God Is Everywhere

Eucharist

God Is Everywhere
Friday, July 27, 2018

The Incarnation Mystery is repeated and represented in the Eucharist. In it we have material reality, in the form of these universal foods of bread and wine, as the hiding place and the revelation place for God. We are reminded that God is always perfectly hidden and perfectly revealed in this very concrete and material world. This is the Cosmic Christ experience, more than simply a Jesus experience. If we deny that the spiritual can enter the material world, then we are in trouble, since that is exactly what we are—fully spiritual and fully material human beings. We probably need to encounter Incarnation in one focused, dramatic moment, and then the particular truth has a chance of becoming a universal truth, and even our own personal truth. We are supposed to struggle with this, just as Jesus’ disciples first did (see John 6:60)! Otherwise we are not sincerely engaged with it.

Human relationship with the divine normally starts with the specific, the concrete, the “scandal of the particular,” and then we universalize from there—but the realization process takes the whole of our lives. The sixteenth question in the old Baltimore Catechism was “Where is God?” and it was answered straightforwardly: “God is everywhere.” The pinnacle of prayer is reached when we can trust that we are constantly in the presence of God. We cannot not be in the presence of God! Where would we go? As the psalmist reflects, if we go up to the heavens or underneath the earth, we still can’t get away from God (see Psalm 139:7-10). God is either in all things, or God is in nothing. Eucharistic bread and wine ground this whole realization in one tremendous thing (which will still and always be too much to absorb, but we must begin somewhere).

In the Eucharist, we slowly learn how to surrender to the Presence in one place, in one thing, in one focused moment. The priest holds up the Host and says, “See it here, believe it here, get it here, trust it here.” Many Christians say they believe in the Presence in the Eucharist, but they don’t get that it is everywhere—which is the whole point! They don’t seem to know how to recognize the Presence of God when they leave the church, when they meet people who are of a different religion or race or sexual orientation or nationality. They cannot also trust that every person is created in the image of God. Jesus spent a great deal of his ministry trying to break down the false distinctions between “God’s here” and “God’s not there.” He dared to see God everywhere, even in sinners, in enemies, in failures, and in outsiders. Usually, early stage religion is not yet capable of that, but fortunately God is patient with all of us and with history itself.

Reference:
Adapted from Richard Rohr, A Spring Within Us: A Book of Daily Meditations (CAC Publications: 2016), 299-300.

Image credit: Sharing a meal in the Philippines (detail), photograph by Avel Chuklanov, 2017. Magalang Road, Mabalacat, Philippines.
Inspiration for this week’s banner image: Jesus’ most consistent social action was eating in new ways and with new people, encountering those who were oppressed or excluded from the system. He didn’t please anybody, it seems, always breaking the rules and making a bigger table. —Richard Rohr
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