If you have ever been to London, England you may have seen a popular tee-shirt or souvenir covered with the words Mind The Gap. Even if you have not, you may have heard these words and wondered what they mean.
Like many English sayings, they come from a public service announcement; this one being an indication to be careful of the gap which separates a London subway train from the platform. If you have ridden the “tube” (Londoners name for their subway system) you may not have read the notice, but will probably have heard it all day long from the audio announcements which play continously. The message is a warning message, don’t fall because of the step and the gap. Today there a whole industry now built up around London Transport’s use of these words, including films, records and novels using the same name. What does this have to do with God or theology, you might well ask?
This week, I will be traveling to DC for (hopefully) the last part of my doctoral program at Catholic University. In reviewing my treatise I noted two theologians Lonergan and St. Thomas Aquinas seems to talk to this issue in an interesting way. We often think of taking an action to move towards God as a bridge to be traversed, as if there is a gap between us and Him. That we need to close this gap. Sometimes we think of prayer and the sacraments as a way of closing this gap, that there is a separation which prayer or sacraments will help us close it up.
One way to close this gap is sometimes described as the “billiard ball effect” where one ball hits another causing the movement to occur. In theological terms this is called causality, and in the case of the Mind the Gap metaphor, this would close the gap; achieved by taking a step over the gap.
However, Lonergan and Aquinas do not see it this way. Because God is always there, always on, there is no gap to close. We do not need to move towards God as He is already present in us. If God is everywhere, that includes us; so there is no “gap” to close, merely a need for us to turn inwards and see where He is operating in our lives. However, we can self-mediate to recognize His presence.
The mediation of Christ occurs in the sacraments, in particular, the Eucharist. Here grace is communicated because of two factors, the grace in the sacraments and our desire to receive the Eucharist.
In the Eucharist we become part of a larger body, our community in Christ, each of us refilled with grace in receipt of transformed bread and wine, into the living, active Christ received within us. Our desire to receive fuses us with God within us, and amongst us in a way where there are no gaps, only grace and the incarnate nature of God lies within us waiting for us to spread it around the world.
We can be assured of this enternal presense always, all we need is the desire to be present to Him; as He is to us.
Image Copyright Daily Telegraph (UK)