We Become What We Worship
I was watching the first of Rev. Fr. Robert Barron’s (now bishop-elect) series on Catholicism when one statement struck me. It struck me because it was something new to my ears but at the same time felt like it has been there all along: we become what we worship.
Like everyone else, I have had my share of questioning my faith and my religion. Why do we pray? Why go to mass? Why is God necessary to my life? In these six words I received a summarized answer.
The concept is basically Jewish and a mentality of ancient Israel. To detail it’s background here would take more research and exposition. It’s quite simple: for ancient Israel, there was only one God, YHWH and they are His people. This is their covenant with God. This covenant is not some static agreement. It is a relationship. But it is also not an ordinary relationship.
The beauty of the relationship between Israel and God is that the moment it was established it was already lopsided. Here is a people, obscure and weak, insignificant and powerless, but all the same gathered together before God because He wants to be with them. Even in the Old Testament writings, the theme of God wanting to be with His people is already very strong.
The worship that God asked from His people, mind you, goes beyond our concept of prayer and rituals. Worship for God is that man remain in His presence and is aware of God’s intimate advances in his life. The Ten Commandments and the numerous laws in the Torah were but guidelines to this. And the prophets were quick to point out that this worship is not confined to sacrifices and offerings but a holistic and all-encompassing movement of man towards God. Here is the undertones of the great triad of faith, morals, and liturgy.
What we know about worship then is but a fragment of the worship that God demands from us. We think that going to church weekly on Sundays is enough to fulfill our Christian duties. Far from truth! The worship that God demands is a worship of being. That in who we are – how we think, feel, and love – we are united with Him and in His Being. God loves us so much He wants us to be always in Communion with Him in all that we are.
And here, I end with the great Sacrifice of the Mass where Jesus becomes food and drink for us. Jesus takes a step further in God’s act of stooping down to embrace man. He embraces humanity not just spiritually but also physically. Jesus’ sacramental presence in the consecrated bread and wine, that is His Body and Blood, is the most corporeal way He is present and consumed by man. Biologically, take in Jesus and His Divine Life whenever we receive communion.
In all these developments of God’s relationship with man, from the ancient covenant with Israel to the definitive revelation of Christ, there is that God who call man to communion with Him. He calls him and sets him apart and teaches him how to stay with Him. This is true worship: that man should stay, commune, and in the process become as he was meant to be from the beginning – become like God.