Recognize God’s Love for Us

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QuotesPraying ItBasking In It – Digging Deeper – Making It Real

Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, includes a beautiful exposition on the story of the Wedding Feast of Cana. He explains that the reality of God’s generosity as evident in the superabundance of the miracle of changing water into wine is the same generosity as the sacrifice on the cross:

There is another basic element of the narrative linked to this timing. Jesus says to Mary that his hour has not yet come. On an immediate level, this means that he does not simply act and decide by his own lights, but always in harmony with the Father’s will and always in terms of the Father’s plan. More particularly, the “hour” designates his “glorification,” which brings together his Cross, his Resurrection and his presence throughout the world in word and sacrament. Jesus’ hour, the hour of his “glory,” begins at the moment of the Cross, and its historical setting is the moment when the Passover lambs are slaughtered – it is just then that Jesus, the true lamb, pours out his blood. His hour comes from God, but it is solidly situated in a precise historical context tied to a liturgical date – and just so it is the beginning of the new liturgy in “spirit and truth.” When at this juncture Jesus speaks to Mary of his hour, he is connecting the present moment with the mystery of the Cross interpreted as his glorification. This hour is not yet come; that was the first thing that had to be said. And yet Jesus has the power to anticipate this “hour” in a mysterious sign. This stamps the miracle of Cana as an anticipation of the hour, tying the two together intrinsically.

How could we forget that this thrilling mystery of the anticipated hour continues to occur again and again? Just as at his mother’s request Jesus gives a sign that anticipates his hour, and at the same time directs our gaze toward it, so too he does the same thing ever anew in the Eucharist. Here, in response to the Church’s prayer, the Lord anticipates his return; he comes already now; he celebrates the marriage feast with us here and now. In so doing, he lifts us out of our own time toward the coming “hour.”

We thus begin to understand the event of Cana. The sign of God is overflowing generosity. We see it in the multiplication of the loaves; we see it again and again – most of all, though, at the center of salvation history, in the fact that he lavishly spends himself for the lowly creature, man. This abundant giving is his “glory.” The superabundance of Cana is therefore a sign that God’s feast with humanity, his self-giving for men, has begun. The framework of this event, the wedding, thus becomes an image that points beyond itself to the messianic hour: The hour of God’s marriage feast with his people has begun in the coming of Jesus. The promise of the last days enter into the Now.

God Makes Himself Vulnerable To Us:

Making a step toward friendship with someone or even *being* friends with someone makes you vulnerable in many ways and can, at times be a frightening thing – or at least something where fear can get in the way and prevent you from making that step. My mind, at least, tries to put these road blocks in my way – “Ugh. Maybe they’ll think I’m stupid or presumptuous. Maybe I shouldn’t say anything at all.” Friendship does sometimes cause extremely painful misunderstandings. There’s a significant risk there, especially to someone who is sensitive about such things as relationships.

Of course the rewards of friendship are much greater and entirely “worth it”, but not everyone can make it past that first big hurdle and I know, for me, that first hurdle can be very intimidating. There is also a significant sense of relief when my offer of friendship is accepted by the other.

Discussions on the Internet can be like that too. If I really share my opinion, which may not be fully formed, will I sound stupid? will some people misunderstand me or dislike me?

There’s a certain degree to which the practice of humility is necessary in making such steps. It also reminds me of the charity and openness and understanding I should have towards others who are reaching out to me.

So I was interested to understand in a new way, in a portion of Pope Benedict XVI’s Jesus of Nazareth: From the Baptism in the Jordan to the Transfiguration, how God models for us a participation in such risks. God came down and made Himself vulnerable to us. Wow!

This is from Pope Benedict’s commentary on the Our Father, in the segment entitled “Hallowed Be Thy Name”. I’ll try to summarize here along with a few choice quotes:

First, he brings up the obvious connection of “Hallowed be thy Name” with “Thou shalt not speak the name of the Lord thy God in vain.”This leads to a detailed discussion of God revealing Himself to Moses in the burning bush. In one sense God doesn’t give himself a name “among other gods” as if he’s one of many:

God’s answer to Moses is thus at once a refusal and a pledge. He says of himself simply, “I am who I am” – he is without any qualification. This pledge is a name and a non-name at one and the same time.

Pope Benedict also points out that God didn’t actually refuse Moses’ request. He gave him something very significant which establishes a relationship with mankind.

God establishes a relationship between himself and us. He puts himself within reach of our invocation. He enters into relationship with us and enables us to be in relationship with him. Yet this means that in some sense he hands himself over to our human world. He has made himself accessible and, therefore, vulnerable as well. He assumes the risk of relationship, of communion, with us.

The process that was brought to completion in the Incarnation had begun with the giving of the divine name…. God has now truly made himself accessible in his incarnate Son. He has become a part of our world: he has, as it were, put himself into our hands.
This enables us to understand what the petition for the sanctification of the divine name means. The name of God can now be misused and so God himself can be sullied. The name of God can be co-opted for our purposes and so the image of God can also be distorted. The more he gives himself into our hands, the more we can obscure his light; the closer he is, the more our misuse can disfigure him. Martin Buber once said that when we consider all the ways in which God’s name has been so shamefully misused, we almost despair of uttering it ourselves. But to keep it silent would be an outright refusal of the love with which God comes to us. Buber says that our only recourse is to try as reverently as possible to pick up and purify the polluted fragments of the divine name. But there is no way we can do that alone. All we can do is plead with him not to allow the light of his name to be destroyed in the world.

And so God is our true model for friendship and charity (and much more!). He comes to us in love despite fallen man’s tendency to manhandling. And how He loves us!