We believers have many and diverse images of God. From childhood, we go about making our own idea about God, conditioned above all by what we hear from catechists and preachers, what’s passed on at home and in school, and what we live out in religious celebrations and events.
All these images that we have of God are imperfect and deficient, and we need to purify them again and again throughout our lifetime. We should never forget this. John’s Gospel roundly reminds us of a conviction that crosses the whole biblical tradition: «No one has ever seen God».
We theologians talk a lot about God, almost always too much. It seems that we know all about God: in reality no theologian has seen God. The same thing happens with preachers and religious leaders; they speak with just about absolute certainty. It seems that they have no doubts of any kind within themselves: in reality not one of them has seen God.
Then how to purify our images so as to not seriously disfigure God’s holy mystery? John’s Gospel itself reminds us of the conviction that sustains all Christian faith in God. Jesus alone, the only Son of God, is the one «who has made it to be known». There’s no place that God describes God’s heart and shows us God’s face as we find in Jesus.
God has told us how God is incarnate in Jesus. God hasn’t revealed Self in doctrines and sublime theological formulas, but in the intimate life of Jesus, in his way of acting and in his message, in his self-giving even to death and in his resurrection. In order to come close to God we need to come close to the man in whom God comes out to meet us.
Though Christianity always ignores Jesus or forgets him, we run the risk of drifting away from the true God and substituting for God distorted images that disfigure God’s face and keep us from collaborating in God’s project of building a new world that is more free, just and fraternal. That’s why it’s so important to recover Jesus’ humanity.
It’s not enough to confess Jesus Christ theoretically or doctrinally. We all need to get to know Jesus from a more concrete and living closeness to the Gospels. We need to be in line with his project, allow ourselves to be encouraged by his spirit, enter into his relationship with the Father, follow him closely day by day. This is the passionate job of a community that goes about purifying its faith today. Whoever knows and follows Jesus will enjoy more and more God’s unfathomable goodness.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf