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The Capacity for Reverence and Awe

In our hubris, we sometimes speak with too much certainty and too little faith; we worship a God-of-our-understanding and, therefore, a God-of-our-own-making. We have lost our capacity for reverence and awe. We speak of God with insolent familiarity, making God “the man upstairs” or “the big guy.”

The late NBC reporter Tim Russert was an altar boy when he was a child, so he was excited when he had the rare opportunity for a private audience with the Pope. He reported:

I’ll never forget it. I was there to convince His Holiness it was in his interest to appear on the Today Show. But my thoughts soon turned away from NBC’s ratings toward the idea of my soul. As I stood there with the Vicar of Christ, I simply blurted, “Bless me, Father!” He put his arm around my shoulders and whispered, “You are the one called Timothy, the man from NBC?” I said, “Yes, yes, that’s me.” “They tell me you are a very important man,” said the Pope. Taken aback, I said, “Your Holiness, there are only two of us in this room, and I am certainly a distant second.” He looked at me and said, “Right.”

 In our relationship with God, we must remember who is who.

Dr. Donald McCullough, president of San Francisco Theological Seminary, has a great book entitledThe Trivialization of God: The Dangerous Illusion of a Manageable Deity. In it, he writes:

Whatever we might eventually say about God because of God’s self-revelation, our thoughts and words must be formed in the profound silence of not-knowing. Our fundamental posture toward God, therefore, must be reverence. At best, we can but touch the hem of God’s garment; our mental arms are too short to embrace Divine Mystery.

 Moses had to take his shoes off because he was standing on holy ground. He found that holy place because he was willing to turn aside from the busyness of life and open himself to mystery, wonder, and awe. We just might rediscover the Holy if we did the same.


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Rev. Michael Piazza

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