Tuesday, February 28, 2012
Friday, February 24, 2012
There has always seemed to be a separation between God and I. For some reason when I stand to pray I can formulate words in my mind, or even as far as my heart, but often times I am still missing the listener. Aside from the division between my words and God’s ear, there seems to be a gaping difference between my prayers and the way I live my life: my words strongly contradict my daily actions and my daily actions are not a projection of one who prays. There seems to be this veil that I have cast in front of God that I often peak through when I feel holy but lock in place when I don’t want God to find me. This curtain makes me feel safe and allows me to conceal my fears and faults from an all-knowing, all-powerful, all-helpful Father. But is that it? Is that all my life is called to be; a “spiritual” life entrenching within a secular existence separated by an insurmountable curtain?
In the Gospels, the immediate moment that follows Jesus’s death, the writers include a seemingly “misplaced” verse. Luke says: “and the veil of the temple was torn in two” (Luke 23:46). What is the correlation between the veil of the temple and the death of our Protagonist that the writers would use such a highly vulnerable point in the reader’s attention to include such a foreign idea? Wouldn’t those few lines following Jesus’s death be better suited for words about His unquenchable Love or Shepparding care for humanity?
In the Old Testament Moses or the high priest of the time were called to be intermediates between God and man; the bridge that allowed the people to communicate to their God was another mere human. This mediator was the only person allowed past the veil that was hung in the temple. Yet what laid behind the barrier was the answer to Augustine’s concept of human “restlessness.” Behind the veil was the symbol of heaven and where “The Lord spoke to Moses as a man speaks to a friend” (Ex. 33:11). We were not granted to speak to God.
But after the crucifixion and the tearing of the veil St. Paul said in Timothy 2:5: “There is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus.” This concept of someone connected me and God has been completely abolished with the crucifixion because “the veil of the temple was torn in two.”
Now, allowed to reunite with God without a separation or intermediary, where in the temple do I choose to stand?
Yet as systematic as all of this sounds, the core issue has still not changed. I still have this curtain between God and I but this time it was not God who put it up in His tabernacle, it was me. I insist on dividing myself from a Father. I insist on making myself an orphan in this temporal world. I insist on turning my back on the God “who gave His only begotten Son, that whomever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.”
The veil is none other than MY sin; my personal sin. The sin that I hold onto and will not let go of; not even for God. And for some of us we know what that sin is and intentionally overlook it and insist on asking God why He chooses not to listen to our prayers. And still for others, we have not spent time “in the Light” to see where our filth lies.
Nothing speaks stronger to the potential of the relationship that we can have with God like the model set forth by Moses. Speaking to God as a friend is a simple formula that we (me above most people) complicate. If this all too short time that we spend away from the world in Lent is to be beneficial, we must focus on exposing ourselves before the merciFUL God. Spending time quietly and alone away from the daily routines of life is a vital method by which we can spend moments with God and examine the direction of our individual lives.
If I may, I would ask to leave you with this idea: this retreat away from the other 310 days of the year will be only as effective as the effort we are willing to put into it. If I take it upon myself to wake up early and sit with God before the world is ready to swallow me up with its “needs” and if I can silently pray in the midst of the day remember my Goal then to me, my Friend speaks and says: “I love those who love me, and those who seek Me find Me” (Prov 8:17). Keep in mind: “Behold, I stand at the door and knock. If anyone hears My voice and opens the door, I will come in to him and dine with him, and he with Me” (Rev 3:20)…am I waiting on the other side? Or am I not even home yet? If so, maybe next year’s lent will be better…