As I observe the growth of my young granddaughter, it is interesting to see how and when she is willing to take turns or share with a school mate or cousin her toys and books and other things. This ability shifts and changes during early childhood. One reason for the difficulty with sharing and taking turns at her age is the development of the abstract concept of time. The development of time progresses when the child is able to link events with the passage of time. Time and sharing are important aspects of spirituality as well.
It can be very spiritually productive to meditate on the ways in which we share with Christ. This can help us feel closer to Jesus. He of course is always with us and near us, but for various reasons our sense of this nearness ebbs and flows depending on what is going on in our lives and in our consciousness. As I mature (a code word for getting older), I find myself working on being more sensitive to the nearness of God throughout the day. This helps me to be at peace and has other personal benefits, but more importantly it enables me to live a better life of service to Christ and to others.
So what are a few ways in which we share with God?
One of them is creativity. God the Father created heaven and Earth, and the Spirit joins with a husband and wife for the creation of children. This is a wonderful and joyful sharing. When we create anything new and invite God to be a part of it, the Spirit is sharing with us. I think of music, gardening, poetry, painting, construction projects…the list is endless.
Closely related to this is love. When we love, whether it is the intense love of marriage or in a close friendship or even kindness shown to a stranger through love, we are sharing in God’s great love. Love is the new and great commandment given by Jesus, and we find it in all four Gospels (Matthew 22:36-40, Mark 12:29-34, Luke 10:25-28, and John 13:34).
When we pray and carry out Jesus’ command to receive forgiveness as we forgive others (see Matthew 6:9-13 and Luke 11:2-4), we are joined with God to experience his ocean of mercy. We are merciful because we have first been shown mercy, and we cannot be forgiven if we are unable to forgive others (see Matthew 18: 21-35). We share this with Christ.
In 1984, Blessed Pope John Paul II wrote an excellent apostolic letter on the topic of suffering. In it he describes how we share in the suffering of Christ: “Each one is also called to share in that suffering through which the Redemption was accomplished.” But then he adds that because of this we also have a share in the resurrection: “Man finds in the resurrection a completely new light, which helps him to go forward through the thick darkness of humiliations, doubts, hopelessness and persecution.” We get to share in God’s comfort because as humans we share in Jesus’ suffering (see Romans 8:17). This apostolic letter reminds us that Jesus warned us that life would be difficult, but that we have the opportunity to join our sufferings with those of Christ.
Any time we participate in the Eucharist, we share in the Body and Blood of Christ. At each Mass we are spiritually connected across time to the Last Supper, the ultimate Passover and we share in it. At our Baptism and again at Confirmation we receive and share in the Spirit. So the sacraments allow us to share with God.
And one final example, though there are others, is our sharing in the mission of Christ. While on Earth, Jesus did many good works of love and spread the Good News of our salvation and Redemption. We are called to continue Christ’s mission, to do God’s will and to glorify Him. In this way, we share in this great mission that was given to God’s Son.
Through sharing we are joined in love, and when this happens time and space are erased. This is a spiritual experience. God is with us and in us.