| By Reverend Father Charles E. Irvin

We are people who belong

In FAITH we are following along in the way, in the truth, and in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. In our first issue we began with His birth. Now, by following His life’s journey, we enter into the world of relationships with others.

Belonging and not belonging are perhaps the two greatest issues we face as creatures made in the image and likeness of God. For God Himself is “Persons in Belonging.” The Holy Trinity becomes the persons they are in their belonging each to the other. The God we know in Jesus is a community. God is family, interdependence, persons in commitment, persons who find themselves in self-donating love for the others in the Trinity of their being. That reality is impressed into those elements that cause us to be who we are. Our deepest urges originate in those elements.

Other great world religions see God differently than we do. We see God in Jesus of Nazareth who became, as a result of His self-donating love for us, the Anointed One, the Christ of Risen Glory. Furthermore, we see God as Jesus revealed Him – as “Abba,” “Papa”. In other words, we find God in familial intimacy.

That is precisely where we first learned to find our very own innerselves – in familial intimacy. It takes a family to individuate a person. It is in a family that we journey into the exploration and development of our self-identity. It is there that we first come to discover ourselves, our character, our uniqueness, and our individuality. Paradoxically, we are individuated in belonging. After all, to “discover” means that we must strip away our own preconceptions, our own individual perceptions, and see things as others see them.

Many try to find themselves only in themselves. Many attempt to be self-defined, self-actuated, self-contained, etc. All such attempts end in emotional, psychological and spiritual dysfunctional failure. Why? Because all of these modern day “virtues” end up in barren self-centeredness.

Wisdom teaches us the truth that we are made to belong. We are not made to be simply by our own selves, sufficient unto ourselves. Self-sufficiency is a delusion. We are completed and “filled to the full” only in belonging. Even the interconnectedness of all material things is yet another epiphany of the truth that God exists in interconnectedness. Therefore, all that springs from His creative love bears the stamp of His own being.

As St. Paul reminds us, faith gives us that vision. It “proves the existence of the realities that at present are unseen” (Hebrews 11:1). Human relationships can, therefore, be sacramental – icons – those external realities that bring us into the presence of God.

And this is what our magazine, a magazine simply called FAITH, is all about.