Tag Archives: Gospel of Matthew

Nigh Unto Me

What do I want?

Matthew 15:8

This people draweth nigh unto me with their mouth, and honoureth me with their lips; but their heart is far from me.

What is your goal in life? What do you spend most of your time, energy, and talents toward? I seem to answer the first question one way but then the second one in another. For, I say that my goal in life is to be the person that God created me to be. But, then, if I look at where I spend most of my time, energy, and talents, it seems as though I want something else. It seems as though what I truly want is material comfort/security and the pleasure of aesthetics – and, when I’m really ambitious, the praise of others. Did God create me to be comfortablNighe? Did God create me to be lulled in contentment? Did God create me to win compliments?

I am created in order to know, love, and serve… To know, love, and serve what? Myself? My pleasure sensors? My ego? Oh, what a limited life I would live then, blind and deaf to the fullness of reality, crippled in my existence. Such was my endeavor once. As a committed atheist, I saw no meaning to life, to existence, and so did whatever I wanted, thought whatever I wanted, making up my own meaning for my own purposes. I lived for myself. I humorously (but seriously) saw myself as the center of the universe – everything that existed before me was mere prologue; everything that exists after me, mere epilogue; everything that exists with me, mere background. And why not, since, at that time, I thought that there was no center to the universe anyway, no center to anything? Looking back at myself then, I see that I was a very selfish person. Self-centeredness is something that I always have to deal with in my personality but, then, as an atheist, I could let it run rampant and become a kind of religion. The doctrines of Looking out for Number One, What’s in It for Me, and If It Feels Good Do It were all I needed to live the life that I wanted, to be happy.

Or so I thought. However, I could not be a rational and serious person and shut out the Source of Life forever. If I had stopped thinking altogether and just go on feeling without thoughts beyond my own comfort and pleasure, I may have remained an atheist. If I hadn’t wanted the truth, if I hadn’t wanted to know what really is, then I could have kept my ignorance. But, the whole reason that I became an atheist was in order to find the truth, was in order to know reality as it really is. I thought that there was no such thing as God. And I was right – in a way. God is no thing. Rather, that which we call God… IS. One day, sitting beneath the grape arbor, I let my thoughts, my focus, go deeply into the reality around me – green leaves golden in the sun, long grasses in the breeze, birdsong up in the trees, and, pealing back the layers of sound, the silence of nothing behind reality. And it was in that silence that I became aware… that I knew. Without words or images or sensations or emotions, I knew. Infinite… Eternal… Present Presence… Being Itself…. I wanted to be an atheist again for the lack of complications and (as I see more clearly now) for the centering of the universe in me. But, I could never be self-centered again without knowing that I was in error. I did not invent myself. I did not create myself. Everything that I can see and hear and taste and smell and touch did not come from me or from my parents or from bacteria. There is Silence beyond silence… the Uncaused Cause, the Uncreated Creator, the Unmoved Mover… and, much to my surprise, I came to understand the truth of “the ultimate reality that everyone calls God.”

What did I want then, after that epiphany? To know. And to know Truth really is to love. And to really love is to serve – that is, to be who I was created to be. To believe in God is not to merely profess with our lips a set of tenets that we think are true, nor to assent with our intellects to those tenets. To believe in God is to accept the reality of my existence, who I am. I – with my self-centered pleasures and pride – am not the end-all and be-all. I come from somewhere. I come from someone. From Pembroke and from my parents – but, if I open my eyes and my ears fully, if I dare to look up from my life and step out of my own way, then I understand that everything in life comes from the same Infinite/Eternal Source, born forth in the creative power of loving. Something out of nothing – by the sheer will of Being Itself.

To say all this is one thing. To live all this is quite another. I can say that I believe in God and explain how one can “prove” God’s existence until the cows come home. But, to know is to love. God, who is all-knowing, is all-loving. The Fullness of Being whom we speak of as God cannot be grasped, cannot be avoided, cannot be controlled – cannot be denied without denying reality itself. What I want, then, is to be where God is… And where is God? God is nowhere… now here… everywhere… God cannot be pinned down… or flattered, or appeased, or manipulated in any way. For God is love, pure love, pure loving. Perhaps the better question is Where am I?

Where is my heart? Where is the center of my living life, the core of my principles, the aim of my pursuits? The question is not only on whom do I depend for life itself – but also, to whom do I turn whenever there is any question? What is the pulse of my life, with what beat am I keeping time? The life that flows through me is the love that flows through me and I am not its source. The source of the universe(s), the source of existence, flows life, sustenance, love through all – and what do we do? Where do we go? There is no escape from the Infinite/Eternal One, and yet we would keep our hearts for ourselves so that we may satisfy our own self-centered pleasures and pride; and yet we would try to hide our vulnerability from the One who loves us into existence and hoard up things to fill the void left from turning away from our Source.

So that the One who loves us into existence might not seem to be far from us in our sensory-dependent blindness, God became one of us. Christ Jesus lived in humility, unknown by most of those who passed him by. His beloved disciple leaned his head against Christ’s heart one day and asked, “Who is it, Lord?” The young man wanted to know which of the disciples was going to be the one to betray Jesus by selling him out to those who wanted to get rid of him. Shall I banish Him as well so that I may seek my own self-centered pursuits?… I bow my head this day and rest upon the heart of love, the heart of reality, the heart of life, and I ask my Lord and my God, “Is it I?”

May my heart always burn with love for Him who is the Lord and seek shelter in His ever-generous, all-consuming love. Lord, may I seek only You, want only You… let my heart not be far from yours…

Christina Chase

Dead, Being Alone

James 2:17-18

Even so faith, if it hath not works, is dead, being alone.

Yea, a man may say, Thou hast faith, and I have works: shew me thy faith without thy works, and I will shew thee my faith by my works.

Here, in these writings, I try to explore the deepest mysteries of life, seeking answers to the everlasting questions rising up from the human heart.  Nothing that I write here is disingenuous.  I love truth too much to write about anything other than what I honestly believe.  Here, in words that I have chosen, I lay out my faith, inviting others to share with me what God has given.  If there is deep and eternal truth expressed through any my words, it is the truth that comes from eternity, from the Source of all Being and the Source of all Grace.  Being human, I am but a reflection of that truth.  Created in God’s image, I reflect.

If the faith about which I write is true faith, honestly my own faith, than I will not only reflect upon the truth in my mind and heart with words, but I will also reflect the truth out into the world with my whole self.  Actions speak in ways that mere words cannot.  My deepest desire is to love Truth Itself, Beauty Itself, Love Itself, and so, to love God – to love God with all my heart and with all my soul, with all my mind and with all my strength.  Christ pleads with me from the Cross, begs me to be like unto him, to love as he loves – utterly and completely.  What am I willing to give, what am I willing to do, for the sake of love, for the sake of my beloved?  I should be willing to thirst… to be fatigued, to even be in agony if that’s what it takes in order to truly love.[i]

How do I love?  The poor are among us, all around us: the blind who need help in order to see, the deaf who need help in order to hear, the immobile who need help in order to move.[ii]  There are strangers to be welcomed and outcasts to be forgiven; there are wounded to be healed and sick to be cared for; there are hungry to feed and homeless to shelter; and there are those who find themselves imprisoned – by crimes of their own doing, by addictions, mental illnesses, or by loneliness – who need to be visited.  Do I take the time and effort to go out of my own way to help my fellow human beings in need?  Too often, I’m afraid, my answer is no.  Many times I won’t even go out of my own way to be of assistance to my loved ones who are struggling right next to me, because I think that they deserve to suffer a little for some offense that I’m holding against them.  In those times, am I not seeing splinters in the eyes of others while being oblivious to the beam in my own?[iii]

And if I won’t get out of my own way in order to take action and help someone in need, then I will never put myself in Christ’s way.  I will never find myself on the road upon which he walks, so that I may ask for what he wills and receive his blessing — and thank him.[iv]  When I pass from this life and hope to step into the next, I might call out to Christ and say, “Lord, Lord!”  But he may say to me in response, “I never knew you[v]… For I was hungry and you didn’t feed me, I was thirsty and you did not give me drink, I was naked and you didn’t clothe me, a stranger and you didn’t welcome me, sick and you didn’t care for me, in prison and you didn’t visit me.”[vi]  And, oh, the deep, painful sorrow I will feel cutting into my heart… for then I will suddenly recognize all the opportunities that I had in my earthly life to meet Christ face-to-face, to be with him and to love him tenderly, generously, selflessly, with all my heart, all my soul, all my mind, and all my strength… and I did nothing.

Forgive me, my Lord, for all the times that I have forsaken you!  For all those lazy, callous and spiteful moments in my life when I took no action to help you in your struggles.  I, personally, am not physically strong, like Simon of Cyrene[vii], to be able to hold you up bodily – but I do have enough ability, like a Veronica, to wipe your eyes and provide a moment’s soothing.  I can go out of my own way and find you on the road that you travel – on my street, in my community, in my own home – and hold you gently, lovingly, with all that I have and all that I am.  Help me, Lord, so that my faith is not dead and alone, but living truly and fully with you – for you, everywhere that you are.

[i] John 19:28, John 4:6, Luke 22:44

[ii] Mark 14:7, Matthew 9:35

[iii] Mat 7:3

[iv] Mat 8:2-3, Luke 17: 11-16

[v] Mat 7:22, Luke 6:46

[vi] Mat 25:34-46

[vii] Luke 23:26