We are the family of God. ‘I will be the God of all the families of Israel’. This is a good news and a task. God − his grace − wants to be present in our families. In other words, he wants to interact with ‘what and who we are in our week-days’. Our God-image is to be sought after in the community, in our relationship with others. God sanctifies us as ‘we’. The ‘I’ exist only if it is also a ‘we’ in the presence of God.
‘Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with loving kindness have I drawn thee. Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel.’ This reveals that our most beautiful capacity is love. God’s active love towards us confirms this most precious ‘ability’. ‘I will build thee’: it adds to this recognition a further important element. Rebirth in God is a life-time process; for both the individual and the local Christian community.
‘Behold, I will bring them forth the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth.’ Retruning to God, that is, letting him to gather us, is the core of Christian identity. This ‘letting’ results in growth and rebirth, and a genuine community.
In John’s Gospel, there is a hidden icon of the Father who ‘gathers us together.’ The raising of Lazarus, re-read after Easter, attains a special meaning. It shows us the Father at work, who ‘saves his people, the remnant of Israel’.
‘I am the resurrection, and the life…He groaned in the spirit, and was troubled, and said, Where have ye laid him?...Jesus wept.’ Jesus’ compassion for Lazarus becomes the icon of the Father’s compassion for us. Actually, even more, as it is a double-portrait. The way in which Jesus is moved by the loss of his friend also portrays the Father’s compassion for the dead Son on Good Friday. Let us listen to the Father’s inaudible voice, underlying Jesus’ voice. This inaudible voice governs the whole of salvation history.
Engaging with this hidden voice is the very source of all renewal and growth of faith and community life.
These are verbal Icons, expressions of how the world is seen from Saint Augustine's..