Franciscan Spirit Blog

Making God Too Small

Woman looking at the sunrise | Image: Unsplash

I’m saddened when people see God as small. They may be talking about guilt or fears or worries. But they make God seem so unsympathetic, unforgiving, distant, or demanding. That is not the Father that Jesus told us about. Maybe they’ve had poor formation or have not experienced God’s love in prayer or through others.

At the start of any year, I am usually focused on St. Francis of Assisi and his wonderful appreciation of God. In September, we remember his encounter in love with Jesus crucified. On October 3, we have a moving service reliving his transitus, his joyful death. On October 4, we celebrate his life of embracing God, sisters, brothers, and all of creation. Then we ask him to bless the animals he loved.

It is not enough to say you believe in God, Scripture scholar Wilfrid Harrington, OP, says in his book Jesus Our Brother. “What matters, utterly, is the kind of God in whom one believes. It makes, literally, a world of difference whether one’s God is the true God or a distorted image of that God.”

Moved by Humility

Francis was graced with the awareness of the God who embraced him. He was “overwhelmed by the goodness of a loving God. In his prayer, “The Praises of God,” Francis sees God as “all good, supreme good, totally good, you who are all good . . . from whom comes all good. . . .”

As Lent approaches, I think about Francis’ “Earlier Rule,” in which he gives thanks “to the most high and supreme and eternal God, Trinity, and Unity, indescribable . . . incomprehensible . . . unfathomable . . . gentle, lovable . . . totally desirable above all else forever.”

Francis rejoiced that the Father so loved the world that he sent his only Son to become one of us and save us. He was moved by the humility of Jesus in becoming a baby in the womb of Mary, his suffering and death on the cross, and his presence in the Eucharist. For Francis, all of nature reflected the beauty and goodness of God.

He saw himself, of course, as a beggar before God, a penitent and sinner, but forgiven and loved. He was acutely aware that his love did not in any way adequately respond to God‘s love for him. I’m sad for all those who see a caricature of our bountiful God. They are missing so much love and joy. A feast is offered, but they are eating junk food.

Then I ask myself to what degree I am appreciating the wonders of God. Am I opening myself to God’s love and seeing the goodness of my sisters and brothers and the beauty of creation? Francis urges us “to hold back nothing of yourselves for yourselves so that God who gives himself totally to you may receive you totally.”

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5 thoughts on “Making God Too Small”

  1. For anyone to understand love, they first have to go to the ones who have loved them first, which in my case was my mother and father, never mind my siblings. I know about the existence of God because of what I was taught by my parents and the example they set, however flawed as human beings they were. Gosh, I was lucky to have them as my parents. Everything good I have today can be attributed to them.

    Since my dad was a kind man, I see God likewise as a kind being. Since my mom was special in her own way, I too see our Blessed Mother in a similar way. So rather than getting too convoluted about the Holy Trinity, what would be the best way to view God? I try and focus only on Jesus in my daily life. He was a human, after all. And the Holy Spirit? Well, I’ve always been in tune with the spirit world, so I try and go with the flow and sleep properly, and also try and get out into nature. There all three seem, for me, to come together.

    Some people say that the creation in nature is God’s great marvel. But as a priest once said, God’s greatest creation is us human beings because whenever we create something, we see ourselves! So too, when God sees us, he too sees himself, I guess. How else does one explain it? And so, God marvels about what He created, nonstop. And he gave us a free will to accept or reject Him! Imagine that? Love is free! Hopefully people can learn to love themselves first. Love has to start somewhere. And no, don’t expect me to love you out of the blue, especially if you’re a jerk! Who do you think you are anyways? God’s gift? That was me, lol!

    1. Paul Kwame Anaman

      I’m so soaked in the spirit whenever I read pieces of this nature. It always tunes my being to reflect and ask ? What am I doing in support of hamanity as a creation of the most supreme being.
      I pray that the Lord God that I serve may renew and redirect my ways so that I can serve him and humanity better.
      I pray for soft and humble heart I pursue my day to day activities.

  2. I see God
    in my cat
    in the sunflower
    at the edge of the road
    in the old woman
    at the grocery
    in early morning rainbows

    I hear God
    in the songs of birds
    the buzz of a dragonfly
    the meow of a kitten
    the voice of my neighbor

    I see, hear, touch and taste God

    …. Carolyn O

  3. Thank you for reminding me of God’s great love for me. Dear Lord help to keep on thanking you for loving me on the good days when it’s easy to remember, but especially in the bad days where it’s easy to forget.

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