Theology has two words to describe the space between God and us - transcendent and immanent. When we say God is transcendent, we speak of the One whose ways are not our ways, the placer of stars and maker of mountains. This is God who transcends our understanding, whose being goes beyond what we can know. When we say God is immanent, we mean His nearness to us. This is the way Jesus speaks of himself in today’s Gospel. “Whoever loves me keeps my word... and we will come to him and make our dwelling with him.”
The Hebrews saw God as intimately involved with the fate of their people. But for all His care, God was still distant to most. He spoke through prophets and was represented in blazes of fire and pillars of cloud. Priests offered animal sacrifice to atone for the nation’s sins. While we still know that God is transcendent - any morning’s resplendent sunrise confirms this - Jesus introduces us to himself in a new way. Not only does Jesus walk among us, but the Holy Spirit dwells within us. “The Advocate, the Holy Spirit... will teach you everything, and remind you of all that I told you. Peace I leave with you!”
How do you tend to view God? For many of us, the transcendent sense of a distant God might fill our perception. Today’s Gospel reminds us of something altogether different, something more intimate. Our God remains with us. He overcomes the confusion of the world and speaks peace to our troubled hearts. Our God is not far from us. The more we remain connected to Him and love as He loved, the more we will experience His nearness. We can have confidence in His presence and rest in His encouragement: “Do not let your hearts be troubled or afraid.”
I often lead group prayer with similar words: "Give us the wisdom to know Your will for our lives and the courage to follow it as we seek to make our community a clearer reflection of the Kingdom of God." The words acknowledge that we need to be about God's will, not our own, and in that journey, we will bear greater witness to the transforming power of Jesus Christ.
We talk about how we are called to live a stewardship way of life and that we have been given many good gifts, but it is never truly about us. We are never the main thing. In the same manner, it is never really about our parish. Our combined stewardship may lead to many fruits, like an increased offertory or more vibrancy in parish life. However, it is always about the Kingdom of God and the King, Jesus Christ.
Through our stewardship, we allow our parish community to shine like a city on a hill for others to see and then be drawn toward Jesus Christ. It is about leading people to heaven. Our actions of stewardship do not point toward us but instead to the one who calls us to this life. Our constant prayer needs to be that we always seek to discern God's will and follow it instead of our own. By doing that, we can transform our own lives, our parish communities, and then the world around us.
-Tracy Earl Welliver, MTS
God already has the solution.