Sunday, August 24, 2014

The Universal Longing

You know that feeling you get when you're holding your child close and all the frustrations of the day melt away? Love washes over you and a hug is the best you got but it ain't cuttin it. You hold on until they start complaining that they can't breathe, and you don't even point out the fact that they can obviously breathe if they are talking. And you're left happy but with a longing and an ache that you can't heal. This is the longing for God.

When you're holding a tiny infant close to your heart and you want to hug them so tightly that you envelop them completely and it's no longer your body and their body, but one body. Or when you cling tightly to your husband and you wish he had ten extra arms so he could hug all of you at once, and you could curl up inside of him and just live there forever, and totally not like a tapeworm or something, but in perfect unity. Times like these, when we can't get enough of someone we love, it's when God is telling us, there's more. Here I am. 

It's definitely not creepy. Right? Tell me I'm not the only one!? I think that we have written on our hearts not just a longing for intimate communion with God, but a deep desire for the perfect communion of all people through Jesus. We are one body. 

It blows my mind when I realize that every single person on this earth is called to a communion with Jesus. And so am I. And therefore we are called to a communion with each other. Including that homeless guy who always has his tongue hanging out and who never smiles back at me. Including the church lady who complains to me about all the mothers and what they are not doing to keep their kids quiet and how they are also holier-than-thou. Including estranged family members whom I've avoided, ignored, or given up on because of abuse, neglect, or choices like drugs, homosexuality, promiscuity, crime, or whatever their personal demons may be. 

If, God willing, we all make it to heaven, there is gonna be some serious stuff going down. Like, deep and intimate, personal, heart and soul communion with each of these people. As in, I am present at the marriage supper of the Lamb. And I am the bride. And so are you. And we are given Christ's body so that he actually lives within us, and we become what we eat, a member of the body of Christ. So everyone you love, everyone you hate, everyone you don't even know, everyone where "it's complicated," if they make it to heaven, and so do you, it's gonna get a little personal. 

I believe God gives us this longing for such a deep connection with the people we love, deeper than anything we could ever hope for in this life, so deep and intimate and intense that we feel as if we want to crawl inside of someone else's body and live there as one with them, as a foretaste of what is to come. What I'm saying is, He gives us that longing here on earth with the hope and the promise that it will be fulfilled in heaven. 

So, um. Y'all ready for this? But there's also this little thing of, like, "now is the kingdom." Enter my favorite verse from my church jam Gather Us In;

Not in the dark of buildings confining,
Not in some heaven light-years away-
Here in this place the new light is shining,
Now is the kingdom and now is the day. 
Gather us in and hold us forever.
Gather us in and make us your own.
Gather us in, all peoples together,
Fire of love in our flesh and our bone. 

First of all, this is my jammmmmm. But also, ouch. If now is the kingdom then we are doing a pretty crappy job of showing it. As Catholics, when we recieve the Eucharist, we live this out in a very real way. Now is the kingdom, because Jesus is truly with us in the Eucharist. But when have we ever contemplated that we are one in being with the guy who wore his football jersey and flip flops to mass? Heck, how often do we even consider this unity with our own family members? Receiving Holy Communion along with your spouse is more intimate than sex. Think on that. 

And I also gained a new perspective on this song based on what I've been talking about. Wanting God to hold us forever, and for all of us to be His own people? Yep. The fire of love for God and for each other consuming our very flesh? Check. I feel like we are called to experience that burning desire for communion in communion. Together, we must yearn for oneness in the Lord. But how can we live this out in our daily faith?

I see the spiritual types who are so anti-religion and definitely anti-Catholic and they are talking about the connectedness of humanity and how we are all one and they are deeply philosophical about it, and I'm like, dude. Welcome to the Church. But we are not doing a great job of getting that message across. 

I don't have the answer, but I do know that it starts with love. Love those who hate you. The ones to whom you are absolutely nobody. The ones who love you back. Love the people who you will never meet, be they down the street, or across the ocean, or from the past, or not yet born. Love the people who have no hope. The ones who shoot children in schools, or blow up hospitals, or take away the freedom of others. Love the people who sell their bodies or souls for millions of dollars, and the people who drive them to do it. Love the people living normal, ordinary lives. Love babies. Love grandmas. Love yourself. 

It's so much easier to ignore everything in the world. But we can't. We are all one body. 

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