One day Saint Francis of Assisi was going through the streets singing and inviting everyone to sing along with him. He came upon an almond tree and he spoke to her, “Brother Almond, speak to me of God.” And the almond tree blossomed!
All of us are called to blossom. St. Basil puts it like this: “The human being is an animal who has received the vocation to become God.” There is nothing to stop us except ourselves.
As I wrote in my book God Is A Feast, God “is a Lover who is kind and caring, always dreaming of passion and tenderness. He is not interested in laws and precepts. My God is pleased when we love him, not when we obey him. We are not androids…We are persons who have a heart beating!”
“If a soul seeks God, even more so does the Bridegroom seek her; if she sends him her wishes of love, He sends her his inspirations and his divine touches. God’s wish is to make her ready for more, even higher delicate graces, which bring her closer to His divine nature. Thus she obtains such a pure attitude that she will be worthy of union with God and complete transformation into him … Whoever builds a relationship with God finds his life moving gradually towards a feast full of music!”
Becoming God is the journey. As St. Paul said, “Not that I have already attained, or am already perfect; but … I press toward the goal”.
When a young artist won the maximum award that one could possibly obtain, he gently told his friend that, “The truth is that this is not my best painting!” “Oh!” said the friend, “why then did you not exhibit your best?” Smiling, he answered, “Because my best painting is yet to come…”
In his book Twelve Ordinary Men, John MacArthur calls Peter ‘the Apostle with the foot-shaped mouth’, because whenever he opens his mouth, he puts his foot in it!
He walks on the water – but then panics and starts to sink. He makes a wonderful profession of faith – and moments later he censures Jesus, forcing the latter to call him ‘Satan’. He refuses to be washed and then, when the purpose is explained to him, demands to be washed all over. And of course, he betrays his master soon after having been warned that he will and he, having sworn that he will not!
Jesus knew all this and yet He chose him to be the first Pope! The reason is simple. After gazing at Simon intently, Jesus said, “You are … but you shall become.” That’s the way God looks at you and me.
He looked at Moses, a fugitive, and saw him as the leader of his people. He looked at David, a shepherd boy and sees in him a king. He looks at us and sees the icon of Jesus Christ in us! God knows us now and knows also what we can become! He is not discouraged when he witnesses the chasm between the actual and the potential!
We may be defeated, degraded, soiled, enslaved by our passions and yet Christ keeps believing that He can transform us and cleanse us and cloth us with the beauty of his holiness.
The risks to avoid are two. Either to think that we are already there. The moment we become like the Pharisee and say, “I am where I am supposed to be. I thank God I am not like the others” at that point we become stagnant and stagnation in the spiritual life is condemnation.
The other risk is to be discouraged or scandalized at ourselves. Only God has arrived. We are becoming. Someone asked a boy, “Who made you, Luis?” And the boy replied, “To tell you the truth, sir, I ain’t done yet.” Stop demanding perfection from yourself!
There is an inspirational poem going around, written Carol Wimmer that articulates this very clearly. “When I say I am a Christian, I am not trying to be strong. I am just professing that I am weak and pray for strength to carry on… When I say I am a Christian, I am not claiming to be perfect. My flaws are far too visible but God believes I am worth it!”
The great saints knew that no one is ‘born again’ just once. Their life was a daily conversion. Daily they fell and daily they rose. How well I understand this…
(c) Fr. Pius Sammut, OCD. Permission is hereby granted for any non-commercial use, provided that the content is unaltered from its original state, if this copyright notice is included.