instruere...inlustrare...delectare Disputations

Monday, August 30, 2004

Our God is a consuming fire

Yesterday's first reading from the Lectionary has one of my oven mitt verses. As curious and confident as I am, I'm likely to be burned by this if I handle it directly:
What is too sublime for you, seek not, into things beyond your strength search not.
What is too sublime for me? I'm not sure. There are plenty of things I don't understand, and even more thing I can't understand. But I suppose the most sublime thing of all is God Himself, Whom we are to love with all our heart and mind and soul and strength, which suggests we ought to seek Him in some fashion, even if to look on His Face is death.

I suspect the secret is suggested by a previous verse from Sirach:
My son, conduct your affairs with humility, and you will be loved more than a giver of gifts.
If we conduct our God-oriented affairs with humility, He will love us. When faith seeks understanding humbly, the seeker does not expect to fit the mysteries of God inside his head, nor to wrest from God knowledge God does not want him to have. The humble inquirer is like a beggar at the door of a kind-hearted rich man; he knows he will receive all he needs, and likely more besides, even as he knows there is much more within he will never taste.

Yesterday's second reading teaches us something that is not too sublime for us to approach: have approached Mount Zion and the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and countless angels in festal gathering, and the assembly of the firstborn enrolled in heaven, and God the judge of all, and the spirits of the just made perfect, and Jesus, the mediator of a new covenant, and the sprinkled blood that speaks more eloquently than that of Abel.
And if that is not too sublime for us, there can't be much that is -- if, again, we seek it humbly, searching dependent on God's strength rather than our own.