God’s fiery determination to have a people He could call “His own” has been evidenced to you in every covenant He made with the Jews, for no matter who the mediator was, the sacred pact always closed with the words: “and they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”
But what deference God shows to man’s free will! He had dowered man with liberty. He will never take back that gift. He will invite and even call. But He will force no man to accept. To date, man’s response has been none too gracious and none too generous. Yet we know that God’s determination is to know final fulfillment, for St. John, at the close of the book of Revelation, shares with us his vision of the “new Heaven and the new earth” and allows us to hear the voice from the throne exclaiming, “How wonderful! God’s dwelling place is among men; he shall make His home among them. They shall be His people, and God Himself shall abide in their midst.”
That is the future that not only explains all past history for you, but tells you very exactly just what is going on at present. God is building His “new Jerusalem”; He is fashioning His “new Heaven” and His “new earth”; He is shaping a people He can call His very own, and you are one of them!
The blindness of many modern historians is equaled and occasionally surpassed only by the ignorance of commentators on current events. Although they see precisely what is happening, they have no idea of exactly what is going on; or in the events that pass before their eyes, they never note the strong hand of God.
You are a child of this very confused century, but you need never be the least bit confused. All you need to do is realize that the tempo of modern times, which lately has been elevated higher than the speed of sound, means only that the hammer of God is falling faster, the marble moves beneath His chisel, and the statue is all but stepping forth from the cold stone. In all truth, the city of God is being built rapidly, and the people of God are crowding in!
That is why it can be said that in all mankind’s long history, there was never a more glorious time in which to be alive, for God is nearer now than you know! If Moses, in what was very like his last will and testament, could say, “No other nation is so great; no other nation has gods that draw near it, as our God draws near to us,” what must you say of yourself and your fellow Catholics who this day form the Mystical Body of Christ, with God’s only Son as your Head and the Blessed Trinity’s Third Person as your Soul?
How almost infinitely distant was God from His Chosen People under the Old Covenant when compared with the divine intimacy granted you under the New! They heard His voice from a burning bush; you have seen His Word, clothed in your own flesh, walking your own dusty earth. They received two tablets of stone that held ten stern commands, and they were given these amid the thunder and lightning of Sinai; you have been given a Law of Love. It came to you from a human heart that had broken out of love, but which was, nonetheless, the Sacred Heart of God.
They had a “cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night”; you have Emmanuel — God with you! They fed on manna and quail, and drank water that gushed from a rock, but they died; you eat the Living Bread that came down from Heaven — and you will live forever. They had the Ark of the Covenant, which was made of purest gold, but it held only a vessel of manna, the tables of the Law, and Aaron’s rod; you have Jesus Christ in person — Body and Blood, Soul and Divinity — tenting in your tabernacle under the guise of a tiny white Host. They had promises; you have fulfillment. They looked on symbols, and shadows; you look on substance. They had men of God who were truly His messengers; but you have God Himself and Him whom He sent — His only Son — plus the Holy Spirit. They had the Temple of God, which had a Holy of Holies; but you are God’s temple and are to be holy with God’s own sanctity.
This last is the reality that proves beyond all doubt or quibble that the most startling and marvelous thing on the face of the earth at this moment is the Holy Roman Catholic Church — the Mystical Body of Christ, God’s Chosen People, of which you are one! For to be holy with God’s own holiness is very truly “something out of this world.”
God invites you to oneness with Him
St. Bernard of Clairvaux clarified it more when he took as his text: “Let Him kiss me with the kiss of His mouth” and explained the deepest drive in man — a drive about which your present-day depth psychologists know so little. He told his monks that what the human soul desires in this “Kiss of God” is the infusion of the Holy Spirit, for it is the Holy Spirit who can transform the soul and bring it to supreme happiness.
“The Son reveals Himself and the Father to whom He pleases,” says the saint. “But the revelation is made by a Kiss, that is, by the Holy Spirit, as the Apostle bears witness when he says, ‘But to us God has revealed them by His Spirit. . . .’ By this revelation, the Holy Spirit not only communicates the light of knowledge, but kindles in the soul the flames of love. Hence the words of St. Paul: ‘The charity of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who is given to us.’ ”
Knowledge and love — how St. Bernard insisted on these two! By his insistence, he was giving his monks the anatomy of their souls. Bernard showed how both faculties could be filled by being kissed with the “Kiss of His mouth” — God the Holy Spirit. Then he proved himself a real psychologist by adding, “If you are a slave, you will fear the face of the Lord. If you are a hireling, you will hope that He will hire you. If you are a disciple, you will attend to the instructions of your Master. If you are a son, you will honor your Father. But if you are a lover, you will ask your Beloved for a kiss!”
What a climax! And how expertly defended: “In the human soul,” says Bernard, “love holds the first place among all the affections.” Then he describes the kind of love you should have: “She loves with an ardent love who is so inebriated with love that she loses sight of the Majesty of her Beloved. What! She dares to ask for a kiss from Him who ‘looketh upon the earth and maketh it tremble!’ Is she drunk? Obviously! And fully drunk!”
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