Faithfulness to our “religious” duty of caring for others … reveals the hidden God of Love for us
I think we’re all aware of what magnetism is? In simple terms, when two pieces of magnet are moved together, they attract (or repel!) each other: there is a hidden force acting around the metal which we call the magnetic field (which is simply the motion of electric charges).
Every material has a magnetic field – but we don’t think about it because we can’t see it. Most obviously, we see magnetism’s effects when magnets are moved close to each other.
Perhaps you’re wondering whether I’ve become a science teacher? No, I failed chemistry! However, I think it’s a simple analogy for the presence of God in our lives.
Most of the time we don’t consciously see God in our lives.
We usually need some event to reveal that a hidden force is acting on our lives or body. The question is: how sensitive are we to measuring/ registering that something has happened? When we can “register” that something has happened to us we grow emotionally/ psychologically = higher levels of happiness/joy.
Another good example is the results of an experiment done on babies in neo-natal care. Without human touch, the babies did not develop or progress – babies can die.
Babies that were touched did develop in more healthy ways at a fast speed.
Much of our world is now focused on individual pursuits to become rich and “happy.” It seems that we must always go “somewhere else” to find happiness.
However, we usually discover that happiness is not something we find, but something that comes as a by-product of something we do: sacrificing, sharing and caring for others.
The true reality is that happiness can be found wherever we are. I believe the bright light seen by the disciples symbolises a deep moment of joy that could not be explained or described.
When a boy falls in love for the first time, especially, people can see it in his outward appearance. It’s like he comes alive in a different way. It’s like the battery terminals have been connected and the car suddenly starts up full of power.
This, I believe, is what we are all looking for in life. In simple terms, perhaps poor Abraham had been a “mechanical” or fearful follower of God: just doing what he’s told.
However, when the angel stays his hand, he suddenly encounters God in a new way. The love Abraham felt for Isaac his son, is suddenly connected to the energy source of God: God is no longer a distant BOSS, but a friend and lover of people.
It reminds us that in our faithfulness to “religious” duty, we open ourselves up to encounters with God that will electrify us: like the magnetic attraction a person feels for their boyfriend or girlfriend.
Perhaps, we can say the first experiences are caused by hormones. But, as we know, romance from hormones doesn’t last very long.
The only way to recapture the intense romantic feelings experienced through hormones, is to live faithfully the “religious” life of caring for others, at least, as much as ourselves: that is, “WE are number 1”. Unlike the “worldly way” which seems to say “look after-yourself, You Are Number 1”.
In our younger years, we do need to focus on building up ourselves, but so that we can serve our community more powerfully, rather than just looking after ‘myself.’ As we grow older, true happiness requires us to give even more of ourselves away for the family and community.
Looking after ourselves is, perhaps, driven by the fear that no one else will look after me: and this feeling is a normal response when we throw God out the window. St Paul encourages us today: “With God on our side who can be against us?”
If we can faithfully imitate Abraham in our “religious” life, difficult as it can be at times, opportunities will come to grow to a higher level of consciousness and deep joy.
During this Lent, let us pray especially for couples who are struggling to stay together. May our support and prayers help them, like Abraham, to be faithful to each other,
and so reach a new level of encounter with God, through each other, as the God of love.
And, likewise for ourselves: what are we struggling to be faithful to? Can we see our struggles as “a test” like Abraham, not to fail, but to reach a higher joy?
By Gerard Conlan, OMI