In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. Now the earth was formless and empty, darkness was over the surface of the deep, and the Spirit of God was hovering over the waters”, is the opening verse of the Bible.
I believe it is the failure of human beings to experience the holy, loving and hovering presence of God in and around us that is the cause of so much of evil in the world. God is both holy and loving. He created the universe purely out of love and placed us human beings in it to take care for it and for each other. The Bible elsewhere rightly says, “It is God who loved us first…”
There is reference in the book of Genesis (Bible) to Jacob who after a long journey falls asleep. He then has a strange but beautiful dream in which he sees a stairway resting on the earth, with its top reaching to heaven, and the angels of God ascending and descending on it. The Bible says further, “When Jacob awoke from his sleep, he thought, ‘surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it’.” Jacob had a deep, serene realization making him confess, “surely the Lord is in this place, and I was not aware of it”.
Would it be an exaggeration if we, in a manner of speaking, say, that we spend most of our waking hours on earth ‘sleeping’, being oblivious to God’s holy and loving presence in nature, in people we meet, in events that take place in our life and indeed in every breath that we breathe?
We are on the penultimate week of the Lenten season. Next week, according to the Christian liturgical calendar, we will enter into Holy week, where the whole eve-nt of human salvation will symbolically unfold again. It will begin on the coming Sunday and pass through the intense events of the last days of Jesus’ earthly life to culminate with His death on Good Friday. Christians believe that His painful death on the cross was the decisive expression of His love for us while His resurrection from the dead being the final seal of His loving presence amongst us.
From the very act of creation and through his resurrection right up to this day, the universe continues to be permeated with His presence. Thus in the last days of the Lenten season during which we tried through various sacrifices to get closer to God, we could make another breakthrough if we wake up from our ‘sleeping state’ and work towards becoming aware of God’s holy and loving presence. For, only when we realize God’s presence in and around us, would we try to become holy and perfect as God Himself is?
Father Dominic Emmanuel, a founder-member of the Parliament of Religions