Sunday, July 29, 2012

Crazy Messy Humanity

On the one hand we find ourselves before a strictly metaphysical image of God: God is the absolute and ultimate source of all being; but this universal principle of creation—the Logos, primordial reason—is at the same time a lover with all the passion of a true love. Eros is thus supremely ennobled, yet at the same time it is so purified as to become one with agape.

We can thus see how the reception of the Song of Songs in the canon of sacred Scripture was soon explained by the idea that these love songs ultimately describe God's relation to man and man's relation to God. Thus the Song of Songs became, both in Christian and Jewish literature, a source of mystical knowledge and experience, an expression of the essence of biblical faith: that man can indeed enter into union with God—his primordial aspiration. But this union is no mere fusion, a sinking in the nameless ocean of the Divine; it is a unity which creates love, a unity in which both God and man remain themselves and yet become fully one. As Saint Paul says: “He who is united to the Lord becomes one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).

Deus Caritas Est

Reflection -  Well, my weeks of family ministry are over for the year, now that I have completed both my Cana Colony week and Nazareth week. I always look forward to this time of the year and that particular variety of priestly ministry. Besides being a lot of fun, I have a great love for families and children and the whole messy, maddening, massively difficult vocation of marriage and family life.

I think marriage, for me as a celibate, points me to something very deep about God and the whole reality of God and man, this strange messy, maddening, massively difficult reality of Life itself and how God and we are wrapped up together in this mystery. God is love; God loves us; God unites himself to us in love.

How easy it is to say all these things. How clich├ęd they become, how trite. But the reality of it is anything but. At the heart of reality, the heart of humanity, the heart of life, is the fact that we are made for a relationship, that this Other stands before us, above us, all about us, and beckons us out of ourselves into a passionate love affair, not with this woman or that man, but with the God of gods, the Lord of lords, the maker of heaven and earth.

The image of marriage then, and its lived out messy reality, is central to the whole meaning and point and purpose and essential reality of my life as a celibate and every human beings life as a person. God summons us out of ourselves and towards Him, and in this summoning there is union, the two do become one flesh, one heart, one mind, and out of that union does come a bliss beside which sexual consummation is small, and a fruitfulness beside which the begetting of a hundred children pales in comparison.

And of course this bliss and this fruitfulness is what every human being, married, celibate, single, is called to, although we who are consecrated to celibacy are invited to make this a visible concrete reality in our whole way of life.

But the point is not celibacy—the point is God! God’s love, God’s passion, and God’s action in taking us to Himself—this is the great mystery of humanity. It is a mystery we will not fully grasp (or perhaps even grasp much at all) until we see Him in heaven. But it is there nonetheless.

The strange and beautiful aspect for me is that the married couples I know who are trying to live a faithful Catholic marriage embody this mystery in a very nitty-gritty way. All the dirty diapers from babies and dirty looks from teenagers, all the toil of inter-marital communication—the call to forgiveness, to understanding, to listening, all the endless routine of household work and financial stress, all the constant, ceaseless, overwhelming demands that require you to forget yourself and serve the other(s), to put everyone else’s needs before your own—all of this reveals something so very deep about God, about Christ, and about the human vocation.

It is beautiful, and that’s why I love families so much, in all their crazy messy humanity. So I heave a sigh of regret at being done with family camp ministry for another year, and plunge back today into my own version of crazy messy humanity in the MH community of love. Talk to you all again tomorrow.

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