The Word Among Us
Thursday, Nov. 20, 2008
According to St. Irenaeus, “The glory of God is a human being fully alive, for our true life is the vision of God.” We catch that “vision of God” in the gospels, where we see in Christ an example of a man who truly was “fully alive.”
The gospel stories show us, for example, that it simply isn’t true that the holier we get, the more stoical and emotionless we become. Look at today’s story about Jesus weeping over Jerusalem (Luke 19:41). Here is the holiest man alive, and we see him filled with sadness and grief! Or think about the anger he showed when he drove the merchants out of the temple (John 2:13-17). So why do we sometimes fear our emotions or try to hide them?
When God made us in his image, he declared everything about us good. Yet the wound of original sin gave rise to selfishness, inordinate desires, and hostile aggression. Because of human sin, we’ve all been hurt in our search for love, and we’ve all experienced how destructive emotions can be. And so, to protect ourselves, we often build strongholds and defenses.
The problem with this strategy is that our fortresses can also keep us from the natural expression of true feelings. Kept bottled up for so long, these feelings sometimes jump out in defensive counter-attack and leave us feeling even more guilty. All the while, unhealed hurts and unmet needs remain locked up in our hearts. In the final analysis, our fortresses can leave us feeling cold, lonely, and only partially alive.
God wants to make us fully alive so that we can show the world what a healthy, balanced Christian life is like. He wants to free us to rejoice and mourn, to become angry at injustice, and to show our love for everything that is true and right and beautiful in this world. The next time you encounter a situation that provokes you to an emotional response, don’t deny your feelings or condemn yourself for not being holy enough. Instead, bring your reactions to the Lord. Ask him to purify them, and let him make you fully alive!