Grasping the Truth


I sometimes wonder why we all seem to be so poorly configured for grasping the truth. Why is it that we are so easily led astray? Why do we not focus on what really matters? Why are we always so distant from the Truth our hearts tell us?

I have thought of two comparisons. Many of us think we are mature. What we are, in fact, is aging. Jesus said, speaking of children, that "Unless you come unto me as one of these little ones, you will not enter the kingdom of heaven." I used to view that as a nearly impossible task, having an attitude similar to Nicodemus' when facing the concept of needing to be born again. But now I wonder if Jesus might not have simply been putting things in a very gentle way for us. What I see Him as saying now is, "Look, you can't see it, because your eyes do not see the truth, but every one of you is like these children. You may be adults in body, but in spirit, forget it." In other words, we have no choice but to come unto Him as a Child, because despite our vast knowledge, we keep our eyes and spirits so closed that they do not grow. We are spiritually two-year-olds--most of us.

That is why a Mother Teresa or a Padre Pio seems such a marvel. They've grown beyond the age of two, and they're showing us what has always been there. Think about the way a two- or three- year-old regards their parents. I know my own little boy says to me, "You're my best hero." (Touching the way they express affection--even if ultimately unsupportable--it does make you want to try to live up to that expectation). We look at a Mother Teresa and Padre Pio and we gawp. They are magicians, pulling rabbits out of hats and making people disappear. When, in fact, they simply allowed themselves to be led by grace and to mature. They live in a different realm from the rest of us, because they have entered the Kingdom of God here on Earth. As Jesus told us, "The Kingdom of God is at hand." That means within reach, here and now. Most of us never grow to where we can see the entrance. The great saints have done so, and they constantly try to show us the way. But then, try showing a two-year-old much of anything.

The second analogy I came up with is that we are autistics, but I would call us culpable autistics. An autistic person cannot screen out the figure from the ground in terms of signal. Every impulse has equal importance. A dust mote floating in a beam of light is as significant as a mother's hand. There is no way to filter the sensory data. We have chosen this mode of life. We blind ourselves with the numerous things of the world--the scandals at hand, the improper actions of our brothers and sisters, our new home, our new car, the baseball game, Dharma and Greg, what brand of beer we drink, what kind of food we eat, the clothes we wear. We pay attention to every trivial detail of our lives, and yet we pay no or little attention to those details most important. How am I reflecting God to others? Where do I stand in my prayer life? Do I love my brothers and sisters as I love myself? Do I love God first and foremost, above all and in all? Do I really seek time to pray, or do I flee prayer? We are unable to screen out these motes, from the hand of the Father that beckons us to enter the Kingdom, the door to which is Jesus Christ.

We choose this life, in one sense. We are like Peter Pan's--or worse, like Oskar Matzerath, the vaguely malignant eternal three-year-old of Gunter Grass's The Tin Drum. We refuse to grow up, and we impose this expectation on others, often holding them back. It takes a saint to buck the crowd and to grow despite pressure to stay. It takes courage to walk through the door that is Christ and to live on the other side. It also takes the realization that we are not doing it. We need to drop the lip service and begin the real service. We need to turn to Christ and to not seek out the imperfections of others, but to work with Jesus on resolving our own so that we may help others to see the Door and walk through to new and glorious life.

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This page contains a single entry by Steven Riddle published on October 10, 2002 9:18 AM.

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