How would you rate
your intimacy with God?
by Rev. Jack Peterson, YA
Reprinted with permission of "The Arlington Catholic Herald"
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index
Written to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
Jesus entered a village where a woman whose name was Martha welcomed him. She had a sister named Mary who sat beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Martha, burdened with much serving, came to him and said, "Lord, do you not care that my sister has left me by myself to do the serving? Tell her to help me." The Lord said to her in reply, "Martha, Martha, you are anxious and worried about many things. There is need of only one thing. Mary has chosen the better part and it will not be taken from her."
All three Scripture readings this week speak directly about intimacy with God. How would you rate your level of intimacy with God these days?
In Genesis, God appears to Abraham who runs to greet the Lord. Then Abraham begs God to stay: “Sir, if I may ask you this favor, please do not go on past your servant.”
In the letter to the Colossians, Paul speaks of “the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past … It is Christ in you.” At the heart of the Christian faith is the great mystery that God chooses not only to draw near, but also to come and dwell in us through the power of the Holy Spirit. In the Gospel of Luke, Jesus travels to a village and enters the home of Martha and Mary. Mary sits “beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak.” Once Jesus entered her home, Mary dropped everything and gave her full attention to the guest of all guests.
Human beings are built for relationships; we are built for love. It begins with God. After all, God fashioned us in his divine image and likeness. Since he exists as a triune God — Father, Son and Holy Spirit — relationships and love are at the core of his eternal existence, and ours. To focus on other elements of our existence and neglect this reality dooms us to an incomplete existence.
Jesus addresses this fundamental reality in a different setting in Luke’s Gospel when asked by a scholar of the law about the way to eternal life. Jesus responds: "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbor as yourself” (Lk 10:27). This is the greatest commandment of all.
The truth is clear and bears itself out in our daily existence. We are incomplete without God in our lives. Our souls long for God just as our bodies long for food and water: “Like the deer that yearns for running streams, so my soul is yearning for you, my God” (Ps 42: 2). We are lost, confused and without the possibility of flourishing when we do not engage in a relationship with God. In contrast, with God in our lives, we discover life-giving purpose, abiding peace and true human flourishing.
St. Francis of Assisi grew up in a wealthy home. His father was a successful cloth merchant who traded regularly with France. His younger years included a decent education, preparations to be a soldier knight and plenty of opportunities for fun with his friends. Adding to all this, Francis had a great personality and was a natural leader among his peers. In short, Francis had everything the world had to offer.
However, Francis gradually developed a deep sense that something was missing; there was more to life. God pursued him like the Good Shepherd seeking the lost sheep. After a few initial encounters with Our Lord, Francis began to take refuge in a cave on the outskirts of Assisi for prayer and reflection. One of Francis’ biographers, Johannes Jorgensen, recounts a turning moment for Francis after a night of partying with his friends. “And there it came to pass that the Lord again visited him. The heart of Francis, which was weary of the world and of its vanities, was filled with such a sweetness that there was room for no other feeling.” Not long after, Francis would forsake his father’s fortune, set off to give his life radically to the Lord and eventually begin the Franciscan order. We are incomplete without God at the center of our hearts.
The summer months are a time to slow down a little. They provide an opportunity to spend more time with God, sitting at his feet, soaking in his presence, listening to him, being healed and forgiven by him, and learning how to love from him. Take extra time this month to imitate Mary, the sister of Martha, to sit beside the Lord at his feet listening to him speak. Spend more time at Mass, in personal prayer with the Scriptures, and making a visit to the Blessed Sacrament. Go on a day trip to the National Shrine, the Franciscan Monastery or the Lourdes Grotto at Mount St. Mary’s. Give more of your time to an elderly relative, a friend who is hurting, a beggar on the street corner or a person who is mourning.
How would you rate your level of intimacy with God these days?
To Sunday Gospel Reflections Index