Wednesday, November 10, 2010

The "Gushing" Goodness of God

"But when the kindness and generous love of God our savior appeared, not because of any righteous deeds we had done but because of his mercy, he saved us through the bath of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit whom he richly poured out on us through Jesus Christ our Savior" (Paul's Letter to Titus, 3:4-7). These words from today's first reading from Mass are similar to yesterday's reading from Ezekiel and blog reflection regarding the "flowing" goodness of God. However, God's goodness can be compared not only to a flowing river but even to a fountain that pours itself abundantly and unceasingly over all the earth.

If we return for a moment to the beginning of Chapter 47 of the book of the prophet Ezekiel (yesterday's first reading), we see that the river that flows from the temple began as a trickle, than quickly rose to ankle deep, and soon thereafter became a river that the prophet could not cross except by swimming. This speaks to how God's goodness can be a potential "gushing torrent" in our lives and world.

St. Bonaventure, a great Franciscan scholar of the 13th Century, wrote that God is "fontalis plenitudis", or, a fountain fullness of goodness that pours itself unceasingly and inexhaustibly upon the other in love (the other that is God's Son, Spirit, and all of Creation).

This might sound all, "well and good" in theory, but what about in reality? How can we "wax eloquently" about God's "gushing goodness" when the world at times seems so bereft of this goodness? Very often our world takes on the appearance not of an oasis bounded by God's love, but, quite the contrary, a parched desert pleading for just a drop of refreshment! Here's the "trick", as I see it: God's goodness is such that it manifests and rushes upon our lives and world most powerfully when it wells up from within us.

To go back to God's love as shared between Father, Son, and Spirit, the reason this love flows so powerfully within God is because it is perfectly accepted and reciprocated. God the Father may be the "fountain fullness" in relation to Son and Spirit, but Son and Spirit are also "tributaries" of this love, holding and giving this love seamlessly. Similarly, when we allow ourselves to be "tributaries" of God's love and to also be drawn into relationship with like-minded others, these "tributaries" combine to become a mighty and rushing river of "God's gushing goodness." Pat, TOR