A Pilgrim's Catechism
The Occasional Thoughts of a 21st-Century Roman Catholic on Journey
Towards the Reign of God
Gerard David: God the Father
What is revelation?
It is not an uncommon experience for men and women of very differing states of life, in many times and places, to be the recipients of important knowledge about who they are, and about their destiny, knowledge of which they have no other explanation than it has come from beyond. This knowledge comes while awake or in dreams, in the midst of a busy routine or when alone and reflective. It can be carried by strange messengers seemingly from another world. It can be received in visions or it can just be there in the depth of one's being calling out to be recognized.
Some of this knowledge can be accounted for as self-induced even delusional but it has been the consensus of humanity over the many centuries that much of it is actually from the beyond, that it is God talking to us, God revealing himself to us, revealing who we really are and the future to which we are called.
God is infinite and eternal. Cause of the world, he is not within the world so he does not act here or there, now or then. God just acts. His one act is identical with his being. We look to God as creator. God doesn’t create this and then that somewhere else or sometime later. God just creates in his eternal now.
Just as God does not create here or there, now or then, God’s talking to us, his revelation, also must just be. As God in his infinite, eternal being just creates, so he just reveals, one revelation, spoken once and for all, to be heard in every successive moment of finite creation, by every single person, in their every living moment from the very first in the womb.
Because human beings are finite, limited by their very creatureliness, the physical and cultural situation in which they find themselves, their personal sinfulness and the evil that surrounds them, God’s one revelation, spoken, oh, so clearly, is only heard in part. Sometimes this revelation is only barely heard and is then supplemented by imagination, delusion and even deceit.
God’s speaking to us, his revelation to us, is integral to his summons to share his divine life that is a life expressed in knowledge and love.
In his inner life God knows and loves. Life, Knowledge and Love: Father, Son and Holy Spirit. As God, from the first moment of personal existence in the womb calls us to share in his very life, it is also a call to knowledge and love. To accept God’s call to share every more fully in his life is then at once to accept more completely his revelation, to grow in knowledge of him and ourselves, as well as to grow in love, giving ourselves to him, and in him to others.
Christoph Weigel: In the Beginning was the Word
Is revelation made through the Word?
God’s being and his act is one. There are nevertheless distinctions within God of giving, receiving and sharing which have led believers to recognize three persons in the one God: Father, Son or Word, and Holy Spirit. It should always be remembered that the word person is used merely to affirm these distinctions and not in the modern sense of person as a center of consciousness. There is only one center of consciousness in God. Otherwise there would be three gods which would be a contradiction.
Although God’s act is one, identical with his being, it has been the custom to assign results of God’s act outside himself to one or another of the three persons.
Thus we say that God reveals himself through the Word but it is only a manner of speaking. It is the one God who reveals himself.
Marc Chagall: Moses Receiving the Tablets of the Law
Is revelation made gradually?
Since God’s act is one, revelation is one. Revelation is made in its entirety to all of humanity and to each person once and for all in the eternal now but is heard at the depth of one’s being in each successive moment in time.
Revelation appears to be gradual because, in any given moment in time, either on the part of the people or of a particular person, revelation is only partially understood. This partial understanding is due to our creaturliness, the physical and cultural situation in which we find ourselves, our personal sinfulness and the evil that surrounds us.
Thus at Mount Sinai, the Israelites, listening to the one revelation of God, realize that he is God for them, calling them to freedom, and requiring that they love one another but they could not yet understand that God was sharing his own life with them and calling them to grow in that life. They could only think of the land as their destiny with a limited moral code to govern their lives.
Jesus Christ is the fullness of God’s revelation in the flesh but again, like the revelation spoken in its fullness at the depth of our being at every moment, Jesus is only partially understood.