Caught between two worlds. The homily today focuses on the constant interaction between this life and the next. Going Behind the Word explores more deeply what this interaction means for us.
Going Behind the Word
Caught Between Two Worlds
In today’s gospel reading, Nicodemus struggles because he is trying to fit the next life, the life in heaven, into our current life, with no changes. And it simply does not fit. There is quite a difference between the two worlds, and in comparing and relating them, we realize that we are often caught between two worlds.
On the one hand, there is the material world we live in now. This is a world in which we are familiar because we can see, touch, hear, smell and taste. Having talked with people who have COVID and lost the sense of taste and smell, the material world we find ourselves in becomes quite different.
The second world we find ourselves in is the spiritual world. This is the world where we find ourselves in a stronger presence of God. For example, when we go to Mass we find ourselves in this world. Mass is that moment when heaven unites with earth since we encounter God’s word, and the real presence of Jesus.
In fact, in every Sacrament we celebrate, there is this intersection between the material and the divine. When we were baptized we had original sin washed away because of the great and powerful action of God. The miraculous forgiveness of sins we experience in the Sacrament of Confession is the intersection of two worlds.
And today we are caught between two worlds because of sin. Our first parents were in paradise, which was God’s original intent for us. We become freed from the material world because Jesus reaches out to save us. He wants to restore for us His original intent. He wants us to be saved.
How to Live When Caught Between Two Worlds
So, of course, one question that may arise is how to live when we are caught between two worlds. What is it that God expects from us as we live in this world with a view on the next world? It seems important to note that while the answer may be simple, it is not always simple living in a way that makes our answer authentic.
For example, in a simple way we know that it matters how we treat others. When we think of this in the abstract, it seems easy. Be nice. Treat others well. Take care of the poor. These are only a few examples of what it means. Thinking about these things is easy. At least for me, doing these things is not so easy.
The benefit is to seek to remember the reality of the two worlds. We still live in this world, but we need to open ourselves to seeing the spiritual world and how it is all around us. God is always present. It is the case that we simply need to do all we can to be as open as possible to God’s presence.
The Word of God
We have already recommended the use of a variety of prayer styles. There is also the gift of reading the Word of God and as you hear and listen to the words of God you can seek to ask God to help you to hear his voice more often and in other ways.
If there is any great benefit, it is the notion that in God we have the gift of knowing that even though we are caught between two worlds, it is the case that God is present in both.