As my mother has been struggling through her final days, I’ve been thinking a lot about my grandparents. They have been gone from this earth for many years, and I truly don’t miss them. (How sad! I know.) My association with all four of them was mechanical, based only upon my parents’ expectations and rules. I was more than a little intimidated by my father’s parents; they were very large people with what seemed to be strange customs. We visited occasionally, but I always felt out of place in that peculiar living room with its imposing organ. When we weren’t actually at their house, my parents seemed to express their doubts about them too.
We visited my mother’s parents more often, but again it was about behaving properly, using good manners at the Sunday meal, helping with the chores, and maybe if I was lucky getting to dip my toes in the always-cool running spring in the backyard. My maternal grandpa seemed harsh and judgmental, while my grandma seemed servile and pitiable. At Christmastime I wanted gifts from them, but never really expected the gifts to be useful or beautiful. I kissed my grandpa because he gave me a quarter to do so. Seriously, it was odd. We never actually talked. Because I was immature when they died, and because for whatever reasons they did not make genuine attempts to know me either, I didn’t truly know them.
Why do I share all this with you? Because so many of us have a relationship with Jesus in the Eucharist that mirrors the sad situation I’ve just described. Perfunctory. Rule-based. Dubious. Bizarre, with brief glimpses of refreshment. Full of misunderstanding and discomfort. Greedy but never satisfied. And why? It can’t be because God has not made a genuine attempt to know us – He became one of us and now invites us to consume Him so that He may in turn consume us! No, it must rest upon our shoulders to become mature in our relationship with God. To not just show up for a Sunday meal or a Christmas present, but to grow up, to reach out, to open our hearts and ask Him to reveal Himself to us. To know beyond certain that we’d miss Him like mad if He were ever to be completely apart from us (which is the very definition of Hell) and to do everything we can to make sure that won’t happen.
If you’d like to talk about your growing relationship with God, feel free to call, email, or stop by.