June 13, 2012
Letters of Hope and Consolation #6
One of the many humorous yet sad aspects of human nature is that we often seek a finite solution to a problem whose only answer is the infinite. In other words, we seek God in places, people, and situations that are imperfect and passing rather than seeking God himself, who is perfect and eternal.
Before Jesus gives us the great commandment to love God with an undivided heart (Mk 12:30), he tells us that “The Lord our God is Lord alone” (Mk 12:29). A modern translation could read, God is God and nobody or nothing else is God. Therefore, you are not God, your spouse and children are not God, your friends are not God, your career is not God, money is not God, and anything or anybody else in this world is not God. Only God is God. Why waste your time looking for Him elsewhere?
Since our hearts are made for God and are continually restless until we find him, we can’t help looking for him everywhere. The problem is that we search for him among earthly things and wonder why at the end of the day we are tired, frustrated, and feel alienated from ourselves and everybody else. If we listened more attentively to the experience of our hearts in our search for God, maybe then we could comprehend that the tiredness, frustration, and alienation we often feel is the result of seeking a finite solution to a problem whose only answer is the infinite.
What you can do regularly is examine your heart and ask the Lord to cast out any idols you may be worshipping in place of Him. What things or people have I placed above God? The list could be extensive and can easily include things like people, certain relationships, and attitudes that seek to find my identity and self worth entirely in this world and not in God.
The ironic thing is that once you place God above everything else in this life, then and only then are you able to love life and others appropriately because you are now free from trying to “possess” others and from forcing them to satisfy your deep existential need for a Savior. There is only one Savior, and nobody, no matter how smart, rich, beautiful, or talented they appear, can fulfill that role.
“The Lord our God is Lord alone!” What freedom these words can bring to your heart because they set us free and point us in the direction where we find true happiness.
God bless you,
Fr. Jeremiah Myriam Shryock, CFR
St. Felix Friary, Yonkers, NY