In Hope Against Darkness, Richard Rohr discusses and unfolds the theology of St. Francis of Assisi. He speaks of the freedom found in coming to know that we are nothing. And that God is everything. He describes this as the thing that will “overcome the great divide” within ourselves and in the world, filling in that gap with a “place of spacious compassion.”
The move toward wholeness is a move toward awareness that all things are held together by God. Nothing is left out. No one is left out. All of this is accomplished — is being accomplished — through the generous action of God.
In a recent adult education class, we were discussing this idea of our nothingness, our inability to save ourselves or “win God’s favor” through any merit of our own. God loves us simply because God is God. Our job on this planet is to pay attention, to wake up! to this reality, as we are reminded during this Advent season.
As we discussed this idea of God’s vastness and the reality of our nothingness, one man posited this: ”It is as if, at some point, this very vast, powerful thing meets this very small powerless thing.” What a beautiful description of Advent! Mary likely would not put it exactly that way. But we have a record of her response in Luke 1:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
For He has regarded the low estate of His handmaiden,
For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
For He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.
(Photo taken with permission and appropriate remuneration at Masai village in Tanzania.)