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BEFORE THE CROSS | God reveals His identity one small action at a time

A lot can happen in a year.

For example, if you took piano lessons for one hour a week, and played the piano for 10 minutes a day, you could play amazing things by the end of a year.

My point isn't about playing the piano. My point is a simple question: What do you want to be different a year from now, when we close the Christmas season and shift into Ordinary Time again?

First of all, whatever your goal is, maybe that's not only your hope for yourself, maybe it's God's hope in you.

And second, maybe living into that hope is like learning to play the piano. Amazing things could happen if you went to Mass — there's your one hour a week — and then spent 10 minutes a day focused on that thing: 10 minutes of prayer, 10 minutes studying the Catechism, 10 minutes reaching out to friends, 10 minutes doing a service project and so on.

It wouldn't take more than 10 minutes a day. But it would take 10 minutes every day.

Step by step. That's how God shaped salvation history. The readings from First Samuel this week make the point. Hannah prays. Samuel is conceived. Samuel wakes up in the middle of the night and says "Here I am Lord." The Israelites bring the Ark of the Covenant into battle. Saul is sent by his father to locate some wandering livestock. Samuel anoints Saul as king. God has a big plan — but it unfolds one small step at a time.

That's how Jesus revealed His identity, too. The readings from Mark this week make the point. Each day there's one episode. One thing happens. By the end of the week, a picture is taking shape about who Jesus is.

This step-by-step approach is called the law of gradualism. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains how God uses it: "God communicates Himself to man gradually. He prepares him to welcome by stages the supernatural Revelation that is to culminate in the person and mission of the Incarnate Word, Jesus Christ" (CCC, 53). So, one action at a time in salvation history, Yahweh showed who He was — not just one god among many, but the one true God of heaven and earth. And, one action at a time in the Gospels, Jesus showed who He was — not just one rabbi among others, but God in the flesh.

But where God reveals His identity one step at a time, we grow into our identity in Christ one step at a time. St. John Paul II explained how the law of gradualism applies to us: "(M)an, who has been called to live God's wise and loving design in a responsible manner, is a historical being who day by day builds himself up through his many free decisions; and so he knows, loves and accomplishes moral good by stages of growth" ("Familiaris Consortio," 34).

How do you want to be different a year from now? Don't be daunted if that looks pretty big. God isn't afraid to take one small step at a time. We shouldn't be, either. 

RELATED ARTICLE(S):FRENTE A LA CRUZ | Dios revela su identidad poco a poco

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