Holy Moments Wk 3: Invisible God Made Visible
Sunday 2nd Week in Ordinary Time: Holy Moments Week 3:Invisible God Made Visible
A holy moment is a single moment in which you open yourself up to God. You make yourself available to him. You set aside personal preference and self-interest, and for one moment you do what you prayerfully believe God is calling you to do.
This week, we continue our discussion around holy moments as the best possible way to make Jesus known in the world today. We are going to explore how holy moments, sacraments, grace, and your Catholic faith are all tied up together. When we say holy moments can be the best possible way to make Jesus known in the world today, we are talking about making the invisible God visible. So first let’s explore how the invisible God is made visible and then what that has to do with holy moments.
In the Gospel we heard today, the Invisible God is made visible. Actually he was already visible, and now John is bringing it to the people’s attention, so they might see and understand who Jesus really is.
John describes how he knows Jesus is the Son of God. It was made clear to him when he baptized Jesus. The Holy Spirit appeared in the form of a dove and the voice of God the Father was heard proclaiming Jesus as his Son. The invisible God is made visible by Jesus, that is, in Jesus’s actions and words, we see and hear how God wants us to see God, and how God wants us to understand God. Hence the invisible God is made visible in Jesus because he is the Son of God, one of the three persons of the Holy Trinity, of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, so his words and actions are the words and actions of God.
That is what the sacraments of the Church do for us as well. They make the invisible God visible. Loosely defined, a sacrament is something that makes the invisible God visible. And Jesus leaves us seven specific ways to show us God. We call these the seven sacraments of the Church. The most obvious one to us is Holy Communion, where we literally receive Jesus’ Body and Blood. We see him in that host that looks like bread. And in that host we also see, and hear, the actions of Jesus as he is totally unselfish in the way he gives his life for others and tells us to do the same. The Church is very clear on this. You receive the Body of Christ to go out and be Christ to others. That is what we mean when we say that the church does not exist primarily for the benefit of its members. We do not receive the Body of Christ primarily for ourselves. That would be selfish. The church exists to strengthen you, as you see and experience God in his sacraments, and then the church sends you out as the body of Christ to others.
Let’s look at another sacrament. In the sacrament of confession, we see and hear the invisible God made visible as we hear and witness the mercy of God forgiving all our sins, all our faults, and telling us to do the same for others. I could go through all the sacraments and tell you how God is made visible in them, but I think you get the idea.
So. . . Jesus is the original sacrament, the primary sacrament, because he is the one who shows us everything that God is. He is God’s ultimate revelation because he reveals everything to us about who God is and what God wants of us. Jesus then leaves us seven sacraments to continue to show us who God is and what he wants of us. Then, and here is the kicker, here is the difficult part, he tells us to go out and do the same. What! Yes, Jesus tells us to go out and make God visible to others by what we do and what we say. We are called to be living sacraments.
John the Baptist told us today: The reason why I came baptizing with water, was that Jesus might be made known as the Son of God. We too are supposed to make Jesus known. We are supposed to be living sacraments. Think about how powerful that is. You are a living sacrament when you make God known to others, visible to others, by what you say and do.
Saint Augustine once wrote: we each have the ability to make the “invisible God visible,” to be living sacraments. And that’s exactly what holy moments do. They make the invisible God visible to the world surrounding that action and beyond.
It can sound like a daunting task, to make the invisible God visible. It can seem like a daunting task to answer the call of the Christian life to be holy. Saint Paul is very clear in our second reading today, that we are all called to live a life of holiness, to be holy. Paul tells the Corinthians they have already been sanctified, because of their baptism. But now they are called to be holy.
Just because we are sanctified, does not mean we are holy, not at all… you probably know more than a few people who were baptized and are far from holy. Sanctification is a gift that is given, holiness is a gift that is chosen.
What is holiness? Often, the term holy is too narrowly defined. We think that it means simply piety or religiosity. And certainly growing to be holy means growing in prayer and following the ten commandments, but that’s not all it means. Holiness also means to grow in all levels of our being, all the time. Holiness means developing to the full potential God has given us. Holiness means spiritual, physical, intellectual, social, and emotional growth.
For example, whenever you take better care of your body and physical health through exercise or better food choices, you are growing in holiness. You are taking care of your body as a temple of the Holy Spirit. Whenever you expand your brain power, your ability to think and reason or be creative, in good and positive ways you are growing in holiness, because you can use those things to help others. Whenever you take time to pray and reflect on God’s word, you are growing in holiness. Whenever you figure out how to handle negative emotions in a positive manner, you are growing in holiness. Whenever you are successful at better controlling your temper and responding more moderately, you are growing in holiness. Whenever you learn how to better relate to others, to accept others, encourage others, be kind to others and add value to their lives, you are growing in holiness, and you also create holy moments. God is continually encouraging us to grow all the time.
In that second reading Saint Paul also thanks God for the grace given to the Corinthians. What is grace? Grace is God’s gift, and it basically comes in two ways: in that sanctification we talked about. That’s called sanctifying grace, the grace in which we were baptized, the grace in which we live our lives whether we know it or not.
And the pursuit of holiness that’s called actual grace, the grace in which we grow. Actual grace is the power to live out the life God wants us to live, that we want to live, so we can be the best version of ourselves we can possibly be.
We believe that in growing into the person God wants us to be, God both calls us and encourages us to become better people. But, he also provides actual support and assistance to make it happen. Actual Grace is God’s power working within us. This grace fuels us. And we access it by simply asking for it.
God urges and calls us to serve his purposes but he doesn’t just tell us to go do it and leave us all on our own. He gives us the power to do it. He supplies the ability to change. Believing that is huge. If I am all alone, and on my own, to develop healthy habits and thus holy moments, I have to find the will-power all on my own.
Will-power is highly overrated. You only have so much will-power. Will-power is limited. Grace is unlimited. God offers us actual grace to become better husbands and fathers, wives and mothers, sons and daughters, brothers and sisters, employees and employers, students and teachers, priests and deacons.
If we are focused on growing toward holiness in the eyes of God, all of those activities I mentioned, and others, become holy moments. That’s what’s so powerful about the concept of holy moments. It breaks it down. It keeps it simple. It provides a practical action step and a way to stay focused.
Holy Moments make us better human beings. That’s why everywhere you go you will see opportunities for holy moments if you ask God for that Actual Grace to help you see moments as holy moments. This isn’t just a theory. It can be activated to improve every aspect of your life.
So how do I be a Catholic Christian in the world today? How do I make goodness, love, mercy, and generosity be known? You do it one holy moment at a time. One moment at a time. That’s all it takes.
To think it takes anything else is to get lost in the complexity of the world. At its core level, the call of the Christian life is a moment by moment beckoning to put forth the best of who you are, and who you could be, in service of God and others. In the book Holy Moments, the author gives some great examples of holy moments, and some great examples of how YOU can create more holy moments in YOUR life on pages 43-52. Please, read those brief nine pages. All of those examples and ideas will help you make Jesus known in our world today.
Have you had some of these holy moment experiences yourself? If so you can share them with others so they can get some ideas about how they too can look for holy moments in their lives. Just look for the newsletter we sent you in your email Saturday morning, and reply to that newsletter.
How will you make the invisible God visible? What holy moment will you have next?