God Is Great

Genesis tells us that man is made in God’s likeness and image, and is therefore set apart among God’s creation. You might think, therefore, that man is great for being made in the image of God. However, it is not we who are great, but God who is great, for he made us.

I work full time in a customer service call center, and in the year that I have been in my position, I have learned a great deal about the human condition… or perhaps the fallen human condition is a more apt term. The lies that people employ to get what they want, the greed, the anger, the demands, and the pervasive sense of entitlement.

It seems now more than ever that people have unrealistic expectations of others. There is a sentiment that an individual’s whims are to be served. It’s almost as if people overestimate their self-worth, especially in comparison with others. While every individual is endowed with an inherent dignity, what is forgotten is that the whole of humanity is equal in dignity.

Fr. Fred Lucci OP, pastor at All Saints Catholic Newman Center at Arizona State University, delivered an excellent homily last Sunday in relation to the Gospel reading. He expounded on how man is great because God is great. Fr. Fred was careful to note that God made us to be good, even though we do not always act as such.

Man is imperfect. We know this. However, Jesus brought a radical message of love that would overturn the ancient law of vengeance. “An eye for an eye, and a tooth for a tooth,” was not only a common maxim since before Jesus’ time, but also put into practice. Jesus in turn introduced “turning the other cheek,” a concept that we today still have difficulty grasping.

And when Christ’s detractors attempted to trick Him by asking what the greatest commandment is, He responded, “…love the Lord your God with all your mind, with all your heart, and with all your strength. The second one is like it, love your neighbor as yourself.”

The message is simple and has been around for 2,000 years, but a cursory glance at history is evidence that we still don’t get it. We are all members of the Body of Christ, and Christ resides in all of us, we reside in Him. The Eucharist is a perfect illustration of this, in the flesh.

To be sure, it is a challenge to see Christ in every person. Due to our limitations, and the limitations of others, we do not always see Christ in the beggar on the corner, our coworkers, our competitors, those of differing political persuasions, different creeds, varying ethnic and cultural backgrounds, disparate socioeconomic statuses, ranging from the elderly to the unborn, the gay to the straight, and the list goes on. But they still are Christ, every last one.

I confess I fall short of this. It is a daily struggle. But I am capable. We are all capable. And it is not because we are great, but because God is great.

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About Dick Dalton

Dick is a third generation native of Phoenix, Arizona, and has a BA in political science and a BA in French from Arizona State University. He currently pursues a Global MBA program in marketing at Thunderbird School of Global Management. -- While very local, he does manage to get around, having visited 23 countries spanning four continents. Some of his interests include travel, foreign language, social justice, culture, religion, politics, and writing, of course!

3 thoughts on “God Is Great

  1. I can agree that we “all fall short of the glory of God”, but when you make a statement that we are all members of the Body of Christ, who are you referring to? When you say, “Christ resides in all of us.” are you saying that people who worship the many gods of Hinduism or the many people who don’t believe in God or Buddhists reside in Christ and that we “all” reside in Him?

    Jesus himself said in John 15:4-6,
    “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me.
    “I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned.”

    The verse that really hits you is the verse that says, “apart from me you can do nothing.” Think about that, “those who are without Christ can do nothing.” and don’t do anything worthy of Him. Pretty radical statement. That means you and I, unless we remain in Him, can do nothing! We will be thrown away, wither and are thrown into the fire and burned.

    So, what does it mean to remain in Him. It means we must put our trust in Him and only Him. Not ourselves, Buddha, Mohammad, Allah (who does not have a Son named Jesus) or anything but Jesus Christ. And who is He but the Word made flesh; the Living Word. We must do the Will of the Father. And what is the Will of the Father but to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and to live our lives in Glory to Him.

    With this living Word, we are refreshed daily in our walk with Christ and will find rest in Him. In Matthew 11:28-30 Jesus says,
    “Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take My yoke upon you and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and YOU WILL FIND REST FOR YOUR SOULS. For My yoke is easy and My burden is light.”

    So if you are having trouble releasing your troubles, look to Him whose yoke is easy and burden is light. If you are facing anxiety, you can cast them all on Him who has promised to care for us in all our sufferings.

    Now we all have to come to a point of simply believing His promises. Belief. Faith. “Now faith is being sure of what we hope for and certain of what we do not see.” Are you sure of what you hope for and CERTAIN of what you do not see? Then believe in the real promise giver and the promise keeper. For what anxiety or worries can be with a person (who knows he is guilty) and he has been granted mercy, and eternal life as a co-heir to the Son of God, when he does not deserve it.

    We can see Christ in all people because we are all made in his image but we are not all in Christ and He is not in those who do not accept His simple good news. And by not accepting it, we reject it. We should also recognize that none of us is capable of living a sinless life but we aspire to a sinless life first by listening to what His Word says IS sin. To allow sin to persist in our lives or to accommodate sin in other people’s lives is extremely sinful and takes the perfect Word of God (Jesus) to save us. Never forget how Jesus felt about the little children. In Matthew, Jesus says, “But if anyone causes one of these little ones who believes in me, to sin, it would be better for him to have a large millstone hung around his neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea.”

    So if the Living and active Word says in Revelation 21:8, “But the COWARDLY, the UNBELIEVING, the VILE, the MURDERERS, the SEXUALLY IMMORAL, those who practice MAGIC ARTS, the IDOLATERS and ALL LIARS—their place will be in the fiery lake of burning sulfur.” it really behooves us to understand what each of those words that I capitalized means. Otherwise, if we think we can be involved in these things either by doing them or supporting others who do them, we are not in Christ.

    See Christ in all but be wary of the yeast of the Pharisees! “Those who sin are to be rebuked publicly, so that the others may take warning.” 1 Timothy 5:20

    May the Grace and Peace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you always.
    Mark

  2. Interesting that section of John. Why would God throw away God’s own beloved? Those faithful or not, God loves all.

    I’m having hard time with this post, not because of theology or anything like that. Its just always been confusing to me, so if you don’t mind, I’m going to ramble here. Maybe its because of the self degregation I have to resist doing; I don’t find sentiments like this helpful for me in that mission. Many women have to resist feeling valuable only when, and because, they are attatched to a man. And this probably stuck out to me more because you used male pronouns to speak of everyone. A creator values his or her creation, sees it as good, sees it take on its own life and gets lost in the process of creating. I don’t worship people; I don’t know what I define worship to be anyway. But I value and honor the God spark, the piece of the Creator in each of the Creator’s creations. (sounds like Namaste, I know. Not intented). How does one create healthy autonomy and sense of self worth with this?

    I also wanted to share about the turning the other cheek. It is an act of nonviolence, but also resistance because when one turns the other cheek, the one slapping the other’s face would have to use the back of his or her hand, and therefore would be harder and sting a little. Its a reminder to me that God does not want us to be doormats yetwe are to resist any violence to our dignity and goodness, but in a nonviolent way.

  3. Interesting conversations here. If Christ is or is to be “all in all” as Paul says, is it not that the good others mentioned (Buddha, Mohammed, etc.) can, from a Catholic / Christian perspective, be seen to be enacting in their own way a relating to Christ, or at least to his basic teachings? Does a relationship with Christ require that it be explicit and in the language we as Christians are accustomed to? Of course, if one is Christian, one would HOPE a believer could make that relationship explicit, but what of other faiths? I recall that the Declaration on World Religions at Vatican II (OK .. at the time it was on “non-Christian religions” but the vocabulary wasn’t there to name it at the time) entitled Nostra Aetate, recognizes that the truth can be present (albeit imperfectly) in other faiths. So those who do not believe in Christ can, in practicing their faith in an integral way, achieve salvation. This is not to say that a profession of faith in Christ is irrelevant; simply to name the reality that God can be faithful to those relationships outside of Christianity inasmuch as God can be faithful to those within it.

    I think the notion of accepting the truth of who you are and who God is is a pretty large concept and a supremely difficult activity that takes a lifetime, even if you work at it every day. And that even explicitly saying and believing (in a rational sense) that you accept the truth, doesn’t mean you really have. And saying that you reject something as false, doesn’t necessarily mean you ever completely reject it. It may be that accepting Christ and the Church means one thing within the church and something else outside of it. Just a thought.

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