you ask for in prayer with faith, you will receive.’ [Mt 21:21]

‘Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.' [Mt 5:8]

Beloved, we are God’s children now; what we will be has not yet been revealed. What we do know is this: when he is revealed, we will be like him[!!!], for we will see him as he is. [1 Jn 3:2]

The words of faith are exciting and amazing, but we can all too easily fall into the trap of those words as background noise to our Sunday Mass obligation or rote recitation of prayer or living our faith life as “business as usual” instead of joyfully and profoundly. Meditating on our life in Christ ought to be awe inspiring (while humbling! "Remember who is your head and of whose body you are a member.").

We can take inspiration from writers like C.S. Lewis who describe life in Christ as a "campaign of sabotage" in "enemy occupied territory" fighting under "the rightful king [...] landed in disguise" and going to Church as attending a meeting of La Résistance "listening in to the secret wireless from our friends" in Heaven [Mere Chrsitianity]. A bit martial, perhaps, but exciting to be sure.

We should all work on describing life in Christ in words that inspire awe in ourselves and others and paying more attention to the words of Faith (especially in scripture and the liturgy) that are exciting and mind-boggling if taken at face value.

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