My peers and I had a discussion on the subjective and objective views of revelation, and much was brought up, but I wanted to see if perhaps there was a more formal way of contrasting the two.

I wish I could have sat in on your discussion. I might then be able to respond to your question more clearly. Revelation is not so much a set of propositions or a list of facts as it is God’s self-disclosure of love for us and God’s invitation to us to enter into a relationship of love with God. This is an invitation that is offered to the whole world, but needs to be received concretely by individual persons. It often passes from person to person as a flame passes from candle to candle. Christians believe that receive this revelation as inviduals but that it is nurtured, supported and preserved within the context of a community of believers.

There are a variety of ways in which we might encounter God’s self-revelation. One is through space. Saints like Francis of Assisi have found in nature’s beauty a way of encountering God. Cardinal Newman once described the world as a “mirror” of God.TIME magazine recently featured a story of scientist’s attempts to discover how the universe began, and answer the question of where it is going.

Another is through time. One of the great insights of the Bible is that human beings can encounter God’s revelation through their history. Revelation leads us to see past, present and future not as a series of random events but as a God-touched panorama of meaning and promise.

A third way of encountering God’s revelation is through people. Human beings are social and the societies they form indicate both a yearning for justice and peace and the difficulty of achieving them. We sense something deeply important that is missing when societies are unfair or

Finally, we encounter God’s revelation through the self. Our feelings, our dreams and our fears all point to a sense of meaning and self-worth that we desire, a connection we desire that our human relationships cannot fulfill completely.

How do we deepen our understanding of God’s revelation? In this there’s always a balance of personal and communal. Personal dimensions include our own prayer,our loving human relationships and what we discover in the stirrings of our own heart. As Christians we also lead and listen to the Scriptures, the teachings of the Church, and we participate in the Sacraments which enable us to encounter God’s mysterious but loving presence through ritual and symbol. We can test our own encounters with God by relating them to the wider encounters of the faith community by meeting with a confessor, spiritual director, Bible study group or small community of faith. We discover in the life, actions, death and resurrection of Jesus all that we need to know to enter into a life-giving relationship with life’s ultimate reality.

Some final words. We “receive” revelation but don’t truly “possess” it. God is a mystery,a mystery with love at its center. “Possession” is never a part of a true love relationship,”gift” is. If we’re tempted to gloat that we “have” the truth and others don’t, we’re missing the point.

Revelation is finally and most deeply about God’s promise to the world, a promise rooted in love. The ultimate test of whether we have “received” God’s revelation is whether we respond to the world and its people with love, and look toward the future with hope.

I hope this helps with your reflections on these questions!

God bless you,
Fr. Joe