When I reflected on this it reminded me that I have sometimes heard people talk about a difficult experience as a test from God. They say: “This is so difficult. I think God is testing me.” I have to admit that I do not believe God tests us. He does allow things to happen which may be difficult since that is part of living as a human in a world in which all people have free will. Even the cosmos has a type of freedom; that is, there are laws in nature, but there is also randomness in how some things occur. It is beyond us to really know the ‘why’ of many things.
Another story which is often misunderstood is the story in the book of Genesis about Abraham nearly sacrificing Isaac. While the Bible's editors have actually titled this section “the testing of Abraham," it is not really a story about Abraham, but rather it is about the nature of faith. Abraham had spent all of his very long life doing what God asked of him without even the hint of a question. When God said for him to leave his homeland and go to a place God did not even identify at the time, he went. He believed Him when he was told in his old age that he would have a child by his wife who was well past childbearing age. Abraham never wavered in his belief in any of God’s promises. So why would God have any need to test this man? God simply would not have had any reason to do so.
This incident was to teach Isaac and the rest of us that faith is what we need when situations do not make any sense. It is when situations or circumstances that are difficult try our resolve or when the ‘enemy of our human nature’ (the evil one) tempts us, that we are tested. But God is not a tester. He would not be a loving God if He was whimsical and flighty about how He treated us, or if He tested us as if He did not know our heart. Some may argue that He tests us to strengthen us, but I do not think so. Life tests us enough and God does not have to add to it. Instead I think that when the hardships come, God walks into it with us giving us strength in our weakness. The test does not strengthen us. God does.
Therefore, when we celebrate the Feast of Corpus Christi we are celebrating the great mystery of Jesus giving us His body and blood as an everlasting gift until the day comes when we are united with Him face to face in Heaven. We are never alone because He is with us in spirit and in flesh. And when we celebrate the Feast of the Sacred Heart of Jesus we can know that the human and divine heart of Jesus contains the very love of God. It enables us to receive the Eucharist and in turn to bring Eucharist to others through our own loving acts. The gift of access to the Heart of Jesus, the love of God poured out for us in an everlasting covenant of love through bread and wine which becomes His body and blood, is incalculable. It is not something we earn. It is simply Jesus being Jesus. The Heart of Jesus is never empty and His love never runs dry. Therefore let us live in thanksgiving for so great a gift as the love of God poured out endlessly for us. Let us find strength in His heart and in the food for the journey with which He has provided us.
©Michele L. Catanese
The top photo is mine and was taken at St. Joseph on the Rio Grande Catholic Church in Albuquerque, New Mexico. This is the tabernacle with the original icon San Jose en el Rio Grande beneath. The icon is the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols and copies can be obtained as plaques or cards at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/san-jose-en-el-rio-grande-william-hart-mcnichols.html
The next icon, which is Holy Prophet Job, is also the work of Fr. William Hart McNichols and it can be found at http://www.fatherbill.org/all-categories/product/320-holy-prophet-job
Following this are two more photos: the first I took on a hiking trail atop Sandia Peak in Albuquerque, New Mexico and the second is of the hands of Fr. Bill McNichols as he is celebrating the Eucharist.
Finally is The Sacred Heart of Jesus, a stained glass work by Philip Ralley. It can be found at http://fineartamerica.com/featured/1-sacred-heart-of-jesus-in-stained-glass-philip-ralley.html