April 3, 2019
by John Shea, S.J.
Creighton University's Biology Department
click here for photo and information about the writer

Wednesday of the Fourth Week of Lent
Lectionary: 246

Isaiah 49:8-15
Psalms 145:8-9, 13CD-14, 17-18
John 5:17-30

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As a scientist, I work with models. Models attempt to capture the complexity of reality in a more simplified form. So, while models help us visualize and understand the real world, they also always fall short of reality. By definition, they can never fully capture all the complexity present in reality. For example, meteorologists use competing models of the weather to give accurate forecasts. The better model gives the more accurate forecast. But no model could ever capture all the complexity present in a given weather system at all times. Models change, fall into favor one moment and then fall out of favor another moment.

This analogy of models works well when I talk about God and my image of God. No image of God will ever capture the full complexity of the Ultimate Reality, but some images are better than others. Some worked better when I was young while others work better now as I age.

Our readings provide two images of God. Isaiah offers the image of a mother who can never forget her child. And so, we may imagine God looking at us with the tenderness of a nursing mother. Jesus offers a second image: God the Father. As used by Jesus, this image suggests a deep and intimate relationship. We may be comfortable with both images. Or we may prefer one over the other. Or we may have our own favorite image of God.

The Gospel gives us another way to understand God. Recall that Jesus is the Word made Flesh, the incarnate God. Jesus tells us that he is uniquely qualified to represent God. Jesus is doing and saying what God sent him to do. We will never fully understand the nature of God. We will never fully understand the Trinity. We will never fully understand exactly how Jesus can be both different from and united to God. This Ultimate Reality will elude our understanding. Our images of God will always fall short. But we do have Jesus who is God incarnate. We are invited to know Jesus more intimately and so, enter into a deeper relationship with Ultimate Reality.

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