“Brothers and sisters: As God is faithful, our word to you is not “yes” and “no.” For the Son of God, Jesus Christ, who was proclaimed to you by us, Silvanus and Timothy and me, was not “yes” and “no, ” but “yes” has been in him. For however many are the promises of God, their Yes is in him; therefore, the Amen from us also goes through him to God for glory. But the one who gives us security with you in Christ and who anointed us is God; he has also put his seal upon us and given the Spirit in our hearts as a first installment” (2 Corinthians 1:18-22)
One of the obstacles that I find in giving Him to others is a wall that is often built around human hearts and minds. There are so many misconceptions about religious faith. So often in ministry, one finds oneself not being asked to actually respond to someone’s heartfelt hunger for God, but rather, being subjected to automatic replay messages from the past, laden with misconceptions concerning who - or even if - God truly is. That is why I shared these three key biblical passages at the beginning of this reflection. They reveal the very heart of a God who is very much alive. He is the answer to every human question. He alone is able to quench the desperate thirst that still drives men and women into the desert.
The word “Gospel” literally means “Good News”. There is Good News! God has revealed Himself to us. He is not hidden. The word “revelation” literally means to “unveil”, to make known. This is what occurred, is occurring, and will occur in Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ is the Self-Revelation of God. This God who fashioned the Universe is not simply a principle to be reflected upon, leading us to a set of propositions. He has been manifest, unveiled to us in His Son, Jesus Christ. It is in receiving this Divine Self-manifestation, hearing this “Yes” and believing, that we find the very meaning of our own lives as we enter into the life of faith.
As a young man, I began the practice of law, a profession that provided a backdrop for decades of my life. I was an assistant Prosecuting Attorney in Steubenville Ohio. The Chief prosecutor, my “boss” was a truly good man, in search of life’s deeper meaning. He was also a non-practicing Jew who had lost touch with the great faith of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Yet, his upbringing had planted a hunger for God in him. There was no pretense in this man. He was also misunderstood by others. His professional competence, though quite effective, led to his developing an external air that others often misread as haughty. I knew better.
One morning, right before I was to appear in Court, I walked in on my friend in a sad and vulnerable moment. Circumstances in his personal life had left him with no more wind in his sails. He was depressed and groping for a Rudder. I empathized with Him and listened as he unpacked his pain. At the end of this precious moment, this meeting of persons, he looked right into my eyes and shared words that would change my life: “Keith, if I were ever to believe as you do, God would have to become a human being, a person, as real as you are sitting in front of me.” I responded, “He has done just that my friend”. I then proceeded to share with him God’s “Yes”, Jesus Christ.
That experience deepened my lifelong passion to be able to give God’s “Yes” to others. That is what St. Paul is doing in the passage with which I began this article. He is addressing very real people in the church at Corinth. They were struggling to keep their faith alive in a culture that militated against its claims. Sound familiar? They were also at odds with one another in a nascent Christian community beset with discord. Sound familiar? He kept his message wonderfully simple, reminding them that in Jesus Christ they could find the Father’s “Yes” to the deepest longing of their hearts -that in and through Jesus Christ, they were also called to give themselves back to God, and, in so doing, they became the bearers of the Gospel for others. That was the message that I shared with my friend. That is our message to the world of our own age.
This holy exchange, where God gives Himself to us and we reciprocate by giving ourselves to Him, forms the foundation of all of the wonderful letters of St. Paul. He understood it well because he lived it. That’s right; He lived in the “Yes”, the holy exchange, and was being transformed in its fire. He wrote to the Philippians Christians in the second passage with which I began this reflection, concerning the “Kenosis” of Jesus Christ. This Greek word is unparalleled in our common parlance. We simply have no word with which we can translate it.
In this age inebriated on the stale wine of self love, the word “Kenosis” offers ...
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