Wanted: A Bigger God
Thoughts on the Second Readings by Joe Frankenfield
29th Sunday in Ordinary Time
I didn’t get to Mass last Sunday. Johnny was sick and I was up half the night with him. I just couldn’t drag myself out of bed. I hope God understands and gives me a break. Okay, that exact conversation never took place but countless people have told me such tales. Their concern is deep-rooted but a few basics can help allay them.
Jesus worried about people’s too-human perception of God. He tried to wrest his listeners away from their small God with instructions like the Prodigal Son. Later, the disciple who wrote Hebrews described Jesus as a high priest who, having lived through human difficulties, sympathetically presented people’s case before God. Both reassured their listeners that, whatever their failings, God understood and loved them.
From the beginning we believers have given ourselves the intimidating task of convincing an unimaginably powerful God to care about us. What makes this task harder is that we harbor the sneaking suspicion that, if we were God, we probably wouldn’t bother. Something about the whole system seems unreal.
We live in a universe measured in billions of light years. Most of reality lies beyond our perception let alone our explanations. The God who creates such immensity is surely more than a blustery old king; an all seeing, strict parent; a kindly, generous old uncle or a nasty, vindictive next door neighbor. The God of our time is either infinitely beyond such figures or the God of our time doesn’t exist.
Still, we have a hard time moving beyond those images. We hang on to the God-as-wary-parent or the God-as high-school principal idea even when their shortcomings are painfully obvious. Why? What do we fear losing?
We’ll never have an adult Church until we have an image of God rooted in our adult experience.