Emmitsburg Council of Churches

Documenting Divinity

Father John J. Lombardi

God Reveals Himself--and we try to see Him continuously throughout our lives.

Revelation-it's our most important gift! The poet (Elizabeth Barrett Browning) asks, and says: "How does he love me, let me count the ways". The poet spoke of a human loving; let us disciples of the Divine realize there are Epiphanies of God, and Love all around us, so, indeed, let us count the ways He, the Lord, reveals Himself. In this Sunday's Gospel (St. Mt. 2:1-12), we read of the Magi-Astrologers who seek God, Who then shows Himself to them: in the tiny human-God Baby Jesus Christ! So on this Solemnity, let us never forget, our Sacred Faith is a revealed Religion: our Truths and Morals come from God-they have a vertical, supernatural dimension. Humans don't make up this stuff as some claim.

Now, just think: Last week in the Iowa caucuses some discerned "revelations" of political candidates who wanna be president. All kinds of pundits praised and perused them. So: if we pay attention to this, then what about God's revelations?!

God still shows Himself to us-let us count the ways: Let's start at the Beginning!...

God made creation--this is sometimes called the Big Bang/Point of Singularity. I'm reading Stephen Hawking's book "The Theory of Everything" (he's the famous scientist who has ALS and is wheelchair bound, can't speak or barely move, yet he's one of the brightest guys alive). In his book, he states that in the cosmos we now have fathomed, it is probable that there must be a beginning point-that, namely, the universe has not been around forever. Hawking acknowledges a God of some sort (creator-deism) but not as we do. Hopefully he's on the path. Anyway, Dinesh D'Souza, the Catholic convert-apologist says that cosmologists like Hawking and others are really "proving" what the Bible says in Genesis: there is a beginning point, that an Infinite Being must have "jump started" it and continues it presently. Upshot: God has revealed Himself in our created universe. So: look around-above you, at the starry heavens and see God's theophany --the creation comes from our Creator!

In the course of time (literally) God made a special covenant with the Jews-Hebrews-(GK Chesterton quipped: "How odd of God to choose the Jews."). God reveled Himself to them at Mt Sinai (and gave the Ten Commandments-a Revelation of our Law and Morality); at the Red Sea (parting of the waters) in saving the Jews from the Egyptians (enslavements) and then fed them with manna bread in the wilderness. God-Yahweh chose Moses as His spokesman and leader and thus revealed Himself thru great leadership. Eventually Moses sought a "deeper revelation" when he said: "Lord: Let me see your glory (Ex. 32) and the Lord complied - in a way. So: God was always faithful to His covenants, even though the Jews were not. Do you seek the Lord's glory and are you faithful to Him in return?

Now think of another Revelation in that marvelous Book of the Old Testament, the Song of Songs. We read and see God's Revelation on several levels--of God's epiphany to Israel; of His love literally between a man and woman; and also of an individual soul in love with God. Each of these in their unique ways expresses God's

Revelation to us and Love for us. We read in the Songs: "You are all beautiful, my beloved/ and there is no blemish in you…My lover is radiant and ruddy" (Songs: 4:7; 5:10). You don't' know if the verses are about God, man, or woman. Point: God unveils Himself both in friendship and mystical love and we should train our "spiritual eyes" to detect Him in all these: Are you?

Eventually, of course, God Yahweh sent the prophets-they were sent to rile up the Jews, and us! So: we should see God's revelation in prophets like Pope John Paul who decries a materialistic West eaten up by bad morals. We should see God's epiphany in a Mother Teresa who critiques us for not helping the poor. The other day a prophetic guy came up to me and said we Christians-esp. at Mass-should be more loving, considerate and helpful to each other. God is sending us messages: are we listening, accepting?

Well, God finally sent His only begotten Son-Jesus Christ-a kinda' gritty Divinity to us. Christ is THE DEFINITIVE revelation of the Father (See Catechism of the Catholic Church: #65). At this Christmas time of year, we should adore and love the Lord for sending us unmistakable Truth and Light! This Christ tells us to look for God in creation when He says "consider the birds of the air and flowers of the field"; Christ reveals more deeply when He tells us in the Eucharist He is truly Present (see Jn. Ch. 6). And, in the story of Final judgment Jesus says He will visit and reveal Himself to us in the sick, poor and imprisoned (Mt. 25). Are you catching His epiphanies?

I just read a tribute story of a recently deceased lady from England, aristocratic Lady Jeanne Campbell, who inherited millions of dollars and the New York Times (Dec. 30: 2007), and accounts at the end of her life when she lived in New York City: "Becoming increasingly spiritual, she took the arduous step of converting to Catholicism. At St. Joseph's Church in Greenwich Village she attended daily Mass, acted as a lay reader and worked tirelessly in the church's homeless shelter. 'She felt herself to have been a sinner,' her son-in-law Guy Lancaster says, 'and so she was open to all other sinners.'" We should see, receive, be one with God's Revelations, like Lady Jeanne, esp. in the Eucharist and poor!

The saints: last Friday we celebrated the feast day of Mother Seton, a great woman, wife, mother, religious foundress, and educator who was persecuted and purified thru many sufferings (the death of her husband two children) and kept on going: God's Love was revealed to us thru this human being-and so many others-- like us in so many ways, and so God's epiphanies and holiness and Salvation continue. Do you read the Lives of the Saints and see God's Salvation, and thereby imitate and adulate them? God is speaking to us in so many ways: let's learn to see! The Magi saw a star and followed-do you see the Light in holy saints and follow Him, our Lord?

One time while driving some kids to a park and lake, they were having (exceptional) fun yelling and singing as I was trying to focus on driving and also get quiet time: wasn't gonna happen! So, as I guess parents often do, I just allowed-after some strife within-that the singing and revelry spontaneously pouring forth from these joyful children would be my prayer. Then I realized to make all a prayer (I Th. 5:17). At other times while blessing people in chapel after Mass, I often try to see folks coming forward as kinda epiphanies of God.

Now, think of great composers in music and literature, like Shakespeare, Dante, their mellifluous stanzas and lines about human suffering and triumph; Bach with his driving melodies of elastic effusion; Beethoven and his towering symphonies; Mozart's melodiousness…just how/why did they create so beautifully? Their spiritual sacramental faith-imagination helped and inspired them to be channels of God: how can you be?

Don't fail to look at your children and see God's face. We can often take loved ones for granted and veil ourselves from God's epiphanies. The other day at Mass I saw a mom from Frederick County carrying a little boy she adopted in her arms to Holy Communion: he was from Liberia and, well, sleeping gently and safe in her enfolding arms. At that point I saw not only sacrifice but also God's revelation of Love!

Look at the Holy Eucharist and say with St John the Baptist: "Behold the Lamb of God Who takes away the sins of the world"-and do just that-behold Him within in this singular Epiphany-unveiling-revelation, and believe!

I recently visited a drug treatment center and spoke about God's love for us and a man spontaneously said, in response, "Father, what about John 3:16?" And I said could you quote it for us? And he did and I heard another epiphany: "For God so loved the world He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him might not perish but have eternal life".

I see God revealed in our beloved Fr. George Reid who, even at age 70-something and after a long life of priestly and military service, visits our Grotto daily for Mass. He is a reminder of service, commitment and love-an earthly and ebullient epiphany of God for me, us.

Fr Benedict Groeschel has written in an instructive book, "Still Small Voice" that private revelations are rarely proven by the Church and we should be prudent about unapproved ones. However, Fr. Groeschel does say God does still speak to us in our hearts, in our imaginations and in our daily lives. He still speaks to us in our consciences-in moral, inspirational, revelatory ways-and we should be open to "this still small voice within"-may you learn to see and hear God's gentle epiphanies all around you, and within you!

Response: Daily review your day and count ways the Lord appeared to, and blessed you-learn to "connect the spiritual dots": we usually see only separate "dots"-random experiences sporadically happening to us, and yet it, this life around us, this theophany, is God speaking and revealing Himself to us: like the Magi follow the Star, all around you and within-and see and embrace the King and Lord!

Read other reflections by Father John J. Lombardi