Colossians 1:15 "Jesus is the image of the invisible God…"
As we dwell some more on our Objective #3, which is to make people aware that our innate need to connect with others springs from God's thirst to be known and loved, we take this week to think a little more about God.
The quest for knowledge has been part of the human condition since it could first be recorded. There is knowledge we gain from the things before us, which our senses observe, and then the knowledge of things unseen, which we often must infer based on contrast. Forces, waves, powers, concepts – few of these are observable unless we observe the space around them. Some things can only be perceived in the surrounding of something else… or in the absence of something else. “Loneliness,” for example, is at once an experience, a concept, a physical sensation and a desire – perceived only when there is an absence or loss.
All of us, all neurotypes, put our trust more readily in things seen than unseen. It is common sense. If we see something, it is probably there. If more than one of us sees something, it is more probably there. If throngs of people see something, comment on something, and interact with that something, we can fairly safely conclude: it is really there.
So, what, then, of people who go unnoticed… unseen… unheard… for whatever the reason may be?
What must we conclude about people who are passed by, overlooked, deliberately ignored, aggressively excluded, too anxious to speak up, too overwhelmed to look up, left behind because going would be too taxing… ?
It is logically absurd to say that such people are invisible in the truest sense of the word. But, for those who relate to these scenarios, there is hardly a better term to describe the experience. We may be tangibly present, but we may as well be invisible.
Here is where debate usually breaks out. Who is responsible for invisible individuals? Is it my job to learn to speak up, or your job to stop and notice me? What’s wrong with being invisible if I like it that way?
It does require two elements to achieve invisibility: The positive, and the negative; the principle object, and the surroundings. A third element, circumstance, completes the picture, and a fourth, desire, sets it in motion.
But enough philosophy. Let’s talk God.
“God” is one of those concepts we infer based on emotional or spiritual signs and experiences. For the most part, God is invisible… as invisible as any one of us feels when, for whatever reason, we are unnoticed.
Saint Paul writes that Jesus, the tangible human being, is the “image of the invisible God.” That held true for the thirty-three years Jesus was materially alive on earth… but in the centuries that have passed since Jesus’ death, resurrection and ascension, God has once more taken the invisible station beside our tangible senses.
Is it any surprise, then, that our third objective suggests that God thirsts to be noticed?
If we may allow such a comparison, God Himself – invisible source of life – waits to be noticed in the same ways we do.
The quiet among us, the marginalized, the misunderstood, the anxious – are still there, even if we only have traces of them to remind us. Even when we only can see evidence of them instead of speaking with these people directly. Even when we only keep a faint recollection of them; or when we wonder if, in their silence, they even care at all.
The face of God is invisible, yet is present even ordinarily among us… in other people individually (1 Corinthians 3:16), in our connections with one another (Matthew 18:20) and in Holy Communion (John 6:32–71).
Objective #3 asks that we consider how our need to be recognized is echoed in God’s need to be recognized. Or - perhaps - God's need to be recognized is echoed in ours. Perhaps our need can serve a purpose of reminding us to look for God in the negative space. With great delight, may we realize that God's need and ours are fulfilled simultaneously as we extend ourselves in willing connection. By seeking to connect with others, we can’t help but encounter the invisible God. All we need, then, is to remember that He is an integral part of every connection.
Pray: God, Father – show me where You are, before me, today!
Contemplate: Let us consider how God, the All-Powerful, All-Seeing Source of Life, when unnoticed… places Himself in exactly the same position, with the same longing, as any one of us when we are unnoticed.
Relate: Focus this week on our own willingness to seek connection – recalling that each connection is an opportunity to acknowledge the invisible God.
May the power of Divine Love shine in and through my weakness, so that He might be glorified in and through me, and that in my weakness, His power may reach perfection. Through Christ Our Lord, AMEN.
Fr. Mark P. Nolette - Spiritual Director for the Mission of Saint Thorlak