What Must God Be Like?

Saturday of the Fourth Week of Easter


I flubbed that line in today’s homily. But you know what I meant to say. Sometimes my mouth moves faster than my brain. And sometimes it moves so much slower. Maybe you can relate.

“There is no such thing as a God of the Old Testament and a God of the New Testament,” my scripture professor Fr. Bob Bauer SDB would often say. God is not schizophrenic. On the other hand, the human perception of God continues to change and mature over time. As children change significantly as they develop over a short period of time, so does their perception of the world. Adults may still change over time, but this change often takes longer. So a child’s perception of the same reality can change radically in a matter of weeks or months. The collective human perception of God that is depicted in sacred scripture shows a similar pattern of change over several generations. And we erroneously observe that God is doing the changing. Rather, God is constant and unchanging. When we are prosperous and at peace, we may perceive God as gracious in extending favor and blessing. When we are beset by danger and difficulty, we may imagine God as distant and punishing.

“Whoever has seen me has seen the Father,” Jesus tells Philip. Jesus is the fullness of the revelation of God. You want to know what God is like? Look at Jesus. And if we are his disciples, it is our responsibility to show him to the world through our words and our way of life. Conversely, whether we like it or not, by the inconsistency of our words and way of life we show the world a God who is clueless, irritable, vengeful, and demanding. And still we proclaim “God is love.” God is always love, regardless of how successfully or poorly our words and way of life proclaim that truth. We really need to work much harder at being the true face of Jesus, who is the true face of God.

This mass was celebrated for the repose of +Luke Pittman.

Rolo B Castillo © 2020