Thursday, December 16, 2010

The "Living" God is a God Who Fires Within Us the Incessant and Insatiable Drive for Life

"Raise a glad cry, you barren one who did not bear,
 break forth in jubilant song, you who were not in labor,
 for more numerous are the children of the deserted wife 
than the children of her who has a husband, 
says the LORD. 
Enlarge the space for your tent,
 spread out your tent cloths unsparingly; 
lengthen your ropes and make firm your stakes.
 For you shall spread abroad to the right and to the left;
 your descendants shall dispossess the nations 
and shall people the desolate cities." (Isaiah 54:1-3)

The above verses from today's first reading from Mass paint a portrait of God as one who zealously promotes the expansion and enhancement of life to it's fullest. From time to time God is referred to in scripture and the Judeo-Christian tradition as a "Living God." This speaks to the potent dynamism that exists within God's Triune life and also attempts to capture the human experience of God as One who constantly, gently - but sometimes, forcefully - calls, allures, and spurs persons on to fuller life. This drive of God's comes from the fact that God exists as a seamless Tri-unity: meaning, three "persons" whose life interweaves and interpenetrates in a never-ending, "oscillating movement" of complete giving and receiving such that the life generated is at a constant state of full capacity. In other words, God's love is a love of peak, constant, and unsurpassable fullness.

When God fashions human persons in the divine image and likeness (Genesis 1:26), God brings into being a creature who likewise has a "fire" to strive for ever-greater modes of fullness of life. Juan Luis Segundo, a contemporary theologian, makes a comparison of this drive for life within the human person with the evolutionary and thermodynamic principle of negentropy ("negative entropy": very basically, the expenditure of energy required to create greater order or organization out of lesser. One example would be the conversion of food into energy to sustain life). Segundo holds that when humans are living as God intended, they are striving as much as possible to organize the "raw materials" of life and human experience into freer and more liberated (read: "fuller") states of existence. The opposite of this, according to Segundo, is "sin" or "evil" and is akin to the evolutionary and thermodynamic principle of "entropy" (the stabilization of energy into a constant, steady state) in that a person willfully follows the path of least resistance or established, routine, and habitual behaviors that don't lead to newness of life but only to a dead end.

The key to being inspired and "fired" by the love of the Living God and striving to live in as "negentropic" a spiritual state as possible is openness and responsiveness: to God, to others, and to ourselves. It's interesting to note that entropy describes the "throttling down" of energy that characterizes a closed system. In other words, when an entity is relatively or totally sealed off for one reason or another to it's environment, than the energy it possesses will naturally reach a state of equilibrium and this equilibrium will eventually yield to diminishment and death. To remain vital, open, alive, and to reach ever-fuller states of life requires that we remain open to giving and receiving life where ever it is to be found - especially where life is threatened or is in greatest need of being fostered. Pat, TOR