Jn 6:24

Amen, amen, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes in the one who sent me has eternal life and will not come to condemnation, but has passed from death to life. [1]

Three elements: Jesus, hearing his word, and believing in the Father.  While Jesus continually identifies Himself with the Father, [Jn 10:30; 14:8; 17:21] He always defers to the Father.  It is the Father in whom we must believe.  It is the Father whose words He speaks: I did not speak on my own, but the Father who sent me commanded me what to say and speak.[Jn 12:49]

And the promise is two-fold: A person who hears Jesus and believes (a) has eternal life and (b) avoids condemnation but passes directly from death to life, passing Go(d) and collecting eternal rewards.

Is this an example of the Hebraic poetic pension for repetition of the same thought in different words or is there something more here?  Even the Psalmic repetitions throw light on one another.

Eternal life is evidenced by coming, hearing and believing; these constitute eternal life.  These acts are the recognition and acceptance of repentance and salvation, the “be it done unto me according to Your word…not my will but Yours be done.” [Lk 1:38; 22:42]

Condemnation, on the other hand, is the result of recognition and rejection of repentance and salvation.  It is the result of a conscious, a “known with” full awareness, act of the will.  It is not an imposition of an external judgment, but the inevitable result of an internal decision.  We condemn, we act “with harm” against, ourselves.

By the conscious act of choosing to hear and believe, the condemnation which we had incurred through the choice, the willed act, of our first parents, and which we had continued to choose in each sin we committed, by rejecting those decisions, i.e. repenting, “being sorry again,” Jesus looks around and asks Has no one condemned you including yourself? Neither do I condemn you. Go, [and] from now on do not sin any more.” [Jn 8:10-11] We dodged the bullet, we were dead and now live; we have resurrected…mini-wise in anticipation of the general resurrection, we have passed from death to life.  Amen.  Alleluia!!!

[1] Scripture texts in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Washington, D.C. and are used by permission of the copyright owner. All Rights Reserved. No part of the New American Bible may be reproduced in any form without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

“a mighty rushing wind”

Moore, OK. 51 confirmed dead from the monster tornado. 20 children. 2 forms of “a mighty rushing wind.” The first: a blessing, one of the greatest blessings every bestowed on the Church. The second: a killer tornado spreading devastation and destruction more than one mile wide across this town. I pray for the victims, alive and dead, of that tornado. How does one align these two occurrences.

First, we have to discard the mindset of man and take on the mindset of God. Then we have to remember that, with God, everything happens in the present, not only living and dying, but judging, mercy and salvation. Then, we have to cling tightly to the fact that God loves us with an overwhelming, unconditional, eternal and divine love. And to the second fact that the only thing He wants for us is to achieve our greatest happiness…and that happiness is not in this life, is not in things, is not in houses, is not in living a long life on earth…indeed, we call this the “vale of tears.” It is being happy, eternally and completely happy with Him, Father, Son and Holy Spirit, with Mary and all the saints, with the Angels…all together in Heaven. However, normally we would not, of our own accord, except in desperation and dispair, seek to leave this life. And He did tell us that he would return when we least expected it and hopefully find us, his stewards, on duty.
It is within this context that deaths, be they from natural tragedies or man-inflicted, are seen by God, the Church Triumphant and Suffering, and the Angels. We in the Church Militant are the ones out of the loop. We tend to see simply absence and loss from our perspective instead of presence and gain from the perspective of the loved one. If we took on their vision, we would be very happy, indeed ecstatic for their blessing. They have not evaporated; they have not left us. They have been taken into new life, new joy, new happiness, eternal life, eternal joy, eternal happiness.
In a sense, death is the ultimate aid to active indifference. This may seem crass and completely insensitive but it is true. We do suffer loss, great loss, great pain as God gently but firmly pries our clinging grasp away, giving the freedom of His sons and daughters to the son or daughter now able, through the merits of the crucifixion of His Son, join Him in Heaven. This is an inescapable, inevitable, wondrous door through which we must all pass if we are to gain eternal life.

But we see only the crushed bodies, the mangled arms, the unrecognizable heads, not the freed spirits, who, while they await the resurrection of those bodies, are now with their Creator, their Redeemer, their Sanctifier. We weep, as the poet said, for ourselves, our loss, our separation, our wound of release. And that is, in God’s providence, also healing. Amen. Alleluia!!!

I want a refund

“O foolish ones, and slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken! Was it not necessary that the Christ should suffer these things and enter into his glory?” Lk 24:25-26

God’s ways are not our ways, nor are God’s thoughts our thoughts. Which of us, in designing a Christ, would have him “suffer these things and enter into his glory?” We’re right there with the Apostles: “Is it now that you are going to restore the kingdom of Israel?” None of this arrest, interrogation, whipping, bullying, condemnation, carrying of the cross, crucifixion and death….all extraneous to our concept, our vision, our plan. This is, perhaps, why we are the “foolish ones…slow of heart to believe all that the prophets have spoken.” Didn’t they mean what they said as hyperbole, exaggeration, visionary unrealities? You mean they really meant it…or if they didn’t know exactly what they wrote, the Spirit really meant it, foresaw it, and the Trinity preplanned it from all eternity. It’s that latter, that “preplanned from all eternity” that catches you off guard, brings you up short, makes you wonder… what kind of a God is God? Where is the warm, gentle, fuzzy God I know and love? Where did this God come from? I didn’t bargain for this type of God! I demand a refund!

“I am who I am. I can be no other. You can picture me anyway you want…but I do not change. I am goodness, I am love. This Christ is goodness, this Christ is love. I want only your greatest happiness and that of the whole world, of every man, woman and child that ever lived, are living or will live. That is why Christ suffered these things…for you, and you, and you. He had no need of suffering for Himself, for Me…He did it for you…so that you would know the Way, the Truth and the Life. So that you would know that all I want, all I ever wanted, is your happiness. What I can’t seem to get you to understand is that your happiness is not achieved by doing what you want but in doing what I want you to do…in being the best, the holiest, the most wonderful person you can be with my help. That’s what the prophets were saying, that’s what I have been saying all along. Come, come, come. Follow my Son…and you will find eternal life, eternal happiness, you will find Me.” Amen. Alleluia!!!

The “Must”

The Son of Man must be delivered into the hands of sinful men and be crucified and on the third day rise. Lk 24:7 The critical “must.” From Heaven itself, we learn that it was a “must” that Jesus be arrested, tortured, die on the cross and rise. No way around it, over it, under it, only through it. That was the cup of Gethsemane. The “must.”

But why, why the “must.” God could have wiped away the debt due from sin with one nod, one wave. But with it would have gone all justice as well as mercy, all comfort as well as contrition, all trust as well as love. It would have been the act of a capricious child, not a omniscient Good God. Not a God who loves us as we are, mired in sin and death, who accepts the decisions of our vacillating wills, free as they terribly, ominously are. The most devastating bomb on earth is not made by human hands, it is free will…but at the same time, it is our most precious and sacred gift.

Many creatures have intellects, not as developed or lucid as ours, but intellects. I question whether we can call ourselves “rational animals” if we limit “rational” to simply knowing. No, only if it is tied inextricably to willing, doing, being rational, do we deserve that definition. Therefore, I submit that it is free will, that which indeed makes us most like God, which makes us most human. And it is free will which was surrendered to the “must.” God showed us in His Divine Son the way to Himself is by using that free will to choose “yours be done.”