Monday, 22 March 2010
Early morning Mass had just finished. Everyone had gone home or to work, except for Simon the gardener. He stayed behind to collect any stray hymn books left in the pews and to clear up in the Sacristy before he put in an hour or two mowing the lawn in the garden behind the church.
“That was an odd reading we had today from 2 Peter 3:8” he said to Father Ignatius as he locked the Sacristy door.
“You remember the exact chapter and verse I see …” replied the priest, “what was so odd about it?”
“I mean … it said ‘There is no difference in the Lord’s sight between one day and a thousand years; to Him the two are the same.’
“That must make it very difficult keeping an appointment with God … imagine Him asking Moses to come up the mountain tomorrow … Moses wouldn’t know whether it’s in twenty four hours’ time or in a thousand years …”
The priest smiled and said nothing.
“Why is God so complicated sometimes?” asked Simon.
“It’s a bit early in the morning for all these questions … I haven’t had my toast and ginger marmalade yet … have you had breakfast?” asked Father Ignatius.
“Er … no … not yet …”
“In that case I suggest we go to the kitchen and prepare something to eat …” continued the priest as he headed for the Parish house.
Minutes later he had set the table with fried eggs and bacon, coffee, toast and marmalade.
“Now then …” said Father Ignatius as he put his cup down, “what’s on your mind Simon?”
“Well … as I was saying … God and the Bible seem so complicated at times. All this business about one day is the same as a thousand years … and the story of the Creation for instance … if God is so powerful why did He need seven days to create the universe … and did He really need a rib from Adam to create Eve? Seems so improbable to me …”
Father Ignatius sympathized with what Simon was saying.
“Remember Simon,” he said, “the Bible is a book of Faith and not necessarily a book of literal facts … not all of it …
“No one was with God at the time of Creation. So no one can say for certain whether it took Him seven days or seven seconds or less even. In reality, it doesn’t matter how long God took to create the universe; or whether he really took a bone from the side of Adam or not. What matters is that we have learnt that God is the ultimate Creator of all that we see and all that we are. And all that we have yet to discover in this great universe.
“The Creation is a story told by the writer of the book of Genesis to teach the people of the time about God. A story inspired by God no doubt, but not necessarily all factual in every detail.”
“That’s what I meant by complicated…” retorted Simon, “how are we to know what is factual and what is not … which bit to believe literally and which not?”
Father Ignatius chuckled gently.
“I see what you mean,” he said.
“Over the years, and in preparation for the priesthood, I have studied and read many books,” continued Father Ignatius, “you’d be surprised how many different views and opinions there are about God, the teachings of the Bible and theology in general.
“For centuries many learned wise heads have surmised and pronounced on various issues concerning God and Christianity. To the point where we have made it into a science; a discipline worthy of study at our universities and such like.
“And after all of my studies I’ve reached one conclusion …
“God is not complicated at all … it is us who make Him complicated.
“We question and analyze every aspect of our religion and our Faith. We try to understand in human terms what is not of human origin. We dissect our very Creator as if He were an insect in a laboratory and debate His very existence.
“This is wrong surely …
“God is simply love. He created us out of love and wishes the best for us. He wishes to share eternity with us.
“But we distanced ourselves from Him through our sin. And when we did so, He did not give up on us.
“He loved us so much that He sent His Son on earth, so that we may see Him in human terms. Can you imagine that … really imagine it?
“God walked this earth as a man, just like everyone else. Humans saw Him, spoke to Him and listened to Him. They witnessed His miracles. He died for us, and was raised from the dead so that we may be forgiven.
“It’s as simple as that … God created us, and loved us so much that He came down on earth and lived amongst us.
“God does not ask us to understand His ways or to know how things work … He doesn’t expect us to analyze His motives and His strategies … He just wants us to step out in Faith and dare to trust Him … to love Him … and to obey Him.”
“I like that … to step out in Faith and dare to trust Him …” repeated Simon.
“That’s right,” said Father Ignatius as he poured another cup of coffee, “let us stop trying to find answers where He doesn’t want us to … let’s trust Him that His ways are superior and better than ours, and that His love will see us through … if we let Him.
“Let God work in your life, rather than waste time working out all about Him.”