Photo Credit: Sébastien Bourdon [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
I AM THAT I AM is the Name of the God of Israel. The Catholic Church is the new Israel that adores the Divine Name, God’s Being.
By Patrick Tchakounte
11 October 2017
At the center of human existence, is a question that has occupied the minds of human beings for millennia. The matter of God, of His existence, of His being, and of His attributes has received different comprehensions in relation to the various cultures and civilizations throughout history. Religion, a system of belief, ritual, and cult codifying human thought and action has been the heart of human societies and has provided the foundation of the manifold achievements of civilization. Animism, pantheism, polytheism, monotheism: religion has taken on multiple forms throughout the ages of humanity and the early pages of recorded history recount the attempts by the human communities to establish a rapport with the divine and with the sacred.
The Book of Genesis visibly reveals that monotheism is the oldest system of religious cult. From the beginning, man offered sacrifice to the One God, to Whom he owes adoration and on Whom he depends in his natural existence and in his spiritual life. The story of the human person’s relation to the Divinity is one of tragedy, misfortune, and loss. The creature was created in a state of original happiness and of friendship with the divine. However, in a test of obedience and freedom, the human being fell from grace resulting in damnation, shame, and perdition. Throughout the centuries, God sought to redeem His favored creation and attempted through Paternal means, to educate him in the path of righteousness, and sanctity.
The history of the Hebrew peoples testifies to divine intervention and to the predilection of God for the being created in His image and at His resemblance. The journey towards the Redemption of the human species was realized through a bond of covenant established with the first patriarchs of the human peoples, a promise of divine fidelity and benediction provided that humans are faithful to the statutes and the laws of God. The Revelation of the Godhead became visible in a particular theophany that decided the emergence of the religion of Israel, of Judaism. On Mount Horeb, God revealed His Name to the greatest prophet and leader of Israel, to Moses, demonstrating His Presence in a bush that was burning without its being consumed by the flames of the Fire: I AM THAT I AM, transcribed as the Tetragrammaton YHWH, transliterated as Yahweh.
The Revelation of the Divine Name marks a turning point in the history of humanity. God reveals in the burning bush, the reality and the Eternity of His Being. He becomes accessible to the human sight and the presence of His Name is salvation at a time when His people, Israel, is held captive under the bondage of slavery in Egypt. The Jewish religion is thus the cult of the Divine Name transmitted through Moses to the Hebrews and is the bearer of the Redemption of the human being, and of the world. A series of ten chastisements realized through the prophetic office and the miraculous power granted to Moses finally set the Israelites from Egyptian captivity. Human pride seizes Pharaoh and he follows the Hebrews as they pass on dry soil between the parted waters of the Red Sea, ending in the disastrous rout of the Egyptian army.
Israel is the Chosen People of God, elected according to the purpose of the Divinity Who works out Its designs in mystery, guides the actions of men, and judges the destinies of cultures. In the Divine Name, the religion of Israel recognizes the true God, YHWH, among the nations in the practice of polytheism, animism, and pantheism. The philosophical contribution of the Jewish people to the life of humanity is the comprehension of God’s Being in Its Perfection, Its Eternity, Its Immensity, Its Transcendence; I AM THAT I AM reveals the mystery of a Being Who is beyond all categories of knowing, the God of the philosophers that transcends all knowledge, and Who is the Fount of all Wisdom, in the reality that ultimately God is the Creator of the universe on Whom it depends for its being. For the philosopher, being is a metaphysical notion, a comprehension that is intellectual in an attempt at grasping the truth of reality; in fact, being is the Divine Being of Whom all Creation participates and Who moves finite being as the First Cause that directs it towards the Eternal Kingdom, that Day of Light on which the Church is assembled around God and the Lamb for the adoration of the Trinity. Christianity inherits from Judaism the conception of God’s mystery and utter otherness, an awesomeness that reveals the fact that God’s Being is Perfect Beauty, a Divine Sun that kisses the forehead of man with the blessing of Love, and the promise of Reason, the Word, the Logos, who is the Perfecter of the Faith, and the Lord of the Catholic Church. Being is the reality of the Divine Nature that imparts supernatural grace to the Catholic Church and communes with the faithful in the myocardial fusion of the Eucharist.
In the Divine Name, religion finds its source, its center, its summit; in truth, its certain end in the adoration that consecrates meaning and purpose into human life. It is the certitude that YHWH is a God who is Omnipotent, Omniscient, and Omnipresent, arming thus, existence with the gratitude of the rational creature and the reverence of the spiritual child predestined to the beatitude of Heaven, in the company of the Virgin Mary, the Angels and of the Saints, for the greater glory of the Holy Trinity. It serves to testify to the theological reality of God, in the elevation of the human reason to the Name that is beyond every name, to the Being that transcends all philosophical category, that silences theological argument in the education of the perfect prayer – “Abba” – as the creature contemplates the Eternity of the Godhead, comes the comprehension of wisdom that finally unites to the Trinity, rendering the human person into an adopted filiation of the Father of Lights, who regulates every movement with Divine Exactness.
To meditate on the Being of God, on the Truth of the Divine Name, is the true philosophy, the prayer of rightly ordered theology, the science that is reconciled in wisdom, the act of religion that is homage to the Divinity; in fact, the man that attempts to comprehend the Transcendence of the Father, intimates the Beauty of the Eternal, who reigns above the clouds of Heaven on His Throne in the communion of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. In the final analysis, I AM THAT I AM is the revelation of the Divine Goodness, in YHWH, is affirmed the jubilant cry that: “God is Good and Wonderful.”
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