Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen – a great speaker and profound Christian writer – said of paganism that it created idols out of man’s burning desire to see the gods face to face, to “force” them into this broken world of ours and hold them accountable.
That desire is something abuse victims can understand, on a visceral level. We have experienced the ugliness of the world, firsthand. Some of us use drugs or alcohol to numb the pain abuse has caused. Others use food or sex to fill the aching void left by an absence of love.
But these are meager substitutes for God.
Christians know that man’s desire to see God in the flesh was fulfilled in the Person of Jesus Christ. We view sin as the result of human action, but believe the penalty for sin was paid by Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross.
Jesus said that the righteous will ask at the Final Judgment:
“Lord, when did we see You hungry and feed You, or thirsty and give You drink? When did we see You a stranger and take You in, or naked and clothe You? Or when did we see You sick, or in prison, and come to You?” (Matt. 25: 37-39).
And He will reply “…inasmuch as you did it to one of the least of these…you did it to Me” (Matt. 25: 40).
This then is the crux: We glorify God by serving others, for God is already here.
That this is a broken world is no indication we have been abandoned to it. Rather, we see Him in the eyes of every child left home alone by a working mother with no other recourse. We see His image in the face of an injured laborer, as well as that of an abused woman.
We see Him through anguish and tears. We see Him despite fear, embarrassment or shame.
We need no idols. Our God is here, among us, in this fallen world. No stench of sin is great enough to keep Him away. He extends His hand of mercy, as no lesser god could.
Original version posted 3/8/12
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