Tuesday, December 18, 2007

Providence: Encountering the Word of God

In a recent post I spoke briefly about God the Son taking upon Himself our death so that we may find life. I’d like momentarily to post on the role of God’s saving plan, foreordained prior to the foundations of the very universe we live in.

But first of all, I want to confess that though I love and teach about God’s providence, I haven’t always been a big fan of it in practice. You see, I grew up in family that moved quite frequently. In fact, I’ve lived in five different states and attended four different high schools (one each year). Experiencing all that meant that I had very little control over anything growing up. Now that I’m an adult, I have gravitated towards control over my own destiny, perhaps more so than the average person. I’ve become a pretty good long-range planner and really want to be prepared to get where I want to be in life. That’s good and all, but faith, like any relationship, doesn’t work that way – it’s just too dynamic for extended planning.

I started thinking more about all that after I realized that I didn’t even like the good surprises God threw at me! In my mind I thought: if such great things can happen to me clear out of the blue, what bad things could happen? I was almost to the point of desiring to do away with the good and the bad simply so that everything could be reduced to a simple formula or probability. But again, it doesn’t work that way. Of course, this led me to think about Buddhism which sees life as personal suffering – and what is their cure? Simply put, it is the annihilation of the individual. If you as a person do not exist, you will feel no suffering. This philosophy, like the deterministic philosophy I was accidentally toying with, totally denies what it means to be man – they are not sufficient answers to life’s questions!

The fact is God has a plan for all of us. It is woven into an epic story called “salvation history” (His Story), and we ALL have a role to play in it! And never forget, we can choose to be great heroes or great villains! Either way, God’s story of our salvation is ordered and structured. A plan, especially a plan encompassing, well, everything, is never hashed out without any structure or thought behind it. The same is true of this plan.

One word to remember is the word: economy. Though you may be seeing dollar signs when reading that word, the Greek word from which we get “economy” is oikonamia which means a father’s loving plan for his family. So next time you read about the economy of salvation in the Catechism, know that it is referring to the Father’s plan for our salvation.

So what does this all have to do with encountering the Word of God? Everything. First of all, recall from my earlier post that it was through the Word that God ordered all creation and that it is through the Word incarnate that creation is re-ordered. What is so important is that God’s ordered plan takes shape through the Eternal Word.

What is now so encouraging to me is that through my baptism, I have entered into this Word in a such dynamic way that my life, both its pains and joys, are shaped by the life, death, resurrection, and ascension of that Word incarnate. Everything that happens to us is part of God’s oikonamia, His loving plan for our salvation. When you see life that way, both the joys and the sorrows are blessings.

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