Friday, November 9, 2012

The Lord: Chapter 66, “God’s Coming and Going”

Dear friend,

Reading a theologian as thoughtful as Romano Guardini makes me realize how loose my thinking is about God. The prime mover. The something that started everything. A force out there somewhere that can affect things in here, just about anytime. God, for most of us a lot of the time, is an uneducated, casual guess. At least, when I look honestly at my own thinking about God, it’s seldom better than vague.

Guardini looks at chapters 13–17 of the Gospel of John and sees a God who who isn't the least bit vague, a God who comes and goes. Jesus says to his Apostles, “I go away, and I am coming to you.” He says he “came forth from the Father and [came] into the world.” Then he follows this up by saying, “Again I leave the world and go to the Father.”

What kind of God is this? Or is this way of describing God only an oddity in John’s particular way of seeing things—the delusions of an old man retired to Patmos? No, says RG, John “is precisely he who writes with the greatest penetration into the mystery of the eternal, unapproachable, all-inclusive God.” And John is not alone in seeing God as a comer and goer. “Over and over again the Bible refers to God as one who sees and hears and takes into account; as someone far removed who comes to us; who comes and is with us, speaks and acts.”

This God is precisely the one revealed to us by the Incarnation. Since the dawn of civilization men have been moved to make sense of what formed and directs the universe, and to reach out and propitiate that sacred force. But, writes Guardini, “the whole purpose of Jesus’ life is to replace our human conceptions of God; not only the primitive, grotesque [of early man], but also the highest, purest and most refined [of our most sophisticated philosophers].”

The whole purpose of Jesus’ life . . . What a striking thought. Jesus came to us so that my thinking about God isn’t so mushy. “He who believes in Christ thinks through him, feels the mysterious God who reveals himself in Revelation, the God of mystery and yet so familiar, so divinely superior both to ‘the gods’ and the ‘Supreme Being’ of human conception. Thought fails; only the word remains.”

The word made flesh. Jesus Christ is God. Why can’t we get that simple idea? Instead, we sit around water coolers speculating on what we think God is and how we think the world runs. When all along, we have been told. We hear, but don’t listen. God comes and goes, and lives and moves and has his being.

Among us.

Yours in faith,

This series of posts on Romano Guardini’s The Lord continues here with chapter 67.

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