Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time A 2011

How would you react if I said, God is in the sacristy waiting to see each of you?  Perhaps you would be excited saying, I want to give him a piece of my mind.  Perhaps if you were a bit reflective, you may hesitate.  You might be terrified saying that you would rather not see God.  It sounds silly, why wouldn’t we want to see God since God is absolute love?  We love God, we serve God, but quite frankly the holy attracts us and terrifies us.

There is nothing wrong with this tension; in fact, it is all quite biblical.  One of the most important theology books published in thelast century is one that few people ever read but it is a powerful read.  That book is entitled “The Idea of the Holy” and the author reminds us that the holy terrifies and yet attracts us.  In the Old Testament, appearances of God were frightening.  Often the prophets hid their faces afraid, yet deeply loving the God they fear.   

The presence of God is holy.  God commands Moses to take off his sandals because the ground he stands on his holy.  Isaiah cries out that he is doomed because he is unclean.  When the angel of the Lord comes to Mary, the angel must tell Mary not to be afraid.  The angel is not merely saying this for our benefit today but because Mary was scared with the appearance of the holy.

The holy cannot be put into words.  Most of us have a moment in our lives that we experience a powerful presence of God and we cannot express it.  The moment overwhelms us and we must spend the rest of our lives trying to sort out the meaning of that one experience. 

God is holy and the holy scares us.  Many people dislike the doctrine of purgatory, but to be honest with you, I find it comforting.  When I die, I don’t think I am ready to see God face to face.  I need that time to develop perfect love and prepare myself to encounter the holy God. 

During the mass we cry out: Holy, holy, holy Lord.  Christianity is more than the rules of not using the Lord’s name in vain or honoring your father and mother.  Christianity is an encounter with the God that transcends us who has come to dwell among us.  Peter begged Jesus to leave since he was a sinful man.  This great mystery is also one that we can participate in since we are called to be holy.  By the power of this Eucharist, may we reflect the holiness of our loving God.

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