We are still on Objective #3 of our Missionary directives, to make people aware that our common human need to be known and loved springs from God’s thirst for us to know and love Him. We have gone through the important theological underpinnings and are now taking one more week to ponder what this means in more practical terms.
Our needs spring from God’s thirst to be known and loved.
The Mission of Saint Thorlak speaks of hunger, more than thirst, but the two are intertwined, as anyone knows. We might argue that “thirst” speaks to something more constant throughout our day, while “hunger” is something whose satisfaction lasts longer between each revisiting. THIRST is a frequent, eager desire. It can be both craving and physiological relief, comforting habit and momentary refreshment. Hydration is universally marketed, and beverages make up giant portions of our social structure, from water coolers to coffee shops, from public taverns to sporting events. Flavored, fizzy, hot or cold, thirst is something we rarely do alone or without anticipated delight.
In our Missionary conceptualization, people hunger; God thirsts.
The two most familiar instances we hear of God’s thirst is Jesus’ quote from the Cross, “I thirst” (John 19:28) and the same phrase repeated by Mother Teresa of Calcutta in the telling of how she came to form the order of the Missionaries of Charity. We lean more toward the second instance, reiterating Mother Teresa’s devotion as a means of recognizing God’s need as one that is as frequent and eager.
“Drinking” itself is a concept seen throughout Sacred Scripture. We see it used as an analogy for fully entering into and partaking of an experience in Matthew 20:22 and Luke 22:42.
“God’s thirst,” then, is His eager desire to fully partake in the experience of us.
Conceptually speaking, how does that relate to our day to day doings? If God created us, how can He NOT experience us?
Just as people can co-exist and observe one another without ever interacting, so too it can be that we can exist here, created by God, but never really engage with Him.
How does one engage with God?
By using the faculties we ordinarily use, for everything else that we ordinarily do.
This is a challenging concept for a lot of people, especially those whose faculties do not ordinarily favor interaction and engagement, and also for those who rely on tangible, concrete experiences because conceptualizing abstract information is particularly difficult. Many of us, in fact, fall into that second group, and it is for this reason we take comfort in remembering that God’s essence dwells in each of His creatures – and so, interacting with others is, in part, an interaction with God, through the indirect route of His intrinsic nature. Put another way, the more we interact with others, the more we accumulate our experience of God’s essence.
Interaction with others need only be on the smallest scale:
This list could go on indefinitely. But, how can these gestures translate into acknowledging God? As simply as:
Are these mind-games, or tricks, or spiritual exercises? None of the above. These are genuine ways to engage with the invisible God, who may be invisible but is no less real. It is an awakening of the forgotten art of practicing the Presence of God, such as that made popular by the French Carmelite Brother Lawrence of the Resurrection.
People hunger; God thirsts. It is easier to fetch someone a cup of water than to make them a full meal. In His wisdom and goodness, God thirsts for our company: He eagerly wishes for our acknowledgment, a little at a time, in manageably small increments. He does not await a twelve course meal. He asks only for a cup of ourselves, every now and again, which He drinks in full partaking and experience of our person every time we do.
Pray: This week, let us make our prayer by greeting the invisible God in our ordinary doings.
Contemplate: Refresh or familiarize ourselves with the thoughts of Brother Lawrence on the Presence of God. These writings are available here.
Relate: This week, observe how easily (or with what difficulty) we may incorporate God into our ordinary interactions.
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