Yesterday, I was listening to a cd made by Fr. David Simonetti. Father Simonetti was talking about Eucharistic adoration, and he said something that struck me hard. Most high school Catholics learn about Jesus, he said, the same way they learn about Abraham Lincoln. They learn the facts of an historical figure. But what they don’t “learn,” is that Jesus is a person, a real, living person. Nobody tells them that Jesus is a person to be loved, not a lesson to be learned. Father David, you are so right.
How many of us Catholics “learned,” about God, but never got to know God? We were taught to say the Our Father, but we weren’t taught that sometimes we should sit back and listen to our Father. No wonder our faith feels so dead to some people! Would you relate to your earthly father like that? Picture the conversation. You walk into the kitchen at breakfast time and politely but mechanically rattle off, “Good morning, Dad, I love you. Thank you for the really neat bike and the soccer shoes. Thank you for providing this house for us and giving me a ride to school. Please help me study my math tonight so I get good grades and can get into the college of your choice. Thank you, father. Goodbye.” and you walk out the door without listening to hear anything he has to say. Without exchanging opinions about the Brewers or politics. Without talking about his day. Without hearing him say in return, “I love you too, son. Have a great day.” We wouldn’t do that. (Okay, maybe we would do that when we were mad because he grounded us over that silly little incident involving the fender of the car and a fence post, but besides that.) We don’t talk at our dads, we talk with them. We love them, and we feel the love they have for us. We listen to them. Why do we think our relationship with our heavenly Dad is anything different?
If you believe in God, you know that he is alive; he exists. While he is universal and beyond human understanding, he is also a real person who, in Jesus, communicates; he listens and he speaks. If you put any time into your religion at all, you also know that he exists right here, within you, and that his desire is to love you. He isn’t looking for cold, mechanical worship, he’s looking for our real, simple, human love. The same sort of love that your dad, spouse, girlfriend and daughter hope to get from you; that’s what God wants.
Learn about your God. But don’t substitute learning for loving.