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 Blooming Stars

God and Me

            A couple of weeks ago a religious sister, a friend of mine, said among other things: “I pray that God has mercy on me. I am just a worm.” I asked her if she did something that required God’s special mercy. She said: “No”. I asked her if she considers herself to be a worm, what a worm would consider itself to be. She was, of course, self-abasing in her humility. My question again is: “Does God require that kind of humility? Does that kind of humility give God any credit? “God does not create junks”, says the bumper sticker. One of the most popular prayers Catholic Christians say every day is the Rosary in which at least fifty times during that prayer Mary, the mother of Jesus is asked to “pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death”. Even though I come from a Catholic background spiritually fed on this prayer in my growing-up years, it has started jarring me in my present positive theological outlook. There are also frequent prayers requesting deliverance from the fires of hell. In all these prayers, what appears to dominate is an underlying fear or anxiety. I ask myself: “What kind of a God do we have?” Is God our father? Or is he a negative, task-master who is looking for every opportunity to dunk us into hell?

            God is indefinable as God is beyond intelligence and reason. No human can understand God. God alone can understand God. In Christian and Hindu theology, we have God or Supreme Being as Nirguna or Saguna Brahman. According to Hindu thinking, everything in creation is made up of various combinations of the three gunas (qualities) called Satva, Rajas, and Tamas. In Christian philosophy everything is made up of various combinations of materia prima (prime matter) and forma substantialis (substantial form). Nirguna God is without form or qualities; Saguna God has attributes or qualities. The incarnation of Christ as an Avatar (the deliberate descent of the Supreme Being) is an example of Saguna God.

            Christ called God, Abba (dear father), something that was unheard of an unacceptable in the Judaism of the day. He taught us the most famous Christian prayer, Our Father, at the request of his disciples. He revealed God, his father, to us. His father became our father. We became God’s children, Christ’s friends. How can we be then nothing, worms? What father would not know the needs of his children? What father would not give us what we need? Christ told us that God knows our needs even before we know them. Do we, then, need to be so preoccupied with begging in our almost exclusive prayer of petition? May be during the horrible, dark days of humanity when natural catastrophes, plagues and pestilences, infectious and contagious diseases held sway, when, before technology, antibiotics, and prophylactics, humans had no control over nature or diseases, when finding food, clothing, and shelter was an arduous, strenuous, full-time occupation for all, when average life-span for a human was around forty years, the constant begging and asking protection from a negative, merciless God was understandable. May be now the deep awareness of the presence of our magnificent, awesome, and compassionate God, who gives us what we need even before we ask, is more appropriate. Basking in this liberating presence of God, who is love, truth, and light, God’s will for us becomes clearer, and unconditional and complete surrendering to that merciful will in an attitude of gratitude, accepting whatever comes our way, once we have done all in our power, is all that matters. My God then is the father of the Prodigal Son who accepts me, even when I get messed up, unconditionally, once I choose to return to him. He is the good shepherd who searches for the one who went astray leaving the ninety-nine.

            Let us ignore the doomsayers who continually warn us about our God who is ever ready to shower on us fire and brim-stones. Prayer of petition is fine but that does not need to be our main or sometimes the only course of spiritual meal. We do not need the antics of some popular, so-called charismatic mass retreat directors or preachers, nor the recital of prayers with blaring loudspeakers that disturb the tranquility of God’s creation. Prayer is a relentless disposition or attitude whereby one is in continuous union with God. It is an on-going habit, truly the only habit worth having, wherein one gets a shock or a sharp prick of conscience, when one does not follow the discerned will of God. Isn’t this a beautiful way of being? Does not our God want us to enjoy and celebrate life? What about prayer of petition? Use it if it helps. But more importantly, if we do not get what we ask for, let us accept what we get with serenity and resignation. The most important thing is to live in union with God, the all-energizing Force, in the deep awareness of God’s presence. This is grace-filled bliss. There sin will not happen. Sin does not define us. Being God’s children is our essence.

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