God does not deal with abstractions. He is a person, and the Church is a person. The more that each one of us becomes a person, person in the sense of a fit habitation for God, daughter Zion, the more we become one, and the more the Church is herself.
Mary, the Church at the Source, 66
Reflection – It is November, month of the faithful departed. November, the grey month, the cold, damp month, the month with neither leaves nor snow, usually, the in between month, when the earth holds little appeal for us, and so our minds and hearts easily turn to heavenly things.This business of God being a person and dealing with persons, not abstractions, actually fits right into all of this. Because we can easily say ‘the faithful departed’, and somehow slip into some kind of ‘aggregate’ thinking—some immense throng of people who we hope God is taking care of in some way. It’s different, of course, when it’s our faithful departed—then we’re all ‘That’s not a throng! That’s Theresa and Raymond Lemieux, my parents! And
But that is how God is with each one of us, you know. All the billions of the dead, and the seven billion living, too. Each is known, each is loved, each is recognized, not as one of the throng, but as you, as me, as John, as Charlie, as Anne, as Terry… each is known.
And this is eternal life, I think. To be known by God, and to live in the eternal light of that knowledge and love. That is what it means to ‘become a person’ – to wholly evade this terrible tragic slippage into the mass of humanity, into abstractions or formalized existence or social conformity to the tropes of the day, into whatever may be the ritual expressions and postures of ‘The Church of What’s Happening Now.’ To entirely escape being a cliché, a type.
But this becoming a person only can happen to one who receives God, who receives this knowledge and love of God in such a way that his or her true self is brought forth with luminous clarity and exactitude, the personal genius and beauty of each one able to be expressed, because the content of the expression is residing within each one. And this content is the perfection of truth, goodness, and beauty which resides in the Godhead.
Ultimately, the only one who has been fully a human person is Mary who totally received Him and whose life was totally given to expressing his life in the world. The paradox (I guess) is that we become the person we truly are only in relation to this Other Person. Human life is lived in reference to God, or it ceases to be human life. When this openness to the infinite horizon is lost we quickly lapse into banality, into catchphrases and stock situations, into being one of the herd: sheeple instead of people, and what a gray, cold, damp experience of reality that ends up being.
God has something better for us, and this is what we really are contemplating in this month of November. Becoming a person, becoming vibrantly, radiantly alive to love, to truth, to beauty, to goodness, and in that, to each other, so that the true human community which is the Church can flourish, too.
It’s not an abstraction: it is God, you, and me. And it is not only for heaven, for some future reality, lovely as it may be. It is today, and the concrete choices we make today, that will make us persons or make us something less. And as persons, we carry within us the freshness of spring, the fullness of summer, and the blazing glory of the fall into the gray dark and cold of the dying world.