What images come into your mind to answer What is GOD? [Fill in mentally. . . ..]
The Bible gives us hundreds of metaphors as partly true attempts to answer “What is God?” KING… WOMAN IN LABOR…FATHER… MOTHER EAGLE… SHEPHERD…MOTHER WITH CHILD AT HER BREAST…FRIEND…FLAME…MOTHER BEAR…LAUGHTER… A CYPRESS TREE . . . WHISPER……..my favorite is ROCK (Roach means “rock” in the original Norman French of my ancestors whose motto was “God is my rock.”)
But as the right answer to the question of God’s identity THEY ARE ALL WRONG! So is your image, partly, OR YOUR DEFINITION if you didn’t follow directions.
Our Catholic faith says GOD IS MYSTERY and that means we humans can’t expect to completely under-stand, only partly. So far the best idea about this puzzle that we’ve gotten from God is the Holy Trinity. That’s good enough for most people who say the Creed every Sunday, but if you are still reading this you probably want more data.
Here’s a start. Catholic theology says that
GOD IS “PURE” EXISTENCE!
Imagine yourself in a desert. Look at the horizon. How long would it take to reach the horizon? [Fill in mentally. . . . . . . . .] You’d never reach the horizon, even though you know it’s there.
Karl Rahner (20th century Jesuit theologian) says that reality is just like that. You and I are right now sur-rounded by reality, things that we believe EXIST outside of us; they do not exist only in our imagination. Rahner says that you and I also believe that, behind, supporting every thing that exists, is EXISTENCE itself (PURE existence), even though, like the geographic horizon, we can only fully reach (understand) things that exist. And the “horizon of existence” is GOD who is EXISTENCE itself—incomprehensible MYSTERY—we will never fully understand, only partly.
That’s what Catholics believe. “GOD Almighty, maker of heaven and earth” is MYSTERY.
The Jews may have believed that first (See Exodus 3:14 for God defining self as “I am the one who is EXIST-ENCE”), but St Paul led Christians in verifying the Hebrew Scriptures by quoting (in Acts of the Apostles 17:28) “In [GOD] we live and move and have our EXISTENCE.”
If you don’t follow this right away, keep thinking and consider what these two Catholic theologians said about GOD being MYSTERY:
Meister Eckhart, 13th century Catholic theologian, “Whatever we say about God is wrong.”
Michael Himes, 21st century Catholic theologian, “Catholic theology tries to say the least wrong things about God.”
Next month: Who is the Holy Spirit?