Giving God’s Image Room to Grow
Thoughts on the First Readings -Joe Frankenfield
Feast of Mary, the Mother of God
The young woman in my office was upset, nearly in tears. “My professor said I was stupid and naïve for believing in God. It felt like he was accusing me of believing in the tooth fairy or something.” I happened to know the professor she was speaking of and, though he didn’t personally believe in God, he held others’ beliefs in great respect. The student and I had a long talk about her childhood beliefs and her current confusion about them.
When we begin thinking about God, it’s understandably in human terms. That’s our experience. We know reward and punishment so God rewards and punishes. We know jealousy and anger so God gets jealous and angry. We control things to get what we want so God controls things to get his way. We respond to those who are attentive to us and ignore those who discount us; so we understand God.
Later in life, when we’ve lived more and acquired a deeper wonder, we begin to find the super-human image of God unsatisfying. The Being underlying all being isn’t like us yet is as close to us, as one with us, as we are with ourselves. God becomes impossible to imagine apart from our selves yet equally united with every other being. How can we ask more of the Being who’s the foundation of being. How can we ask for love from Love itself. We begin to know God at once indescribably other and incredibly intimate.
When our faith makes this leap, the childlike ease of explaining and encompassing God is gone, gone as well is the need and desire to do so. In its place is a new, deeper union – one that can be neither limited nor lost.
This was the source of disquiet in the student’s life. This was changing her way of viewing Jesus. This was changing her way of praying. She was secretly excited about her growth but unsure of it and anxious about relinquishing the God of her childhood. Growth, not her professor, stirred her unease. She was young to experience this much growth but it’s there for all of us.