November 2003

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ,

Fr. Antony PortraitGlory to Jesus Christ!

St. Paul spoke to the people gathered on the Areopagus at an altar he found there which was dedicated to the "Unknown God." In this wonderful sermon he taught about a God who is not bounded by anything, a God who sustains all things by His active presence and in whom all things exist. In Him we live and move and have our being... (Acts 17:28). Many of the saints, fathers, and mothers of the Church have written about God in this way learning through their own spiritual journeys the truth of it. St. Theophilus of Antioch writes,

God has given to the earth the breath which feeds it. it is His breath that gives life to all things. And if He were to hold His breath, everything would be annihilated. His breath vibrates in yours, in your voice. It is the breath of God that you breathe - and you are unaware of it.

The image is striking and hte impications are mind-boggling. While God is utterly distinct from His creation yet He is intimately involved in it. We sometimes speak of God as being "far away" and there is a sense in which this is true. God is the Creator of all that is, He is uncreated, and while we creatures rely entirely on Him to exist, He relies on nothing. We have received being from Him, but He is Being itself. For us existence is a fgift, for God it is His nature. this gulf can never be erased. We will always be creatures and God will always be the Creator.

This means that God's grace sustains all things, all creatures, all human beings at all times. There is no place He is not. The psalmist proclaims (Psalm 139:8),

If I ascend to the heavens, you are there;
If I lie down in Sheol, you are there too.

The God and Father revealed this to us in innumerable ways, through prophets, miracles, the beauty and sublimity of creation itself; but most perfectly come through the Incarnation of the Son of God, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. It was not enough either for God or for humanity that the message should come mediated through human beings alone. It is like a lover sending letters to his beloved yet never coming himself to meet her. The only way to satisfy the longing of Divine Love was for God to come Himself. And this He did through the birth of His Son who is Emmanuel, God with us.

It is not too soon to turn our eyes towards the coming Season of Advent, the time of preparation for the Nativity of Christ who is Himself the great hidden mystery, the blesssed goal, the purpose for which everything was created. Fro with his gaze fixed on this goal God called all things into existence (St. Maximus the Confessor). It is when we also set our gaze upon Christ and make Him our one and only goal that we as Christians and a parish community will not lose our way.

Yours in Christ,

Fr. Antony Hughes