The Presence of God
|The Presence of God
When Our Blessed Lord was about to be arrested, He asked them, "Whom are you looking for?" The soldiers and the guards said, "Jesus the Nazorean." He then said, "I AM." After hearing this, they turned away and fell to the ground. Our Blessed Lord then asked them once again, "Whom are you looking for?" They said, "Jesus the Nazorean." He then said, "I told you, I AM" (John 18:4-8).
Why did not the soldiers recognize Him? They must have seen Him before since His preaching was not done in a corner. So why did they not recognize this popular man? The reason is that they did not have a "sense of humor." As Fulton Sheen says, "Someone who has a sense of humor is one who can see through things." We have to remember that right before the soldiers came, Jesus was in agony. He was such in agony that His sweat became blood. His face could have been unrecognizable because of His agony. However, this is not an excuse. We need to ask ourselves constantly, "Would we be able to recognize Jesus' face?"
Do we recognize His face? Do we recognize His face in the hungry? Do we give Him food when He is hungry? Do we give Him drink when He is thirsty? Do we welcome Him? Do we care for Him? Do we clothe Him when He is naked? In other words, do we recognize Him in other people? "Amen I say to you, whatever you did for one of these least brothers of mine, you did for me." Shall we not love them? But isn't love an action? Is love a one minute thing? No it isn't. This is why we cannot just say, "I accept Jesus as My Lord and Savior" and think we are saved from this point on. We must abandon our whole selves for His will. To do this, we must walk in the presence of God. John Nicholar Grou said, "No spiritual practice is more to be recommended than that of the presence of God; none is more useful, none more profitable for advancement in virtue."
How do we start living in the presence of God? First, to live in the presence of God is not to feel Him, though one can, but to live in love, to live as a friend of God. To do this, we must put Him in our lives. But how?
The first and foremost is prayer. This is where the action begins. This is where you talk to God and He talks to you. Repetition of the Holy Name Jesus is also recommended. But we must remember, we cannot do all the talking. We must be silent as well. Mother Teresa said, "The essential thing is not what we say but what God says to us and through us. In that silence, He will listen to us; there He will speak to our soul, and there we will hear His voice." While doing this, we must contemplate on the face of Jesus, especially when He was on the Cross. We must come to the point where we are standing at the foot of the Cross. We must contemplate Him until our hearts are softened. We must not forget St. Padre Pio's words, "It is at the foot of the Cross where we learn how to love."
But what do we do if we do not have the time to pray? The answer is that our lives should be a prayer, walking in the presence of God. One can contemplate without sitting in a dark corner. One can contemplate by seeing Jesus through other things, more specifically, simple things. Mother Teresa says that an aspect "...of our life of contemplation is simplicity, which makes us see the face of God in everything, everyone, everywhere, all the time, and His hand in all the happenings; and makes us do all that we do -- whether we think, study, work, speak, eat, or take our rest -- under the loving gaze of the Father, being totally available to Him in any form He may come to us." For example, if you get a cookie, you can say "Thank you Jesus." When you get fired from a job, say, "Thank you Jesus." We must treasure Jesus for "where your treasure is, there also will your heart be."
And we do not have to do great things at all, just small things with great love. As Cardinal Ratzinger says, "To be holy does not mean being superior to others; the saint can be very weak, with many mistakes in his life. Holiness is this profound contact with God, becoming a friend of God: it is letting the Other work, the Only One who can really make the world both good and happy." God will judge us on how much we love, not how many great things we do.
The final advice is to put Mary in our lives. How? To contemplate Jesus through the eyes of Mary. We must be that disciple who was with Mary at the foot of the Cross. We must comfort her. Some object saying, "Why do we need a creature to mediate between Jesus and me?" The answer is that Jesus is the one true Mediator, who uses other instruments to do His redemption. Did He not say that we are co-workers? Don't artists use a brush? If we are going to truly recognize Jesus in everything, shall we not recognize Him in Mary? Did not the angel say, "The Lord is with you"? As St. Thomas Aquinas has said, "The Blessed Virgin excels the Angels in her closeness to God. The Angel Gabriel indicated this when he said: 'The Lord is with thee' -- as if to say: 'I reverence thee because thou art nearer to God than I, because the Lord is with thee.'" If the Lord is with Mary, there is no good reason why we should not go to her as well.
In conclusion, ask yourself: Do you think you have recognized Jesus in your life? Should we live as the soldiers did or should we live as a friend of God? If you want to be happy, you must live with the One who can truly make you happy. You must recognize Him so much that you must no longer live, but Christ Who will live in you (Gal 2:20).
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