Thursday, October 16, 2008
"I believe in the communion of the saints."
This simple clause in the Apostles' Creed means so much more to me as a Catholic than it did as a Protestant. It's an underlying basis for explaining why Catholics and other Christians are not ashamed to call on saints in heaven to help those on earth.
In my last post on this issue, I decided to heap up what I see as the crucial data from Scripture that clarify who we will be one day. I wanted to follow up on this concept by taking a simpler approach.
Instead of quoting Church Fathers and establishing precedent from the Catholic Church, I think a very helpful approach is to see things from the other group's side. Stepping into someone else's shoes, it may be possible to show how even their view of the world is amenable to one's own view.
To really step into these shoes, I am going to quote a song that only a few in this world know. It's quite silly, but still I know that the majority of my friends from my home town who would care about this debate will remember its words.
I quote the part that I remember most clearly:
"more like you
less like me
make me more and more like you
less and less like me.
more like jesus
less like me-sus
at your name i bow my knees-us
to do what my master pleases"
Now I would probably faint if I ever stepped into a Catholic parish and heard this song being played, and there was a large period of time where I made fun of this entire genre and wrote it off completely.
But on a fundamental level, what do we as Christians mean when we utter such words? We understand what our Lord has in store for us. There is an element in which this will be true in this life, but most of us understand that ultimate transformation into His image will find its fulfillment on the other side of the grave.
Does this transformation undo our connections to each other?
How could we not be closer after this transformation?
Similarly, if you were to become more like Jesus would that make you more or less fervently passionate about helping your brethren? Would your prayer life resemble Our Lord in Gethsemane or the disciples who slept while He prayed (which is more often than not my own status)?
If these things are true, how much love must our brethren in heaven have for us?! We have only a glimpse of how much love and concern they must have for us, based on the moments when we die to our selves and live in union with Jesus. May those moments grow in depth and intensity, but the point is.....there is full union in heaven. What must that say about our departed brethren?
How could they worship our God who ever lives to make intercession for us and discard the same passion that He has for us while in His presence?
How could they not give Him glory by imitating Him. We do it here, why would they not do it there?
This brings us to the fundamental objection that saints in heaven can't hear us because of their finitude. True, they are finite, but they are united and transformed by the all-consuming love of the Father. Just as John felt compelled to worship the glorious angel who brought him messages in the book of Revelation, we would probably fall over if we met a saint who has been glorified.
If we will know even as we are known in heaven, what would that say about our grasp of the earth? That's the theme I hope to convey in a future post, but for now, consider what it means to be more like Jesus and less like "me-sus".