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Thursday, September 6, 2012


by Susan Fox 

Hans Christian Andersen must be rolling in his grave.

If you have had to go through the tabloid gauntlet at a grocery checkout line recently, you’re probably aware that a certain British prince enjoyed a naked romp in Las Vegas in August.

This is  an opposite tale to one Andersen wrote in which an emperor is tricked by two weavers into parading naked in front of his subjects, thinking he is wearing fine clothes invisible only to the incompetent.

For Prince Harry was parading naked, but he wasn’t … naked, that is.

Now it may have appeared to his companions that he was naked, but in fact in a spiritual sense he was choosing … not to be naked. We all do it. We try to avoid being naked before God.  There are many different ways. My favorite is eating brownies (I’m diabetic). Some people escape by playing computer games, gambling, drinking alcohol, and adultery. Oh, and don’t forget the great anesthetizer -- shopping!

But the prince was able to beat being naked before God by actually being naked!

The state of being naked in the Presence of God is a great suffering – not willingly undertaken for fun. Look at poor Adam and Eve after they ate of the fruit of knowledge of good and evil in the Garden of Eden.

“Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew they were naked.” (Gen. 3:7) Ouch.

So the first thing they did was sew fig leaves together and make themselves an apron. Then they hid.

Now these were the people who walked with God every afternoon – naked. They were a happy pair. They loved being with God -- naked. But they ate that bad fruit, and then when they heard God coming, they hid.

God was the big Sugar Daddy who created their entire world and brought them into existence. If you read the book of Genesis up to this point, you see all the love and preparation that went into those seven “days” of creation: how He made earth and seas, stars and sun, all sorts of living things, fruit-bearing plants and animals, and God saw it was good. It is good. We can see it’s good.

How tenderly God brought the animals to Adam to name. Then He gave him a lovely woman to be his companion. Adam had all he could eat. He lacked nothing. But whoops! God forgot to tell him he was naked! The snake was quite happy to provide misinformation: “You will be like gods!” (But he forgot the disclaimer: You will feel naked before God)

It must have really hurt God when He came looking for the man and woman He loved and found them hiding from Him.   “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten of the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” (Gen 3:11) Ouch.

Yes, being naked before God hurts -- even today.

I think that’s why so many people avoid it.

But God has given us the power to clothe ourselves in the Holy Spirit -- in the waters of Baptism and Repentance.

God so loved the world – the whole world -- that He gave His only Son. In the Prologue of the Gospel of John, it recounts how Jesus Christ, True God and True Man, came into the world, “yet the world knew him not. He came to his own home, and his own people received him not.” (John 1:10-11) (Hint: they didn’t want him to notice they were naked!)

“But to all who received him, who believed in His name, he gave power to become children of God.” (Gen 1:12 God gave us the POWER to become His family, to walk naked with God as a child without shame and in all joyfulness. This birth into God’s family takes place, not by blood, not by the will of the flesh nor by the will of man, but by God Himself. We Christians celebrate it in the Sacrament of Baptism. And Catholics are able to receive forgiveness after Baptism in the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Childlike joy and humility is the fruit of both sacraments.

I was blessed to be able to baptize a dying man last December. He was a Vietnam War veteran, who had suffered much, and besides being physically sick, he had a lot of emotional pain, and he said this was the hardest to endure. We used to have contests over who had the most doctors. But he couldn’t understand why I was so happy when I was sick too. I thought about it, and decided it must be my relationship with Jesus Christ and the fact that I regularly receive His life in the Sacraments of the Catholic Church. So we baptized John. Goodness, what a shock. His whole demeanor changed. You could see it on his face – joy. He died three months later.

But even if you are a baptized Christian or go to confession regularly, you  still dive for the bushes when sin happens. One minute you manage to do something God wants and then next minute you are losing your temper with the store clerk.

I had a good Catholic friend, and she would turn the statues of Jesus and Mary to the wall so they couldn’t look at her. “Sorry Jesus and Mary, I wasn’t good today,” she’d say. Another friend has nightmares about publicly “being naked” in the Church during Sunday services.  Ha, ha, I wonder what that is about?

I do often suffer from the “dive in the bushes” syndrome when God comes around. So a priest reminded me of John’s Gospel where Jesus announces, “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.” (John 6:51)

Of course, people were thinking like the natural man:  “Is He going to give us his dead flesh to eat? Eew.” Many people stopped following him after that, and Jesus asked the 12 apostles, “Will you also go away?” (John 6:67)

Dear human St. Peter, who will deny Jesus three times, weep bitterly afterwards, and then after the Resurrection remind the Lord, “You know I love you!” (Three times no less.), is the one who answered Our Lord.

“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life!” (John  6:68) Peter said.

With that advice, I found that there is no other place to go. There is no true happiness in that brownie, none in shopping, nor in computer games, and least of all at a drunken party in Las Vegas.  Jesus is the Lover who covers our nakedness and misery. Only Jesus.

I found that at my Baptism, He gave me the Power to be a Child of God. I found that when I show him in prayer my naked thoughts, my naked actions, the naked feelings of my heart, no matter how bad they are --- He makes up for what is lacking in me. He closes the gap.

So put on your holy garments.  
And abide in Him. 

Don't Miss Lawrence Fox's poignant reflection on the West's Response to the Beheading of American Catholic Journalist James Foley  LAMENT FOR WESTERN HUMANITY

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