THOUGHTS ON THE CATHOLIC FAITH NO. 3
(Fr J. O'Neill, P.P., S.T.B.)
Things are either being fulfilled or frustrated. If we believe in a good Creator, then we have to say that things exist to be fulfilled, for He could never create something just to frustrate it. Yet we see a lot of frustration: the poor wild beast is not having much fun as the lion devours him; nor is the actor at his height if he is being booed off the stage. There is a mystery here, and it must be solved.
Some things look very fulfilled: the cow in the field of lush grass, the dog with his bone, the student receiving his diploma, the footballer scoring his try/goal (to leave no code neglected!) Of these, the cow and the dog are really fulfilled because they are filled full, and that is all they need, but the student, the real student anyway, is thirsty for more knowledge, and the footballer wants to score again, reminding us that man, no matter what he achieves, is still restless. Some earthly species find fulfilment some of the time, but man? - never while he walks the earth.
We can have peace with ourselves, but it depends on whether or not we accept that heaven, not earth, fulfils us. Here again, there is a great difference between what we know in the mind and what we do in our lives: a Christian might say he believes his joy lies in heaven, but nearly have a breakdown if his lotto ticket does not win. Our convictions must imbue our conduct, or else they are not convictions at all.
The Church is suffering terribly because so many of its members use it, not to give glory to God, but to fulfil themselves, and so we must be very careful of our motives.
Perhaps this poor image might help us to keep our motives pure: imagine that God had made you first, and there you were, content, utterly and rightly, just to look at Him. One 'morning' God woke you up and said, "My child, see what I have made!" You looked, but saw only God: "I see only you, Lord." He pointed and said, "Don't you see that universe, child?" "What's a 'universe', Lord? I see only you, Lord; you are all I want to see." He urged you, "Look carefully." You did, and saw a little speck beside Him. "Is that a universe, Lord, that little speck?" "Yes, child." You said, "Well, Lord, that's fine, but I still just want to look at you."
Well, the universe is a marvel, but not compared with God. Such is His greatness. Yet the Church and the human race are being driven to confusion by people who commit the ultimate ingratitude and injustice, and indeed, absurdity, by putting themselves in the centre of things: "My will be done! My opinion be accepted!" No wonder God had to come here and die: there was no other way He could satisfy His sadness at our terrible ingratitude for the gift of life, and the terrible misuse we have made of that gift.
So, there is the strange thing about man: of all the creatures on the earth, he alone cannot fulfil himself, ever; yet no other creature can ever be so fulfilled! The first step to joy is to accept our own total inadequacy; the second is to put total hope in the All-loving Creator.
All our troubles come from our failure to accept this reality. Lucifer (a beautiful name - 'Lightbearer') could not do it, and thought God could not be greater than he; Adam and Eve could not do it, and gave in to the desire to have knowledge equal to God (they were very poor at metaphysics!)
Pride is the dreadful destroyer of peace, in ourselves and around us, and pride is very subtle. We need not fear it if we keep our motives pure, and we shall keep our motives pure if we remember God's rights.
Australians believe in a fair go: it's time we gave God one. That is the foundation of fulfilment for all.
Father John O'Neill
17 Cameron Street, Doonside NSW 2767 Australia
Ph: +61 (2) 9622 3426
Fax: +61 (2) 9622 3376
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