"Everyone who belongs to the Truth hears my voice…" (John 18:37)

The Vulnerability of God

When you think of God, what image first comes to mind? If you read the Old Testament, it’s easy to focus on His omniscience, His power and might, for this is the God we see on nearly every page. But that’s not the whole story. The New Testament reveals another side of God – the One who desires to be intimately involved in our lives. He is the One who came to live as one of us, who allowed His life to be poured out for us, and all mankind. He is the One who, even after His death and Resurrection, did not abandon us, but continues to offer Himself to us each and every day in the Eucharist.

mother-mary-with-baby-jesus-i14At first, we might be taken aback by this knowledge – by the manner in which He has chosen to come among us. We live in a world that values power and might, not simplicity or humility, so the Cross – and especially the Eucharist – are stumbling blocks for many.1 Yet, what if we were to witness God’s power firsthand? Would we even believe it? Might we not find it forceful or heavy-handed? God knew this – that if He revealed His power and beauty all at once, it might be too much for us, so He chose another way: He made Himself vulnerable for our sake. First as a baby – tiny, gentle, helpless – and now, a simple piece of bread, yet so much more.

In the New Testament, we see how God – in the Divine Person of Jesus – chose to reveal Himself little by little. Mary, His own mother, carried Him in her womb for nine months; she raised Him and cared for Him for another 33 years before He began His ministry. Even the apostles – His closest companions in whom He trusted implicitly – came to know Jesus only a little at a time. Why should it be any different for us? We are impatient to know God (if we want to know Him at all!), yet He’s right before our very eyes.

God comes to us gently, quietly, almost imperceptibly in the Eucharist. He is hidden under the appearance of bread – not even bread, really, a small wafer – to give us time and space to accept Him, to allow our faith to grow. Fr. Fernandez writes, “We are perhaps in danger of not realising fully how close Our Lord is to our lives […] because God does not reveal himself in his glory, because he does not impose himself irresistibly, because he slips into our lives like a shadow, instead of making his power resound at the summit of all things…”2

But there is an inherent risk in God’s plan. He knows that He might be seen as weak or vulnerablevulnerable, that He might be dismissed as irrelevant or insignificant, or worse yet, a fantasy, “the stuff of superstition and primitive belief.”3 But He’s willing to take that chance. Better to risk rejection than to thrust Himself upon us. God meets us where we are – in our unbelief.

Most of us come to know God for the first time as children, when our minds are clear and uncluttered, unencumbered by doubts and fears. We are eager to believe in things unseen – the tooth fairy and Santa Claus and Guardian Angels. So it’s not a big leap to believe in Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, it’s the best time to come to know Him. Yet even as we age and grow and become “wise,” God wants us to continue to approach Him this way: with naturalness and simplicity, with the eyes of a child. It is our childlike faith, the Scriptures tell us, which will get us to heaven.4

eucharist-in-your-handToday, and every day, God reveals Himself to us in the Eucharist. He allows us to hold Him in the palm of our hands and awaits our ‘yes’ – our assent of faith. He allows such intimacy and vulnerability for a reason: because we ourselves are vulnerable; our lives and existence are so utterly fragile. When we look upon the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we are reminded of our own weakness, our need for Him at every turn. He is the source of our strength: our hope, our sustenance, our all in all. God holds us in the palm of His hands and, through His power at work within us, wants to shape and mold us – if only we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, too.

– Kelley Holy

 

1 Cf. CCC 1336.

2 Fr. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God vol. 1 (London: Scepter, 2000); 296.

3 Bishop Robert Barron, Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism (Skokie: Word on Fire Catholic Ministries: 2016); 50.

4 Cf. Matthew 18:3

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