I was with a group of people at my local parish the other night discussing questions from the Gospels and how we might ask ourselves those same questions during contemplative prayer. One question that came to mind is from Acts 9:5. In it, Saul who would later become Paul was persecuting the church and “breathing threats and murder.” This guy wasn’t playing around.
On his way to Damascus, Jesus appeared to him in a bright light. Saul’s response is beautiful, and it is the question we should all be asking, “Who are you, Lord?” or even “Who exactly are you, God?”
Paul spent several years after his encounter with the Lord in prayer, fasting, and listening for the answer to his question. It is much like the question posed in the Gospels by Jesus when he asked, “Who do you say I am?”
And yet, in all of this, the Church Fathers flip things around. They reveal to us that in order for us to find out the answer to our question we must find out who we are. Whoa, that doesn’t make sense. To know God we must first know ourselves?
We can repeat the answer, “You are Jesus the Christ” and mentally ascend to that belief. But that does us only so much good. Even a parrot can be taught to repeat that phrase.
It is an answer that we must experience. And it is best learned under the guidance and assistance of a spiritual director who has been on this path him/herself.
Christ hasn’t called us simply to learn a better doctrine or accept a better belief system. He has called us to know Him and to experience Him through the mysteries of the Church and every day communion with Him.
Through those things we dive into the depths of our souls, discovering evil and darkness; however, we will eventually find Light. That Light is within us, but the Source is beyond us. We must embark on a journey within to discover Him.
So, if you’re expecting me to give you the answer to the question, “Who are you, God?” then I would ask you to read the post once more. This is not an answer that can be taught, it must be learned through experience.