Saturday, December 17, 2005

Catholic Exchange: God Pitches a Tent

God longs for intimacy with us. His love for us threatens to break our hearts. This should come as no surprise to us. After all, he's made his intentions clear to us from the beginning. Fr. Jack Peterson, writing for Catholic Exchange, gives us a good example:
King David was very excited. He had conceived a plan to do something great for God and the thought of it gave him joy. After all, God had strengthened him, guided him and protected him through many victorious battles. David had consequently established a visible, stable kingdom for God’s holy people. He had constructed a royal house from which he could rule his vast kingdom. Now he planned to build a house for God.

David decided to consult the prophet Nathan. After saying "yes" to the idea by the light of his own wisdom, Nathan returned the next day with a big "no" from God. Why? Two main reasons are given. First, in all his years of caring for His chosen people, God never lived in a temple. He lived as they lived, in a tent. He lived among the people. In this tent, God’s presence was often mysterious and terrifying to the Israelites, but it was real. God was saying He did not want His presence confined to a single house. His people needed to know He was there in their midst.

Secondly, rather than David building a house for the Lord, the Lord had planned a house for David. "The Lord also reveals to you that He will establish a house for you. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before Me; your throne shall stand firm forever." Even Moses and Joshua were not followed by their sons. God’s favor for His people was becoming a promise of eternal favor.

Today, Christians see these two reasons for God’s "no" to David as prophecies proclaiming how He would say "yes" in a radical new way in the fullness of time. God so wanted to dwell among His people that He sent His only Son, Who crashed through time and space and took on our human flesh. St. John described the Incarnation as God pitching His tent among us (the more familiar translation of John 1:14 is "dwelt among us"). From that day forward, the whole world would know He was in their midst. They would never be able to question His care, concern and desire to dwell among them.
Think about what God tells David. He doesn't want to be removed from his people and placed behind the walls of affluence and importance that a temple brings. He wants his tent to remain among his people. His desire, out of all of eternity, is to share his presence with the one creature he made for himself: us!

He makes his tent among us permanent through the gift of his son and our savior, Jesus Christ. When we encounter the Mystery of his absolute love for us in the person of his Son, we become a part of his life. We become a part of his family, his Mystical Body on Earth--the Church!

That means we live our lives with him. We share our joys and sorrows, in our time with colleagues and family, friends and strangers, with him. We are never alone. We are not lost or cast away. He loves us with the intensity only an eternal lover can muster!

We have one more week of advent, in which we reflect on the immensity of Christ coming into our lives. Christmas celebrates God choosing to stay with us for eternity. Let us rejoice in the love he showers us with every day. Let us rejoice today!