10/22: Known and Unknown

Fr. Lawrence Lew, OP/Flickr • bit.ly/2ysnmqM

20 Pentecost, Oct. 22

Ex. 33:12-23 or Isa. 45:1-7
Ps. 99 or Ps. 96:1-9, (10-13)
1 Thess. 1:1-10Matt. 22:15-22

The inner life, the heart, the private chamber where God sees in secret is an expansive mansion, the walls of which move ever outward to welcome that than which nothing greater can be conceived. Though beyond space, God is spacious; though beyond measure, God is most high and highly exalted. The kingdom of God is within you, yet beyond you, and beyond all created things. “The Lord is king; let the peoples tremble” (Ps. 99:1). “Extol the Lord our God; worship at his footstool. Holy is he!” (Ps. 99:5) The Word is very near you, in your heart, and yet beyond all knowing. “[W]orship at his holy mountain; for the Lord our God is holy” (Ps. 99:9). God’s holiness and essence — eye hath not seen, and ear hath not heard, nor has it entered into the heart of a person. Being itself sits in a communion of love from before time and forever. Do you have room for God?

Grace goes first. God says to Moses, “I know you by name” (Ex. 33:12). From an unimaginable height, from unseen depths, from another shore, God goes out to Moses, saying, “My presence will go with you, and I will give you rest” (Ex. 33:14). God comes down showing divine goodness, the divine name, divine presence seeming to pass by. God puts Moses in the cleft of a rock, covers his face with an unseen hand, and permits a glimpse of what no eye may see. Of their discourse it is said that “the Lord used to speak to Moses face to face, as one speaks to a friend” (Ex. 33:11). Incredibly, the source of all creation takes notice of some small portion of all that is, speaking words and emanating presence. Moses is the friend of God, a figure of those who become the friends of Christ, and who say “Abba, Father.”

While working and naming, however, God sometimes remains hidden, unknown to the human instruments of his work. “Thus says the Lord to his anointed, to Cyrus, whose right hand I have grasped to subdue nations before him and strip kings of their robes, to open doors before him—and the gates shall not be closed” (Isa. 45:1). Persia works a divine purpose: “For the sake of my servant Jacob, and Israel my chosen, I call you by your name, I surname you, though you do not know me” (Isa. 45:4). God will do what he will do. There are things that belong to emperors, but there is no thing and no one beyond the governance and claim of God (Matt. 22:21). Render to God, as you must.

In Christ, God has come to us, to make a home in our lives, to awaken faith. The message of the gospel “came to you not in word only, but also in power and in the Holy Spirit and with full conviction” (1 Thess. 1:5). Thus faith in Christ shines forth as an example to all believers. “In every place your faith in God has become known, so that we have no need to speak about it” (1 Thess. 1:8). The transcendent God has come to us in Christ, and the work of Christ shines upon people and gives glory to the Father. This deep experience of Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit is both known and unknown. It is friendship with God, and discovery. It is warm and intimate, and yet new and never fully known. It is within, but arrives moment by moment as a seed that falls into the soul, carried by a distant storm.

Look It Up
Read Matt. 22:21.

Think About It
People do not always know that they are used by God, or how they are used. Grace is full and hidden.


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