Even within the ‘bubble’ of a “lifetime faith” (a way of life one has known since early years), we sometimes need a ‘faith with a faith’ to hold fast to the fact that Jesus is the image of God.
Every time our mind is stretched in that direction, and we learn something new about Jesus as the revelation of God and thus gain some insight into the mystery of God, we can so easily slip backward. That is, when we relax or pause from being contemplative, we can easily tend to revert to deeply held and usually unconscious feelings about God that tend to reinforce old images. It is as if humankind has a default position when it comes to the divine, and it re-sets itself every time we pause our prayer or lose focus on Jesus himself.
Jesus is more than the image of God, true as that is. He shows us the dynamic life of God and the kind of life God wants to live with us. In his every word, deed, attitude, and teaching Jesus is revelation itself. His life was and is with us in the Resurrection, lived in an ongoing dynamic of revelation, healing, compassion and compassionate leadership to bring us home to God.
It takes some faith to truly appreciate that everything we see, hear and feel when we contemplate Jesus is a revelation of God.
To be in a relationship with Jesus enables us to know God and is not so much about proofs (“show us the Father”), but rather it is to step out into life each day trusting that he is the way, truth and life. To adhere to his vision and to live like Jesus, as best we can, is to know God. It is as simple and as profoundly mysterious as that.
The challenge for each one of us, life-long followers as we may be or newly commissioned disciples, is to not take this relationship for granted, but rather to keep growing in faith. “Have I been with you for so long a time, and you still do not know me?” asks Jesus of Philip.
The question can be a talisman-like one for us, one to keep close and ‘wear’ so that it can serve as a reminder and challenge us to greater depths. It is a question for us to take into this day and indeed, into life.
Fr. Denis Travers, C.P., is a member of Holy Spirit Province, Australia.