We’ve all had the ‘light bulb’ moment. We’ve struck upon the solution to our problems, or a brilliant idea that will advance the cause of civilization.
Three things normally happen: the idea doesn’t ‘wear well’ once brought out into the elements of daily life; no one is interested; or we find that with perseverance and work, the idea takes shape, changes and becomes real. Only with true belief and stamina do we make it; an excess of effort.
Then again, many of us don’t have much time for ideas or plans: we’re too busy trying to get through the day, managing families, working hard, trying to make ends meet, rushing from one thing to another. It might be nice to be able to sit and dream for a while.
The closest we get is to destress in front of the TV. We need an injection of excess energy.
I’m going to use that word, balance, right? Wrong; I’m not. Balance is itself an ideal, a work in progress. Sometimes we get it right, sometimes we don’t. God did not come to teach us balance, he came to show us excess; that’s how real he is. Our belief in Jesus is not that he was half God and half human, but that he was fully God and fully human: talk about wanting your cake and eating it.
The disciples who made up the early Church knew that they were saved, felt that they were saved, experienced that they were saved. It was not a philosophy, a bright idea, nor was it a work ethic nor a recipe for a stable life (they were not great examples of the work-life balance). Only God could save and only a human could have anything to do with us.
Throughout our two-thousand-year history, this is the instinct that has kept us connected to God. Sure, ideas help, and we’ve had more than our share of the best ideas over the last couple of millennia.
Yes, without actions our words are empty: we need to put our weighty words into practice.
What holds all this together is not balance, it’s pure love, excessive love, outpouring love, love that knows no end, what we call agape. When we go from one extreme to the other, it is the overwhelming love of God and neighbour that pulls us back.
It is said today that we are too materialistic, or too rational. I don’t agree; I think the problem is that our thoughts have become too dominated by one way of thinking, and our actions have become too fearful. It’s not balance we need but agape.
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was with God in the beginning. Through him all things were made; without him nothing was made that has been made…He came to his own people, but his own people did not receive him. Yet to all who did receive him, to those who believed in his name, he gave the power to become children of God—children born not of natural descent, nor of human decision or a human will, but born of God. The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us. We have seen his glory, the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father, full of grace and truth.”
The scripture passage above is from the Prologue of John and is read at the ‘Mass During the Day’ on Christmas Day. It sums up everything we believe: God came and shared our lives, our real loves, and from the excess of his love has brought us into a new life.
Read these words over slowly, savour them. You are a child of God; and, remember…
“God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him.”
John 3, 16-17