The other face of God

The WORD in Other Words by Fr Antonio Pernia SVD (Philippines)

Wednesday Week 24 Ordinary Time, 1 Tm 3:14-16, Lk 7:31-35

“For those disposed to believe, no argument is necessary; but for those who refuse to believe, no argument is possible.”   

This saying seems to underlie the message of today‘s gospel. The people of Jesus’  generation had decided that Jesus was a false prophet and a dangerous rabbi because the God he revealed did not fit their idea of God. Having become comfortable and   complacent with their familiar God, they could not imagine that God could have an  “other” face. Anyone claiming to reveal a different image of God could only be a   blasphemer, regardless of their manner of life or style of ministry, whether it be ascetic   John or libertarian Jesus.   

The question, therefore, was not just one of pastoral strategy, but of a spiritual   conversion of the heart. It‘s about transforming the “hardness of the heart” to an   openness to see the “other face,” the “unfamiliar face” of God that challenges and   disturbs us.

Thus, Jesus‘ question in today‘s gospel rings true in our time: “To what shall I compare the people of THIS generation?” The temptation throughout the ages has always been to create an image of God who is friendly and familiar, a God who is like us. This becomes a domesticated and manageable God who can be called upon for personal and political solace. This is the temptation to imprison God in our personal  and socio—cultural schemes to keep him from challenging us. 

The “other” face of God summons us to newness. It draws us from our customary   experience of God to a new sense of the nearness of God. It invites us to a new way   of being and calls us to become more than ourselves. It is only in becoming more than   ourselves that we become fully human.

Source: The WORD in Other Words, Bible Diary 2019


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