Many Saints say they see Jesus in the person they are helping. I am drawn to Mother Theresa of Calcutta saying “I see Jesus in every human being. I say to myself ‘this is hungry Jesus, feed Him…’” While I agree with that, I am struggling with that conflicting with teaching on mortal sin. If a soul has alienated itself from God, can God still be present as Mother Theresa says because she does not distinguish the state of the souls and dealt with non-Christians. So my question is “Can God be found in everyone, even sinners?”
Short answer: YES
Very short answer, LOL. But it didn’t help my understanding.
We are all made in the image and likeness of God. So in that way, we can see God in everyone.
However, not everyone is in a state of Grace. So the Holy Spirit may not be “indwelling” in that person, but we can still see God in them due to their image & likeness
Does this make a little more sense?
Who among us isn’t a sinner?
Galatians 6:10 is one of my favorites: “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all people, and especially to those who are of the household of the faith.”
So, St Paul gives voice to what others above have stated—all have dignity, all are in God’s image, and we are to do good to ALL. However, there may be some preference given here and there to those of the Church.
But, I would also add that an interesting ramification of St Thomas Aquinas’ five ways of knowing the existence of God is that God alone is ipsum esse subsistens (the sheer act of to be itself). Iow, existence is proper to God. His essence is to exist. However, existence is not proper to anything outside of God (only proper to Him). Everything single piece of creation (including all creatures) is held in existence every moment by the will and power of God. I, for example, only exist by what might be called an improper share in the divine existence (which, again, is ipsum esse subsitens). Existence isn’t proper to me. I’m not the creator of my own existence and I don’t sustain myself in existence. I don’t have to exist.
And yet I do, which entails that God desires me to be (to exist)! He’s right now holding me (and everything) in existence. So in that way, yes, very much God is in all things. Saints, sinners, fish, rocks, solar systems… It’s all here by an improper share in the Being whose very essence is to exist.
That’s an amazing entailment of the Five Ways. It’s comforting, incredible and sort of frightening if I’m honest.
He has to be, at least to sustain their existence. Otherwise, the sinners would cease to exist (and that is why God is present even in hell, if only to sustain the existence of the creatures there; but, as the old prayer says, he is terrible there. The creatures there cannot perceive his presence).
Then of course, there is the (mortal) sinner being made in the image of God. That gives that person an inherent dignity that comes from God himself, and as an image (icon) of God, the sinner still, in an imperfect way, still reflects God and glorifies God by his own existence as a human being.
What the (mortal) sinner does not have is the share in the divine life, i.e. the supernatural life of sanctifying grace. Without that, he is merely a natural creature, and he is unable to enter the Beatific Vision.
Yes, God can be found in everyone. But sometimes He hides exceedingly well.
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