The Passport to God’s Kingdom
Fr Ralph de Hahn reflects on our need for God, how we must live out his love, and how the Eucharist carries a power beyond all the destructive weapons of war on this earth.
I‘m moving through a labyrinth of tunnels, hoping that at the other end there will be bursts of light. Often I am plunged mercilessly into a blind abyss of emptiness without end, but knowing full well that one can advance even when stumbling.
If there is a God, then he alone can help me. A personal God who must be greater than all creation, greater than the Temple or the Church, greater than the Bible or the Ten Commandments. He must be the Absolute; all created things will be measured against him. Everything else is relative.
Creation both reveals and hides the Creator. Then a holy fear of God is the beginning of Heaven. God is not merely in our world, we are in his. Whichever path we choose in this one life, we must take God with us. Anything done without him has no eternal value.
We live daily with one foot in eternity. What do we fear? Fear is self-centred, but faith is God-centred. Faith is a gift as I face the unknown, not depending on my ability, but rather on my response (my surrender) to God’s ability. I offer my willingness, and God supplies the power.
We need to free ourselves of the old, worn-out religious terminology, for we have so often disfigured the face of God and his Christ. God loves me not because I am good or bad, but because God is God! God is an ocean of love and he invites me to flow into him.
Life is not always fair, but it is good. Jesus may well call me to play a part in the unfinished symphony of his Passion. He reminds me that his love letter to me is written not in ink but in his blood. Even in our nothingness we feel we have nothing to offer him, but he asks that we offer that. His goodness and mercy are infinitely greater than our sinfulness.
Greatness is an illusion
All the world’s greatness is only an illusion. Filled with the Holy Spirit we speak many languages — humility, poverty, kindness, gentleness, patience — yet silence is the language of God, the language of eternity. Silence is rich and positive; the ultimate modesty of the mind before the mystery of Being, the great I AM! Such is faith, a precious gift which breathes life into dark corners, into unexplored avenues. Faith brings Creator and creature in touch with each other.
People love to live on top of the mountain, but what really matters is the road getting there. Our only real sickness is homesickness, for the human soul yearns for its Creator.
A sinner is at the heart of Christianity. Make peace with the past so as not to screw up the present. Hating others is a waste of time. Do not be weighed down with special words for prayer…no, rather be lifted by the spirit of praying, for God is spirit.
We need to grow in compassion, caring for others. I need to dethrone this self from the centre of the world and place another there. As the false self dies, the ego becomes the servant. I will need to honour the inviolable sanctity of every single human being in the spirit of absolute justice, equity and respect, and also cultivate an empathy with the suffering of all humanity — even with the enemy. Everything becomes a movement of divine love and the Creator of all becomes All in all.
Sand in the machine
We must never lose the gift of our childhood, the gift of wonder. We fail to feel wonder and delight at the world around us, and the miracles that occur each day. We are more blind and deaf than those deprived of these senses. It is futile to attempt manipulating life. To oppose nature is evil; take care of the motive, and the right acts will follow.
Worry is sand in the machinery; it solves nothing. Keep all things simple. We fail to feel the simplicity of the Almighty God. Jesus himself was the most humanly human ever.
The Holy Eucharist — the uncomplicated gift of Himself from simple bread and wine — carries a power beyond all the destructive weapons of war on this earth. But that is something we will never comprehend because it is far too simple a mystery. How we underestimate the staggering power of the Holy Spirit!
And we underestimate the grace we gather by doing little things with a lot of love. Pots and pans of daily use become temple vessels when handled for the love of God. Love is the essence of life, and living without loving is all emptiness. It is the necessary passport to God’s kingdom, it is the “wedding garment” demanded in the Gospel parable.
Fr Ralph de Hahn is a priest of the archdiocese of Cape Town. He was featured in a profile in our May issue.
Published in the June issue of The Southern Cross magazine