Monday, June 15, 2015

Bringing to life that part of us that is divine

Correct Christian doctrine has always held the firm belief that Jesus Christ was one person with two natures – human and divine.  His human nature grew and matured in the way any human being would, where, as scripture tells us, he grew and matured in strength.  He was not born as a super baby where he instantly took on the form of God in all aspects.  He was so human in his appearance and form that it was just not possible that anyone who looked at this infant, without the working of any infusion of knowledge from God, would say without a doubt that this child was divine. 

All of us have just one nature, which is human, but we are also called to divinity as well, meaning that we have a divine potential that can and should be nurtured and developed.  Saying this has a double-edged effect because there is great caution by many preachers and even theologians to downplay this great promise in us.  Those who are very conservative may hold the view that it can erroneously be the cause of an over inflated sense of self if each one of us walks around with a god-like ego.  One only needs to look at the ways which society is paying the awfully high price of an exaggerated sense of the false self where each person seems to be overly interested in making himself or herself the centre of the universe. 

But when this is taken in the right Christian sense where one rightly places God at the heart of life, one will grow this potential in a balanced way.  One then grows right from the centre, and not off-centered or eccentric, which is what “off centered” means in Latin. 

What does it mean to be in touch with the divine potentiality in oneself?  It has something to do with seeing the Kingdom of God in our very lives, and being instrumental in ushering this in by our lives.  Jesus gives us a very concrete listing of what can open the eyes of others to this kingdom when certain things begin to happen through us – lepers are cured, the dead are raised, the sick are cured and the devils are cast out.  At the heart of all of this is the thread of a great overturning.  What seems to be almost hopeless ends are now, in the kingdom of God, given an endless hope.  In biblical times, those situations that Jesus lists give the ones caught in these mired moments very little reason for living.  All of those who are in those are pushed further and further away from the heart of society to the edges and from the hearts of men and women.

When we are aware of our call to inner and outer godliness, those who for whatever reasons find themselves at the outer margins of society receive that necessary out-stretched hand of love and compassion to be brought back into the ambit of love and life.  Vestiges of this is seen when forgiveness is given in exchange for hurts caused, when charity is extended as a response to selfishness and self-absorption, and when love is shown despite a refusal to love in return. 

It doesn’t mean that living this way is easy by any means.  It will no doubt be painful in small and large ways.  It does mean, however, that one needs to swim against the currents of the world, where virtues like charity, compassion and forgiveness are at worst hardly extended, and at best, earned and deserved. 

But daring to live this way does something extraordinary.  It makes one godly, simply because this is what Jesus did as well.  In his encounters with his adversaries, in the face of hatred and injustice, he responded with a directly opposing power, founded on the love of God himself, where forgiveness overpowers transgressions, compassion trounces hatred, and love prevails over fear. 

And when the pain of living this way is felt, and we still persevere despite the aching soreness in our hearts, a pathway toward holiness and godliness presents itself before us.  If we welcome this pain (not in a masochistic way, but with love and godly hope), we will then also feel the pain of the world in sin.  This is what God did in the face of sin.  He felt the pain of the world, and didn’t turn from it, but absorbed and welcomed it on the Cross.  The only way that we can hold on to the pain – the pain of love, the agony of patience, of compassion and forgiveness, is when we know that we too are being held by the very One who went through this on a universal level on Calvary.  In the face of hatred, Christ refused to hate in return.

I am a firm believer that when we dare to live this way in the face of evil, that we become not just agents of change to a godless society, but that we can powerfully grow that seed of divinity placed in us. Jesus did not make any one of us earn this amazing grace in extending his salvation to sinners.  It was and always will be pure gift. 

Our imitation of this ‘gift’ sensibility when offering to those who hurt, abuse and misuse our love is what makes us godly.  It enlarges our hearts to allow us to live life not in small ways, but with a largess that gives us a divine character. 


  1. Thank you for this post, Fr. Luke. It comes at a time when I am experiencing the “aching soreness in our hearts” as you so accurately put it. It certainly puts things in perspective for me. For what are my little hurts compared to what Jesus had to suffer for our sake?

    The Cross is, and always will be, central to the Christian life. Or else Christ would not have asked us to take up our crosses daily and follow Him, would He? Love, in its highest form, demands sacrifice and does not seek recompense, or even reciprocation.

    But our human (fallen) nature rebels against this so violently. It would be impossible then, to love this way without the very grace that comes from God. I pray for this grace, Amen.

  2. “What does it mean to be in touch with the divine potentiality in oneself?”

    Reflecting on this, I felt that Jesus too- believes that his disciples ( and us ) has the potentiality to live the Kingdom values for in the Gospel readings in the earlier part of this week he exhorted his disciples to - not return evil for evil ( Mat. 5:38-42), not to exact just punishment for a wrong or hurt -as prescribed by Mosaic law and not only to temper our response with loving kindness and mercy – but to take a step further to do or will the good of the perpetuator of the wrong! ( Mat. 5:43-48)- when He said “But I say to you, ‘ Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you...........You, therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect’?” How can we pray for someone who means us harm?

    He knows it can be done because to all believers, God has given the power and grace, through the Holy Spirit to conquer all – even our hurts, fears, prejudices and griefs. Aware of this divine potentiality in us, we therefore must ask for the grace to faithfully nurture it so that we can try to be ‘perfect as the Father is perfect..........’ - to be whole and wholesome as we were meant to be.

    Furthermore, Jesus, in telling us to love our enemies is actually teaching us to love ourselves more. If we hate our enemies, we may eventually be so fully consumed by hatred that we sully everything we touch with this darkness and so we may have hurt ourselves more spiritually- than hurt the enemy we hate, in the flesh. No wonder we were told that one tears oneself apart by hating!

    God bless u, Fr.


  3. Dear Father Luke,

    Deeply appreciate your articles, especially this one!

    Now that I am in Singapore I have time to reflect on my life in in Australia. I always run around and help others and at times succumb to self-neglect. Occasionally even feeling unappreciated when my good intentions were misconstrued.
    Temptation sets in and I feel like stopping but continue again. It's like a painful vicious cycle. Imagine what your writing has done to me and for me?
    I often tell myself to reverence the Divine in others, yet strangely I forget that I have a divine potential as well and I thank you for reminding me and helping me grow!

    You celebrate Mass with such reverence and your Homily, as always, pack-a-punch. We are so blessed to have you.

    God Bless you abundantly
    Patricia Manuel-Drummond