Imitating God: Finding Ourselves
Thoughts on the Second Readings by J. Frankenfield
19th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Normally we’d dismiss someone who suggested that we act like God as a nut. How absurd! How could anyone imitate God? Still, Jesus taught this. So did Paul. What were they thinking?
One of the most famous, most loved paintings in the western world is Van Gogh’s Starry Night. It captures the feelings that human beings have experienced for ages when they look at the clear night sky. The awe and joy of simply being alive to see such a sight is overwhelming. Those of us with a Christian vocabulary can hardly miss recalling the Genesis passage where God expresses his own joy at the same starry night. Hearing God’s joy and knowing our own we begin to understand how we imitate the Creator.
The more profoundly we see life, the more deeply we allow ourselves to experience life’s goodness, the more sharply we allow ourselves to feel the pain of a diminished life, the more we are in harmony with, the more we imitate God.
A strain of stoicism has run through Christianity from its earliest centuries. Popularly, this has led to an attitude of life is as it is; wisdom is to simply follow the rule; don’t get emotionally caught up in things. Where such thinking exists, it betrays our faith.
When Jesus loved and longed to see the people around him free and joyful so much that he willingly risked his life for them, he wasn’t acting with cold propriety. He wasn’t following a rule. He was living his love, his passion – ultimately at the cost of his life.
After his death, those who had known Jesus realized, this was God loving us: God showing himself. This is what it means to be God – and what it means to be human.
God passionately loves life and rejects everything that diminishes it with all his being. The more we imitate God, the more we are human.