‘At the beginning of the world, God commanded the earth to bring forth “the green herb, bearing its seed, and every fruit tree yielding fruit, each after its kind, which also has its seed in itself.”’(Gen.1:11) This was the passage of scripture the wise and blessed Francis de Sales made use of in his book, ‘Finding God’s Will for You’ which I have started reading and which from the beginning has captivated me. What was he trying to say with regard to this text? He was trying to draw what I would like to call an ‘analogy of progress’, By this I mean that from that verse we see that in the way God created the green herb ‘bearing its seed’ and every fruit tree yielding fruit, each after its kind, ‘which also has its seed in itself’ an analogy of progress or continuity is drawn by God himself. He did not create the trees and the herbs to just live on their own and in a way remain stable or lasting in a fixed manner of existence, he created them with a view to increase, to grow. The essence of the ‘seed’ is to, in a way, create a pattern for a growth potential, an increase potential.
He does this as well with Man, creating him and the Woman and blessing them to ‘increase and multiply’ (Gen. 1:27-28). For me this was a spectacular observation from the scriptures. Sometimes we tend to ignore the great treasury of knowledge and example that are stored up with the saints. The truth is, this is part of the codes with which God built the whole of creation, and for blessed Francis this is also part of the codes for our supernatural lives in Christ. For him, our hearts are like the earth nourished by God’s very life and Word to bring forth spiritual plants which bear fruits of holy works that are impregnated with seeds of desire to further advance in the journey to perfection. This means that our lives in Christ are not meant to be static, or set in a particular field of existence rather they are meant to be in a continual state of advancement towards perfection. Our Lord himself speaks of this when he says to us in the Gospels, ‘Be ye Perfect’ (Matthew 5:48). It then seems to me that ‘perfection’ is not that stable, unchanging state of existence, or that peak or set point, but consists in that dynamic flux that is charged towards the infinite mystery that is God with a zeal for continuous advancement in justice and righteousness. And so it is not possible to have such a state in our spiritual lives where it doesn’t get better and it doesn’t get worse.
But in reality we find that many of us find ourselves set in such an illusion of a state. The enemy of our salvation delights that we are set there because it’s so bad a position, it’s such a position where we have no idea of what is going on in our spiritual lives, we become directionless and even worse, careless about directions. We become complacent in that illusion of deceit that we do not see ourselves drifting far away from God and yet not realize it. What a terrible way the subtle serpent uses to catch us off guard. I believe dearest friends that it is in this illusory state that most Christians of our day, in my country are caught up in. It is even worse that it is sometimes implied in certain sermons by some certain churches when they preach a theology of complacency and lack of involvement of the Christian himself in working out his salvation. (cf. Phil. 2:12). I do not need to give examples of the various ways we are set in this state of illusory spiritual inertia because some of us, if not most, need but only examine our journeys with God and ask where we are actually headed, perfection or just on the average ‘a good Christian’ or ‘a good Catholic’. What motivates us to the relationship it seems we have with God- Law, Society or Love? Many of us have been drenched in minimalism and a drought of love in our hearts that we only ask what is the least we could do and still be called Christian and also not be doomed for hell. We go to Mass on Sundays, we say morning and sometimes evening prayers, and we belong to one group or another in Church and we think, ‘Oh that should be good enough, even my friends don’t do as much’. We frown at people who are actively trying to find God in their daily lives and accuse them of wanting to be too Catholic than the Pope. We are satisfied by being caught up in the observances without having a spiritual foundations for the fruits of those observances to take root within us for active progress towards perfection etc.
This illusory state is what the Bible calls ‘Lukewarm’ in Rev.3:15-16. In this message to the Church of Laodicea, the Lord says, ‘I know thy works, that thou art neither cold nor hot. I would that thou were cold or hot, but because thou art Lukewarm, I will begin to vomit thee out of my mouth’. One thing I observed in particular was that this Church of Laodicea was called in verse 14, ‘the beginning of the creation of God’, in many ways this represents us Christians in who God started his work of the new creation in Christ, especially Catholics, the first Christians and beginners of Christendom. Some of us have abandoned the journey towards perfection through the grace Christ gives us in the Sacraments and have begun to embrace the illusory wiles of Lukewarmness that that Ancient dragon who has sworn not to leave us at peace I setting before us. (cf. Rev. 12:17).
This particular evil, blessed Francis reveals to us. has even taking another dimension, in what I would like to call ‘the trap of starting and never continuing’, many of us who try so hard to be zealous in the spiritual life, we begin a particular spiritual exercise only to stop half-way as we are attracted by another and then we also stop along the way as another comes along. The enemy presents to us multiple and increasing ways of achieving holiness, capitalizing on our poor desires for God and our weak human wills and virtues in a way that after dragging us through a series of virtuous beginnings, we are no more than how we started, we find that nothing has changed; something I would like to also call an ‘ideology of false continuity’.
We all are summoned back to that Spiritual Warfare my brothers and sisters. We thank God for the gift of his holy ones and special ones among us whom he continues to use by his inspiration to point us to the path of righteousness and holiness. It would pay us to take full advantage of this message, come to our Lord in holy reparation and make firm resolutions to be afire with his Spirit working in and through us for his good pleasure. We need to once again rekindle the fire of Divine Love in us that we may once more and forever be the burning ones who would shine God’s light to a world so confused and in need of Christ’s Light. May Our Lady, the Woman of Revelations 12, who continues to protect us from the various machinations of the evil one through her many visits to us continue also to intercede for us that in the end, Victory shall be ours in Christ.
St. Francis de Sales, Pray for us!!!
From your Friend and Brother: Chibuzor F. Ogamba