You Won’t Find Him Up There…

It is a problem and paradox older than the Tower of Babel.  You remember the story of the Tower of Babel.  After the great flood the people spoke one language and traveled together in migration.  Then they built the soaring tower toward heaven; perhaps to usurp God.  A coup?  God confounded them by causing them to speak different languages and thus the coup was thwarted.  It is not a coincidence that at Pentecost the apostles were in the upper room and gathered in Jerusalem at the time where men from every nation who spoke in many foreign languages, but the apostles were given the gift of speaking their language so as to unite them together under the one God.  Pentecost undoes the confusion of Babel.  The story of the Tower is a similar story to the hubris of Adam and Eve.  These are stories of man’s rebellious pride against God.

The story of the Tower of Babel tells us two things:  there is always that streak of Original Sin that runs through every person that has the potential to fight God.  It is called pride.  The story also tells us something more:  that God is not necessarily found where you might think.  Saint Augustine explains the paradox.  He tells us that God is in heaven, but when we reach up to Him in His heaven, as did the builders of the Tower of Babel, He disappears from our attempted grasp.  Saint Augustine says that it is only when you lower yourself, God then swoops down to you and lifts you up.  The saints have always told us that it is inflated pride that chases God away.  God detests arrogant and corrosive pride, and can do nothing with it.  Pride is the original sin of Adam.  Pride is the sin of Lucifer.  Pride is the sin of Judas.   “I know better than God!”  The saints tell us that nothing makes God flee faster from the scene than when we get up our pride.   In doing so we are telling God “get lost, I will handle this.”  And so, He does.

But if we wish to have God come close to us, then nothing attracts Him to us quicker than humility.  Humility becomes the super-magnate that brings Him to us quicker than anything else.  Time and again it comes true that God is not so much found “up there,” but “down here” in the depths of human humility.

– Fr. Gerard Gordon