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OUR PICTURE OF GOD

SIXTH SUNDAY OF EASTER

How do you imagine God to be? This is what I asked myself these days and this is what I would like to ask you as well. When we think of God or we pray to him, what image do we have in our mind, what countenance do we relate with Him? Many artists have tried to give God a face, a description, a visible picture, helping us in our effort to visualize the idea of God, as also Mr. Kelleh Mansaray did in so many of our churches in Sierra Leone, but, at the same time, cheating us also in a way, because ‘no one has ever seen God’ (Jn: 4,12). Yes, the disciples had the privilege to know and stay with Jesus but at the end Jesus knows that his countenance will disappear from the eyes of those who will come after them and in fact, ‘happy are those who have not seen and believe’ (Jn:20,29) he tells Thomas who wants to base his faith on seeing and touching. (Jn:20,25)

But if we do not have an image or figure or picture of God, we have received instead much more, the Holy Spirit. We know him, He is with us and in us. Real!

So the liturgy now tries to focus our attention on this gift gained for us by Jesus on the cross, the Holy Spirit, the Advocate, the Spirit of truth who will remain with us for ever.

So will we never see? Never see God on earth? May be not in the way we expected, but there is a promise! Jesus in fact assures the disciples of all the future generations, that by keeping his commandments, and the commandment that he calls ‘his’ is the commandment of mutual love, they will be the ones who love him, and in return for their love they will receive the love of the Father and of Jesus, and he will ‘show’ himself to them. The Word becoming flesh pitched his tent among us (Jn:1,14). This tent was not folded up, and it seems that we can enter there only by keeping ‘his commandment’.

For this reason every Sunday we are called to come together in Church and experience the presence of the Spirit in us and among us.  Is it not true that sometimes, when the celebration is simple but solemn, the congregation one body with the celebrant, the attention to the Word proclaimed loud and clear, the songs inspiring and the fraternity visible, we go home with a special joy in our hearts? That joy and ardour fruit of perceiving his presence like at Emmaus?

When we are able sometimes to maintain that attitude at home, at work, with friends, are we not experiencing that God, though we do not see his face, is near us?

Sometimes instead we can undergo moments of pain, but even there we find his presence if we accept it like Jesus did on the cross. And above all, when we console those in pain, even those who think they were abandoned by God, don’t we experience that he is present in us and in our neighbour? Yes, it is as if we can see him. In fact, I would also change the answer of the catechism as we recite: ‘God made me to know and love him’, into: ‘God made me to love and know him’. First I love and then I feel loved and understand. 

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