Same Image, Different Perceptions
Thanks to man's fallen nature, heresy can easily creep into our culture and poison man's thinking. The Sacrifice of the Cross has been forgotten in favor of skipping to the Resurrection. Over the last half century this is exactly what has happened and goes against all that Christ revealed. Yet, blinded by the devil, man has closed himself off to God, greatly altering the concept of Who God truly is. Instead man, forgetting that God is always open to us but not our sins, pettifogs what His Divine Will is as always expressed through Divine Revelation.
"When we see two people hugging, we do not know who traveled and struggled the most to make that hug possible, who lovingly approached whom and who humbly sought the other. This society will either tell us that God is such an easy hug that we do not even have to earn or work for that eternal hug, or conversely that God is such an impossible hug that it is not worth even trying to seek His loving embrace. Both images of God are false and lead to ultimate perdition. The only true, accurate image of God is the one that teaches us that God is ready, willing, and able to embrace us if and only if we seek Him out by obeying, trusting, loving, and following Him. In a society that increasingly rejects God or does not even bother to seek Him out, this third and true Image of God becomes more blurred everyday."
Yesterday's Gospel recounts Jesus' first miracle and it brings home the fact that not only is it a manifestation of "Ask, and you shall receive" but presents an image that even today can be so misunderstood. If we think about many instances where Christ performed a miracle, we notice a recurring pattern. In many such cases, Christ traveled a great physical or symbolic distance and the recipient of that miracle traveled a small physical or symbolic distance. This pattern is seen by both traditional believers in the true Faith and so-called progressive, modernist observers, but from a distorted sense of order.
The Lord's Long Journey
Our Lord's entire ministry involved a long symbolic journey from Heaven to earth, from Divinity to humanity, from Heavenly royalty to earthly poverty. His life involved the long journey from a relatively obscure birth to a much more known and public existence and death. He was the One Who came to the crowds whom He later fed with the loaves and fish. He was the One Who came to Peter in the sea. It was left to Peter to then travel the much shorter distance to his Lord. In every town where Jesus entered, it was He Who had made the long journey. At the Last Supper Our Lord made the long symbolic journey from Master to Servant as an example to His disciples. His Passion was obviously a long and painful journey on many levels as well. His subsequent resurrection is clearly a long journey from the depths of death to the light of life. Even when He made himself known to the men He had met on the road after His death, it was He Who had made a long journey to be at that place at that time. Lastly, He made the long journey from earth back to Heaven and will repeat that journey at the end of time. In this last case, of course, the length of that journey between Heaven and earth is a symbolic distance in that there is a wide gap between Paradise and this earth!
Our Short Journey
Christ had to become man, but all those He came across had to do was approach Him. As He entered any town, the residents merely had to approach Him within a short distance of their homes in most cases. The boy at the multiplication of the loaves and fish merely had to step forward from the crowd. Peter merely had to walk a few feet (albeit on water) to reach his Jesus. At The Last Supper the apostles merely had to accept their Master's example of humility. Witnesses to His Passion had a much easier and perhaps shorter or more direct journey to Calvary. Those who came in contact with Christ after His resurrection did not go out of their way to do so but merely witnessed Him during the course of their own daily lives. Once He made himself known to the men on the road, it was left to them to recognize and acknowledge what they had seen and felt, certainly not requiring a long physical distance. Lastly, through His Passion and ultimate Sacrifice, our road to salvation has been made infinitely easier and more direct if we follow His example.
Who Approaches Whom?
The final question on this issue involves timing. When we come into contact with Our Lord, does He come to us completely, do we go to Him completely, do we meet Him halfway, and who approaches whom first? At first glance this whole set of issues might seem foolish or superficial, but they are anything but. In fact, what we believe regarding who approaches whom and what way affects our entire relationship with Christ and Our Heavenly Father!
The present New Order will tell us that God approaches us first and completely. All we have to do, they say, is merely wait for the inevitable assistance and salvation that comes from this powerful love that transcends human weakness and overlooks human sin. It all sounds so easy and fitting, but it is a false message luring many souls to perdition! Implied in this prescription is the kind of God that this society loves to talk about. This God is like a street peddler running after us trying to make a sale. He loves us so much that He accepts both us and our sin and does not judge. In the spirit of this lost age, He is all-inclusive and completely tolerant. This is the kind of God that many in this age begin to treat like some buffet dish.Does the term "cafeteria catholicism" sound familiar? When faced with an image of God that does not match with this pathetic, misperceived and tragic concept of a God Who winks at sin and saves everyone, the arrogant of this age utter, "that is not the kind of God that I pray to or worship" as if we mere creatures determine just what kind of God our Creator is!
Others may argue that we must approach God first and completely, but this view also does not make sense since it implies a number of false premises. First, it implies that our God is the complete opposite of the begging God above. This God would be a smug, cold, calculating God Who teases us and watches us struggle to reach Him. Also, this view implies that we are actually capable of approaching God completely which, of course, is impossible given our imperfect and mere mortal nature. To put it bluntly, God is not some Donald Trump-like figure Who arrogantly waits in His penthouse for us to take the elevator up to see Him. First, our God would not be distant, cold, or arrogant. Second, there is no elevator by which we can go to Heaven without the help of God Himself.
The final possibility, and the most reasonable one...the only one, is that God is there for us, that He comes close enough for us to see Him in His blessings, creations, and Presence. However, since He values freedom of choice and moral maturity, He then waits for us to move the infinitely shorter distance to Him that He has already moved for us. This God is the loving, merciful, and forgiving God Who also wants His creatures to freely and proactively seek their salvation, to want that salvation enough to work for it.
The first God above gives salvation away like free money such that nobody would appreciate much less earn it and everyone, regardless of their merit, would earn that salvation. This is the God that many in this society want and deceive themselves into seeing, what ecumaniacs have fashioned to hide their erroneous and heretical ideas. This is the God Who accompanies the woman as she aborts her child instead of loving her enough to stop her or warn her to avoid the biggest mistake of her life. This is the God Who winks at perversion and gives everyone an A in salvation whether they have earned it or not. This God turns salvation into a given and Paradise into a country club for everyone. This is the God that makes hell a myth, sin an illusion, perdition a fraud, and now Limbo a thing of the "medieval" past. This is the God that the devil wants us to believe in all the way to hell!
The second God is a cold, unloving manipulator Who wants us to kiss His feet like slaves and servants. This God is like the teacher who fails everyone or makes every assignment an impossibility leading to frustration and surrender. This God turns salvation into a cruel impossibility and Paradise into a false hope for anyone. This is the God that makes hell a universal sentence, sin a burden for all, and perdition a given. This is the kind of God that the devil also tries to sell to many since few will want to struggle for a salvation that is impossible.
The third and final God, the true God, is a loving, merciful Father Who cares enough to be there for us but loves us enough to let us make the final approach, relatively short as it may be. This is the Teacher Who provides a beautiful and fulfilling learning environment, rewards those who trust and thrive in that environment, punishes those who deserve to be punished, and ultimately exercises supreme and fair justice. This God turns salvation into a real possibility for those who love, obey, honor, and follow His Word. For this faithfulness and willingness to carry our cross for Him, Paradise is the reward justly earned only through the merits of Jesus Christ. Yes, it takes faith and good works; not faith alone or scripture alone. This is the God that makes hell, sin and perdition very real and very just. This is the God Who gave each human creation the gift of free will. Those who choose hell do so of their own volition. God will never unjustly send one to perdition. Just as we earn Heaven, we can also earn hell! This is the God that the devil rejected long ago and wants us to reject as well because he knows that this is true God leading to salvation.
When we see two people hugging, we do not know who traveled and struggled the most to make that hug possible, who lovingly approached whom and who humbly sought the other. This society will either tell us that God is such an easy hug that we do not even have to earn or work for that eternal hug, or conversely that God is such an impossible hug that it is not worth even trying to seek His loving embrace. Both images of God are false and lead to ultimate perdition. The only true, accurate image of God is the one that teaches us that God is ready, willing, and able to embrace us if and only if we seek Him out by obeying, trusting, loving, and following Him. In a society that increasingly rejects God or does not even bother to seek Him out, this third and true Image of God becomes more blurred everyday.
Editor's Note: Heaven is once again under attack by those who would seek to ignore and overthrow God's majesty and authority. Gabriel Garnica, educator and attorney, submits regular insights and commentaries to remind and help guide readers toward a deeper and more assertive faith. Touching on topics and issues ranging from personal faith, doctrine, education, scripture, the media, family life, morality, and values, Gabriel's notes are music to traditional ears but unpleasant tones to those who have bought into the misguided notions so prevalent and spreading in today's Catholic world.