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the vulnerability of god

Date: November 18, 2020

By: Kelley H.

Photo by: @2020views (Instagram Account)


When you think of God, what image first comes to mind? If you read the Old Testament, it’s easy to focus on His omniscience, His power and might; this is the God we see on nearly every page. But, of course, this doesn’t tell the whole story. The New Testament reveals another side of God: the One who desires to be intimately involved in our lives. He is the One who came to live as one of us, who allowed His life to be poured out for us, and all mankind. He is the One who, even after His death and Resurrection, did not abandon us, but continues to offer Himself to us each and every day in the Eucharist.

At first, we might be taken aback by this knowledge – by the manner in which God has chosen to come among us. We live in a world that values power and might, not simplicity or humility, so the Cross – and even the Eucharist – is a stumbling block for many (1). Yet even if we were to witness God's power firsthand, would we believe it? Might we not think it was forceful or heavy-handed? God saw that His power and beauty would be too much for us, if He revealed it all at once, so He chose another way: He made Himself vulnerable for our sake. First as a baby – tiny, gentle, helpless – and now, a simple piece of bread…yet our hope, our sustenance, our all in all.

In the New Testament, we see how God – in the Divine Person of Jesus – chose to reveal Himself little by little. Mary, His own mother, carried Him in her womb for nine months; she raised Him and cared for Him for another 30 years before He began His ministry. Even the apostles – His closest companions in whom He trusted implicitly – came to know Jesus only a little at a time. Why should it be any different for us?

God comes to us gently, quietly, almost imperceptibly in the Eucharist. He is hidden under the appearance of bread – not even bread, really, a small wafer – to give us time and space to accept Him, to allow our faith to grow. Fr. Fernandez writes, “We are perhaps in danger of not realizing fully how close Our Lord is to our lives […] because God does not reveal himself in his glory, because he does not impose himself irresistibly, because he slips into our lives like a shadow, instead of making his power resound at the summit of all things...(2)"

But there was, and is, an inherent risk in God’s plan. He knows that He might be seen as weak or vulnerable. He knows that He might be dismissed as irrelevant or insignificant, or worse yet, a fantasy, “the stuff of superstition and primitive belief (3)." But He is willing to take that chance. Better to risk rejection than to thrust Himself upon us. Once again, God meets us where we are – in our unbelief.

Most of us come to know God for the first time as children, when our minds are clear and uncluttered, unencumbered by doubts and fears. We are eager to believe in things unseen – the tooth fairy and Santa Claus and Guardian Angels. So it's not a big leap to believe in Our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. In fact, it’s the best time to come to know Him. Yet even as we age and grow and become "wise," God wants us to continue to approach Him this way: with naturalness and simplicity, with the eyes of a child. It is our childlike faith, the Scriptures tell us, which will get us to heaven (4).

Today, and every day, God reveals Himself to us in the Eucharist. He allows us to hold Him in the palm of our hands and awaits our ‘yes’ – our assent of faith. He allows this intimacy, this vulnerability for a reason: because we ourselves are vulnerable, our lives and existence are so utterly fragile. It is a supreme act of love. When we look upon the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, we are reminded of our own weakness, our need for Him at every turn. Truly, God holds us in the palm of His hands, eager to shape and mold us, if only we allow ourselves to be vulnerable, too.

- Kelley H.

1 Cf. CCC 1336.

2 Fr. Francis Fernandez, In Conversation with God vol. 1 (London: Scepter, 2000); 296.

3 Bishop Robert Barron, Vibrant Paradoxes: The Both/And of Catholicism (Skokie: Word on Fire Catholic Ministries: 2016); 50.

4 Cf. Matthew 18:3