I'm going to dispense with the creative stuff this time, and begin with a personal note: this was easily the hardest Post-of-the-Month vote I've had to participate in since we began this a few years ago. We had a veritable flood of excellent posts this month, some formally nominated and some not, that made this selection difficult. A sincere kudos to all those who were nominated - this was a great month.
Our Post of the Month for September 2010 came from Gebre Menfes Kidus, for his exposition titled, "A Portrait of the Gospel."
A PORTRAIT OF THE GOSPEL
As I watch my wife breastfeed our infant daughter, I see a beautiful portrait of the Gospel. Our little baby is completely dependent upon my wife to feed and nourish her. My wife has everything our daughter needs for sustenance and growth. If my wife does not feed her, our infant will not survive. Yet our daughter must struggle to receive the milk from her mother's breast. I witness our little girl labor to latch on and nurse. I see her exert tremendous energy and effort to receive the life-giving nourishment she needs. But my wife initiates the feeding, cradling our daughter in her loving arms and coaxing her to drink the vital sustenance from her nurturing bosom. I observe a profound oneness that occurs between mother and child during the nursing process- a mystical cooperation that results in our baby's physical and emotional development and growth.
Similarly, God initiates and provides everything necessary for our salvation; but we must "latch on" and struggle to avail ourselves of the spiritual nourishment we desperately need. Our spiritual efforts do not earn us God's love any more than my infant daughter's efforts to nurse earn her the love of my wife. God loves us unconditionally; and He is ever reaching out to us, coaxing us, cradling us, calling us to exert all of our energy and strength in the effort to receive His divine nourishment. Our Lord never withholds His love, His mercy, or His grace. He offers it freely to all people, unconditionally and unmerited. But divine love is only received with the same faith, effort, and struggle of an infant child who is completely dependent upon its mother's suckling sustenance.
As with mother and nursing child, the Gospel is a synergistic cooperation between God and man. We are completely dependent upon the grace of Christ, His Cross, and His Church. But this spiritual dependence involves striving, effort, cooperation, and struggle on our part. Certainly, when our efforts fail and we grow weak in our striving, the unconditional love and strength of God will preserve us- just as a loving mother preserves and protects her infant child. But although our redemption is freely given to us by God, we must cooperate and struggle to avail ourselves of its salvific grace.
I have never seen my wife happier than during the moments when she has nursed one of our infant children. And I have never seen my children more content than during those moments when they suckled from my wife's breast. In analogous fashion, God is never more glorified than when we cling to Him with all of our heart, mind, soul, and strength. And we are never more at peace than when we strive with all of our being to be at one with our God.
There is profound poignancy in the simple endeavor of a mother nursing her infant child. And through this vital act in the cycle of life, God provides a clear portrait of the mystical work of salvation. We are little children, completely dependent upon our heavenly Father. But we must struggle with the faith, innocence, and effort of a newborn infant who clings with all of its essence to the vitality of its mother's bosom. Certainly, this is what Our Lord meant when He said,
"Assuredly, I say to you, whoever does not receive the kingdom of God as a little child will by no means enter into it." [St. Mark 10:15]
"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of Heaven." [St. Matthew 18:3]
Gebre Menfes Kidus
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