Would God bother speaking to me?
After all, I am only one of nearly seven billion people currently living on earth. We human beings share this globe with perhaps 8.7 million other species. Our planet is only one of several in a solar system that is only one of 200 billion plus in the Milky Way Galaxy. Our galaxy is one of perhaps 200 or more billion in the universe. Even if there is a God – or gods – why would we imagine He or She or It or They would want to talk to us?
One reason might be this: that if God made us the sorts of beings that naturally search for meaning, including a transcendent source of purpose and direction, if He made us the sorts of beings that naturally reach out to God, He would surely not make it impossible for us to find Him.
In fact, the God we discover by faith and reason is a God of love. His internal life is that of three divine persons, eternally relating to each other. He creates and sustains a universe with conscious creatures that seek after Him. He intervenes in that universe with His constant providence and timely miracles. He redeems it through the sending of His Son as man. So the God we come to know by faith and reason is not some distant, self-enclosed, aloof power, forever incommunicado and seeking only His own company.
Catholics believe that God does speak to humanity. As the Second Vatican Council observed: “It pleased God, in His goodness and wisdom, to reveal Himself and to make known the mystery of His will.” God explains why it is that He speaks to us: He wants us to participate in His divine nature, as His adopted children. He wants us to have “access to the Father, through Christ, in the Holy Spirit”. (1 Tim 6:16; Eph 1:4-5; Vatican II, Dei Verbum 2; CCC 51-2)
In other words, God loves us so much that He wants us to have a personal relationship with Him. And any real relationship requires communication! Persons have to talk to each other if friendship is to happen. It’s not just a matter of ticking a box on Facebook.
God has spoken to us. This awesome reality is worthy of our pondering in the Easter season. He speaks through creation, through the sacred history of God and humanity, in the personal lives of believers and especially of the saints, in private prayer and public revelation through the Scriptures and Tradition, through the life and teachings of Jesus “the mediator and fullness of all Revelation” (DV 3, CCC 65), above all through His Cross and Resurrection. God never gives up on communicating with us.
If you want to be friends with someone you have to listen to them: ask any marriage counsellor! If you want to be friends with God, read and hear and ponder the Bible, study the teachings and immerse yourself in the life of the Church, take part actively in the Sacred Liturgy and pray to God every day. These are the places you will hear God speaking to you.
The positive response to God speaking is called Faith (CCC 142-4). Faith is the submission of heart and mind to God. In accepting God’s Word as true, as revealed, we want to grasp it ever more fully and live it ever more completely.
It is worth recalling not just what we believe as Catholics, but more importantly who we believe. The Act of Faith taken from the teachings of the First Vatican Council declared: “I believe these truths and all the truths which the Holy Catholic Church teaches, because You have revealed them who can neither deceive nor be deceived.”
Not just to believe in Christ but to believe Christ is to have a theological virtue, a grace infused in us by God and allowing us to trust in that “wisdom that comes from above”. It becomes a habit in the believer, “a stable disposition of the spirit, through which eternal life takes root in us and reason is led to consent to what it does not see” (Benedict XVI, Spe Salvi 7).
This is the engine of the New Evangelisation to which Pope Francis is so committed and to which he calls each one of us. Does God want to speak to each and every one of the seven billion individuals now living on this small planet in this enormous universe? Absolutely. Does He want us to listen? Undeniably. In turn, we must be His mouthpieces.