Sunday, April 24, 2011

Alleluia! He is Risen!

Today's weather, for where I live, was marvelously sunny for Easter. I spent quite some time on my deck just soaking up the warm rays. Being directly under the sun without sunglasses, I closed my eyes to relax and bright red (shining through my eyelids) was the only color to be had. The color and the heat radiating on my face was pretty comforting and constant, and so I began thinking... Is this somewhat what it is like to be in the presence of God?

I believe some years ago, when I was watching Mother Angelica on television, she was giving her own meditation on this scripture: "No one has seen the Father except the One Who is from God; only He has seen the Father" (John 6:46). She said, something to this effect, that if you were to see God for who He really is (i.e., unhindered by human limitations), you would "instantly die." Whoa! I remember taking a double-take on her words. Well, I did hear her correctly because she repeated herself. She elaborated that we would all die of beauty, truth, and love -- totally giving up our souls at that moment to join Him.

That is difficult to comprehend (and sounds scary too). How is such a reaction possible? I don't know, but, I have been thinking about it ever since, since, and since. Well, far be it from me to pretend to have a real answer, but my closest (and yet remote) experience might be the pitter-patter racing heartbeat of a crush, where the other person seems irresistible -- totally captivating the mind and heightening all the senses at a moment's notice. Such was my teenage years. If I project that upon God, Who is perfect beauty and eternal goodness, perhaps that's my start to understanding this mystery. What do you think?

The next thing that came to mind is that Jesus, Who is God "found human in appearance" (Phil 2:7), did not terrorize people with His divinity. Showing that God's true character is indeed "gentle and humble in heart" (Matt 11:29), Jesus shrouded His divinity under His humanity for the sake of being approachable -- reminiscing the first encounter with Adam in the garden (see Gen 3:8). When Jesus did perform miracles, which were few and far between compared to His time preaching, Jesus never used His divine strength to impose upon those present. He admitted to having such power, "Do you think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once send Me more than twelve legions of angels?" (Matt 26:53), but never used it. Why? The most convincing answer, which I've yet to hear better, was from my local pastor:
"If Jesus revealed His true strength, bringing Himself off the cross and destroying the Romans and all evil, the world would forever fear Christ rather than love His heart."
Finally, at the Transfiguration of Jesus, "His face shone like the sun, and His clothes became white as light and... a bright cloud overshadowed them" (Matt 17:2,4). With the cloud obscuring Jesus to the apostles, just like the cloud obscured God to Moses (see Ex 24:12-18), God indeed hides the full intensity of His presence to us journeyers.

I therefore conclude that sitting outside under the sun is like being in God's shrouded presence. As it is impossible to look at the sun directly without my eyes dying (i.e., going blind), so it is impossible to directly see God without dying.

And after death comes resurrection.