Yesterday I was in a meeting of the Immigrant Justice Network of Grant and Luna Counties. We were discussing the legal status of undocumented immigrants, and someone used the word “apprehended” in reference to those who have been picked up by ICE or other immigration authorities and placed in custody. They were discovered and caught, their free movement was restricted severely, they were taken where they did not want to go, and charged with the crime of entering the country illegally. They were apprehended in a legal sense. Whereas I believe that the vast majority of undocumented immigrants need not be treated in this way, there are some (about 3% of that population, 6% of the US population as a whole) who need to be legally apprehended for the sake of the common good. Nonetheless, I don’t want to be the object of this kind of apprehension.

I preached last Sunday that Truth (in contrast to merely true statements) is approached, not controlled. In a similar vein, I like to say that God is not comprehended, but apprehended. We approach, we wonder and we are in awe, but we recognize that the fullness of God will never be something we understand. Some of the early Church Fathers described heaven as eternal in the sense that we will be forever plumbing the depths of the heart of God and never reaching bottom. I want to be the subject of this kind of apprehension.

One is protective while the other is expansive. One is coercive while one is seductive. One makes another the object while the other makes another the subject. Ultimately, one is about me and mine, and the other is about you and yours.

Martin Buber, the great Jewish philosopher of the last century described these two movements of the soul in relation to another in terms of the I-It relationship vs. the I-Thou relationship. 1 He says that in the I-It relationship everything and everyone are ultimately utilitarian. In the I-Thou relationship, on the other hand, we touch eternity. In all our apprehending, let us not fail to apprehend.

1 Buber, Martin. I and Thou, Trans. Kaufmann . Kindle Edition. Translation Copyright © 1970 Charles Scribner’s Sons Introduction Copyright © 1970 Walter Kaufmann


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