22 May 2007. Tuesday of the 7th Week of Easter
John 17, 1-11. The Knowledge of God
The 2nd Week of the Spiritual Exercises of St. Ignatius is called the heart of the Exercises. It is the heart of the 30-day retreat because it is in this period that the retreatant gets to know Jesus. Thus in the 2nd Week, the grace being asked for is this: That I may know the Lord, so that I may love him and follow Him. Thus, we cannot love the Lord as He is, or follow Him, unless we know Him.
What does knowledge of God mean? The Gospel of John which we read today says that “to know God is eternal life.” To know God is an underlying idea in the Old Testament. Wisdom is “a tree of life to those who lay hold of her (Proverbs 3, 18).” “To know Thy power is the root of immortality (Wisdom 5, 3).” The Golden Age according to the prophet Habbakuk is when “the earth will be filled with the knowledge of God (Habbakuk 2, 14).” Also, Proverbs (3,6) tell us, “Know Him, and He will direct thy path.” or “Seek me, and life” as the prophet Amos said (5,4). To seek God is to know him. The Broadway musical, Godspell, has the song, Day By Day: “Day by Day, O dear Lord, three things I pray: To see thee more clearly, love thee more dearly, follow him more nearly, day by day.”
Knowledge of God has some form of intellectual knowledge. Knowledge of God has some objectivity about it. Some facts about Him. It is not about how YOU FEEL about Him. Because that feeling should be confirmed by the facts about Him. For example, it is tremendous to know that God is not stern, cruel but a loving God. It is tremendous to know that God is one — and not many. Imagine how burdensome it would be if we follow many gods as the Greeks; and we are subject to their whims and fancies? If you know a person, that knowledge does not depend on how you feel about him or her, but about the facts about that person.
How do we know some intellectual facts about God? First, we have the Scripture, the Word of God himself. The readings at weekday masses have a two-year cycle; and the Sunday readings have a 3-year cycle. If you come to mass every day, divide your age into 2. The result will tell you how many times you have heard the whole bible in your life. If you just attend Sunday mass, then divide your age into three. The result will yield the number of times you have completed the whole Scripture. Thus, the question is this: How many times did you listen to the Word of God? Has Catholic life been about following rituals?
Second, knowledge is also used to mean sexual knowledge. Don’t get me wrong. Genesis (4,1) says “Adam knew Eve his wife and she conceived, and bore Cain.”. When the angel asked Mary, she said, “How can this be? Since I do not know man? (Luke 1, 34).” The knowledge between husband and wife is the most intimate knowledge. Here, they are no longer two, but one. The sexual act is about being one, when the heart, mind, soul in true love makes two into one. Therefore, to know God is not merely to have an intellectual knowledge of him; but to have an intimate, personal relationship with Him.
Therefore, how do we have eternal life? It is to know God. First, get to know the facts of God by studying Scripture. By listening to the Word of God. Second, get to pray. It is only when we pray and spend time with God, that we gain that personal and intimate relationship.
Only then that our love of God becomes genuine and informed. We prevent ourselves from loving the IDEA of God. And when we get to know God, it would be easier for us to follow Him more deeply.