Thursday, December 19, 2013

Inner experience

by José Antonio Pagola (English translation by Rebel Girl)
Buenas Noticias: Blog de Jose Antonio Pagola
December 22, 2013

Matthew 1:18-24

Matthew the evangelist had a special interest in telling his readers that Jesus must also be called "Emmanuel". He knows very well that this could be shocking and strange. Who could be called by a name that means "God with us"? However, this name contains the core of Christian faith and is the center of the Christmas celebration.

That ultimate mystery that surrounds us on all sides and that we believers call "God" isn't something distant and far away. He is with each and every one of us. How can I know? Is it possible to reasonably believe that God is with me if I haven't had any personal experience however small?

Ordinarily, we Christians have not been taught to perceive the presence of the mystery of God within us. Therefore, many imagine Him in some undefined abstract place in the universe. Others seek Him by worshiping Christ present in the Eucharist. Quite a few try to hear Him in the Bible. For others, the best way is Jesus.

The mystery of God undoubtedly has its ways to make itself present in each life. But one could say that in the current culture, if we don't experience Him within ourselves in some way, it will be hard for us to find Him outside. On the contrary, if we perceive His presence within ourselves, it will be much easier for us to trace His mystery in our surroundings.

Is it possible? The secret is, above all, knowing how to be with our eyes closed and in peaceful silence, welcoming with a simple heart that mysterious presence that encourages and sustains us. It's not about thinking about that, but "welcoming" the peace, life, love, forgiveness...that comes to us from our innermost being.

It is normal, as we enter our own mystery, to meet our fears and worries, our hurts and sorrows, our mediocrity and our sin. We should not fret but remain in the silence. The friendly presence who is in our innermost depths will soothe, free, and heal us.

Karl Rahner, one of the most important theologians of the twentieth century, states that, in the midst of the secular society of our times, "this experience of the heart is the only one through which the Christmas message of faith can be understood: God has become man." The ultimate mystery of life is a mystery of kindness, forgiveness, and salvation that is within us -- within each and every one of us. If we receive Him in silence, we will know the joy of Christmas.

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