Chapter 3 – Everywhere God Wholly Fills All Things, But Neither Heaven Nor Earth Contains Him.
Do the heaven and earth then contain You, since You fill them? Or do You fill them and yet overflow, since they cannot contain You? And where, when the heaven and earth are filled, do You pour forth that which remains of Yourself? Or indeed, is there no need that You who contain all things should be contained by anything, since those things You fill, You fill by containing them? For the vessels that You fill do not sustain You, since even if they were broken, You would not be poured out. And when You are poured out on us, You are not cast down, but we are uplifted. You are not dissipated, but we are drawn together. But as You fill all things, do you fill them with Your whole self, or, since all things cannot contain You wholly, do they contain part of You? Do they all contain the same part at once, or has each its own proper part – the greater more, the small less? If this is so, then is one part of You greater, another less? Or are You wholly everywhere, while nothing altogether contains You?
Are any of you wondering, along with me, what we’ve gotten ourselves into? What is St. Augustine trying to say here?
What I see, as I read over this a few times, is the great paradox that is God. He is beautiful, mysterious, merciful, just, all knowing, all seeing. As we humble ourselves and give up more than we ever thought we could, He grows in us and fills us with more than we ever could have imagined. Before we know God, we are unhappy and anxious, always scurrying around trying to fix everything for ourselves; trying to find the perfect thing that will make us happy – the perfect diet, the perfect car, the perfect person. When all these things fail, we realize that there must be something more. We find God and realize that, by giving up all of those worldly things that we were chasing, and seeking only Him, we realize that He was the only One who could truly make us happy all along. We empty ourselves of everything, but then we get filled back up with even more.
This reminded me of something else too. When I was reading Imitation of Christ, there was a passage about how it seems sometimes that some get more in this life than others. Kempis tells us though, if we fill a container to the top, can it hold any more? If we have two containers of different sizes, can they hold the same amount? If one holds less, but is filled to the top, is it any less full than the larger container? Of course not – THEY ARE BOTH FULL. In the same way, God gives us each what we are designed to have. Just because one of us has less and another more, if we are full of His grace and love, shouldn’t that be enough?
This was a very thought provoking passage. I will definitely be reading it a few more times and thinking on it more.
Deo Juvante, Jen