From our Director of Faith Formation, Todd Gale…
Trying to maneuver through the news stories of our unsettling recent weeks takes some skill. There is a tsunami of information coming at us, wave after wave. If we do not use the OFF button, we could easily drown in information! Everyone has an opinion, it seems, and most REALLY want to share it. At the same time as this deluge of talking heads, typing fingers, and posting pics are all trying to get their opinions in front of us, there is a weird persecution of those who are not repeating certain mantras. Some of us may feel caught between all the various voices and posts and tweets, not knowing for sure what to believe or how to respond.
St. Leo the Great was Pope in the mid 400’s; in a beautiful writing on the incarnation of Jesus he says to us: “Christian, remember your dignity, and now that you share in God’s own nature, do not return by sin to your former base condition. Bear in mind who is your head and of whose body you are a member. Do not forget that you have been rescued from the power of darkness and brought into the light of God’s kingdom.”
He continues: “Through the sacrament of baptism you have become a temple of the Holy Spirit. Do not drive away so great a guest by evil conduct and become again a slave to the devil, for your liberty was bought by the blood of Christ.”
Remember…bear in mind… do not forget… He is reminding us to listen to what has been said to us, hear what has been shared. Over and over in the Old Testament, the LORD says to the people: “Hear O Israel!” In Hebrew TO HEAR is the word SHEMA. Shema O Israel!
Today, I am begging the Lord to let us hear. I am interceding that all people remember their human dignity. Let us bear in mind the things of importance, the things that matter. We know God is speaking and has much to say. But are we hearing?
The first time shema appears in Scripture is in Genesis 3:8. “And they heard (shema) the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day…”
Adam and Eve had just eaten from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Then they heard (shema) the Spirit of the LORD in the Garden ready to walk with them. In the Revised Standard Version of the Bible we read that God came to them in “the cool of the day”—the New American Bible says it is “the breezy time of the day.” In Hebrew the word for cool or breezy is RUAH… that same word can be translated as WIND or BREEZE or more commonly it is the English word BREATH or SPIRIT…. Do you see where this is going? They heard (shema), God walking toward them in the breezy-part or the Spirit-part (ruah) of the day. Maybe that is when God’s Spirit came into the garden for an evening stroll… or maybe He came to visit with them Spirit-to-spirit.
But they were afraid. They hid. They were ashamed. They knew that they failed.
Our English translations then tell us that God said to Adam and Eve “Where are you?” The Rabbis teach that this is an ancient expression that means “You are not found; you are nowhere.” God wasn’t asking a question; He wasn’t asking where they were. He knew. It would have been more like God sadly crying “Adam is nowhere to be found; he is no longer in My Heart.”
This is not an angry, vengeful God waiting to curse and cast evil spells upon the disobedient children… this is the loving Father so sad that His daughter and son chose to walk away from Him.
So, back to St. Leo: “Christian, remember your dignity!” In our times of crisis and turmoil, do not hide from the LORD who searches us out. Don’t allow the sometimes louder voices of unrest and untruth to shout down the voice of Truth. The result of walking away from the God of life and peace is always going to be death and anarchy. There is typically an unsettledness and lack of peace when we operate out of our own power source or our own perspective. Instead, we need to draw close to the Mercy and Truth of our Trinitarian God.
In these troubled days, remember first to call on the LORD. There is always Truth and reality in every situation. His way is not our way; Isaiah tells us His ways are ABOVE our ways (Isaiah 55:8-9). Let us take some time to seek His way. We do want to be somewhat informed, but let us turn off the cacophony, quiet our soul, and tell the LORD we are ready to listen. We are ready to shema and then respond to His ruah.