Monday, August 24, 2020

When we love someone, we allow him or her to amaze us. Do we see this in God as well?

Our catechism tells us of God’s attributes, and that he is omnipotent, omnipresent and omniscient – all-powerful, all present and all knowing.  These attributes are succinct ways to show that there is no higher power than God, and because of that, he is truly above all and the creator of all. We declare this every time we profess our faith in the Creed, and say that he is light from light, true God from true God, and that through him, all things were made.  

This being the case, can anything we as creatures do that can in any way, shape or form impress or amaze God? Since he is God, almighty in every way, it is ultimately he alone who can truly say that he has ‘been there, done that, bought the T-shirt and the mug’ to everything and to every experience possible.  

As he isn’t just beautiful but beauty itself, can anything that is created by us or even created in nature that could captivate him?  That would be impossible.  Philosophically, Aristotle himself says of God that he is the unmoved mover because if all motion were to trace its origins from the act of motion that caused it, to the one that caused that other act of motion, back to the very first and original act of motion, one would arrive at a prime mover, or the one whose act of motion has no origin other than itself, and this would be God, the unmoved mover.  

If this is so on the level of philosophy and existence, does it apply in the same way to God on the level of affection?  Can God be ‘moved’, as it were, affectively?  

There is actually biblical evidence that supports this seeming incongruity in God, as Jesus himself is described by the gospel writers as being ‘amazed’ and that he ‘marveled’ at least twice.  In one instance, Jesus marvels at the faith that is displayed by the Centurion who sent friends to ask that Jesus not come to him personally, but to heal his beloved servant who was suffering from an unnamed illness at home.  In the other, Jesus himself encounters a Canaanite woman who pleads humbly before him for him to heal her daughter who was being tormented by a devil.  Here, we are told that he exclaimed, “great is your faith”, which is a demonstration of Jesus being amazed at her display of faith.  In some translations, we even see Jesus being ‘astonished’.

These two pericopes from scripture show that though Jesus is God, there is something that human beings can actually do to astound and even to fascinate God.  This power lies in every single human being, and that includes you, my reader of this blog.  Do you want to know how you can astound and be able to cause God to marvel at you?  

It is actually something that is very easy to do, yet so few of us know that we have this strange and very humbling ability.  It is when we activate our faith in God.  The two gospel passages have one thing in common.  In both of them, faith was activated and demonstrated and when Jesus noticed this, it was something that he somehow was so delighted to see that it made him take special notice.  And in both cases, the activation of faith was made by non-Jews, or gentiles, who were the people outside of the House of Israel.  

If God is all-powerful, how is it that something as small and seemingly insignificant as the activation and demonstration of one’s faith cause him to marvel and to be astounded? That is because the ability to be astounded and amazed really has its roots in love.  

We only need to look at how parents of infants and toddlers have such an unmistakable power to astound, surprise and delight their parents.  And often, they only need to do the simplest of acts, like opening their mouths to say ‘dada’ or ‘mama’, or make a word from the lettered bricks that the child is playing with, like ‘dog’ or ‘cat’.  The father or mother may be a high ranking tenured professor at a renown university with a string of degrees behind his or her name, yet a very simple act like this can literally cause the parent to be astounded and truly delighted, and to almost walk on air for the day.  This is not so much because of the fact that something of intelligence came out from the child, but because this was his or her child, and that before any of that could be done by the child, the parents loved the child first.  

The very same action would be received with much less delight and enthusiasm from an onlooker who has no relationship at all with the child in any way, shape or form.  And because an ‘outsider’ doesn’t have love for the child, any action that the child does will not have any power to amaze and astound.

This being the case, it should delight us to know that we don’t have to move mountains in order for us to be noticed and be delighted by God.  Because God is love, any action that we do on our part to convey a love for him will have a certain spiritual symbiotic effect.  If we are getting up from bed in the wee hours of the morning so that we can spend some time taken from our comfortable sleep to pray and to show in a very demonstrative way that we are loving God and putting aside our own needs and preferences, it will show that we are showing great love for God and great faith as well.  

When things don’t go the way we would like, but surrender our anxieties to God and submit it to the hands of God in the way that Jesus did when he breathed his last on the cross, we are activating our faith and also showing great love for him.

This power that we have in seizing God’s notice is stridently different from the way that a vast majority of his children often do.  Letters of petition written to ask for divine help in so many of life’s challenges are countless.  Candles lit at altars and shrines all over the world bear witness to the many hearts that cry out for God’s attention, especially when lives and health experience afflictions and debilitation.  Of course, there is nothing wrong in prayers of petition, and the Church has always encouraged its faithful to turn to God in their moments of need.  

But imagine how any parent or friend would feel if the only time they get to hear from their beloved is when they are in trouble or in dire need?  In the same way that an “I love you” thrills and delights when it is said with no particular reason or with no ulterior motive, an activation of faith from our hearts to God with no particular reason or ulterior motive will delight and even astound God.  

How do we know this?  Jesus the God-man showed delight, surprise and amazement when this was demonstrated by people who were not even among the lost sheep of the house of Israel.  That’s you and that’s me.  

Know that you too have the very same power and it lies in your faith, and the power’s origin lies in the fact that God loves us unconditionally.

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