Word Magazine December 1993 Page 28
WINGS ARE FOR SOARING
Archpriest James C. Meena
When you were a young person, did you ever have the experience of lying on the Summer grass on a balmy and bright afternoon with a little breeze blowing and looking up into the sky, watching the white puffy clouds drift by and admiring the birds of the air as they soar and flew through the heavens? Have you ever imagined yourself having the capacity to fly and to soar in that same manner? If it were possible for a man or woman to fly, that person would need wings, and if one had but one wing it would be impossible for him to fly. It requires at least two wings for flight to be achieved. It requires balance, it requires an understanding of aerodynamics, whether instinctive or through knowledge, and it requires a certain amount of confidence and courage on the part of the thing or person who is going to fly.
In our modern age it’s possible for an individual to soar through the air without the aid of mechanized technology. Sail planes have been in use for a long time and I see young people soaring through the air all the time with their kites and parachutes and various types of paraphernalia striving to imitate the birds. But it always takes a balance; a person with one wing on one side of his body cannot fly.
So it is with our relationship with Christ. Without wings we cannot fly. With only one wing, it’s impossible to fly. If we say that we believe in God and we have nothing else, then we have only one wing and there is no way that we can fly. If we say that we believe that Jesus Christ is the only begotten Son of God and do nothing about that belief, we have only one wing and we cannot fly. If we only have faith and do not have love, we cannot fly. If we have love and do not have hope, we cannot fly. For no one with but one wing is able to soar through the air in defiance with the law of gravity. Our Christian Faith tries to create the possibility of us becoming like the angels of heaven. We read in the book of ISAIAH and we hear in the Liturgy of St. Basil the Great that awesome description of those heavenly beings who surround the Throne of God, six winged, “with two they cover their eyes and with two they cover their ears and with two they fly.” ( Isaiah 6:2). You and I can have six wings as well, using them all at the same time or using them in pairs alternately. But it is God’s intention that we be spiritually winged and that we soar through life and that we soar over the problems and vicissitudes of life; that we fly around the barriers that life places before us: that we fly through the obstacles that life would cause to hinder us.
The first wing is the wing of submission to the will of God. Total and complete. This comes after having acknowledged that God is and that He is the Master of the Universe and the wing that counterbalances that which is the wing of repentance. The wing of offering up our sins to God with the sure knowledge that He has the capacity, the desire and the ability to obliterate those sins. That’s the first pair of wings.
The second pair of wings is made up of knowledge on the one side and faith on the other. Knowledge that takes us just far enough for us to believe that God is. Just far enough for us to understand the eternal truths of Christ and the Church to the utmost of our capacity and then faith on the other side to take us the rest of the way. Because it is one of the wonderful principles of God that He gives us only enough information to justify our having faith in Him. If He gave us sufficient information for us to prove His existence, He wouldn’t require faith of us. If He gave us sufficient information for us to demonstrate irrefutably that Jesus of Nazareth is the Messiah and the only begotten Son of God, then we wouldn’t need faith. But God, through His Witnesses gives us only enough information to satisfy the requirements of human intellect, and then He requires of us to go the rest of the way on faith. So the second pair of wings is knowledge and faith.
Finally the third pair of wings are love and hope without which none of the preceding are of any merit or value. Without love and hope, none of the things that we read, none of the things that we utter, none of the things that we proclaim, has any meaning because everything that Chris exemplified and preached are ultimately crystallized in the promise of resurrection in the commandments of love which were the ultimate commandments that He gave to us, and that gives us our hope.
It is for this reason that Christ came into the world; that you and I might know that we have the means of reconciling ourselves with God through repentance; of joining ourselves with God through commitment, by fulfilling that commitment through our discipleship and through our daily style of living, through prayer and fasting and good works. It is incumbent upon us to grow in knowledge of God, to the limits of our intellectual ability and when our intellectual capacities are not sufficient for us to understand all that we feel, that we need to understand about God, that we might then call upon our faith to sustain us. Our faith is not only in a merciful and loving God but our faith is in those who receive the revelations hat He extended to us, the Patriarchs, the Prophets, the Apostles, those who witness of the existence of God and of His relationship to us. When faith and knowledge sustain us to the degree that they can, we develop within ourselves the capacity of hope, because by hoping, we justify our acts of love. Because it is the act of love that Chris committed for us that gave us hope in the first place. We are no longer justified in calling ourselves Christians because by the accident of birth we are Christians. Time has come when we must use all of the talents that Christ God has given to us in order that we might glorify His holy name. On this Feast of the Nativity of Christ, as we acknowledge and celebrate His birth, I call upon you as a spiritual father to offer all of your talents to Him, to offer everything that you are to Him, to become truly disciples of Christ, to be reborn as you are about to celebrate His Birth, to offer up our spirit as a sacrifice to God, that you might be true ministers of His holy word in the year to come, that you might soar through life on the wings which He has provided for you.
It is incumbent upon us to grow in knowledge of God…
Father James C. Meena is a retired priest of our Archdiocese, living in Parma, Ohio.