REFLECTION: Your resurrection

On Thursday evening, several of us attended the memorial Mass of the 97 year old mother of a friend of mine.  Ashanti shared about her mother’s life; she, who quietly passed into our Father’s loving arms while she slept.  What touched me the most was this elder’s faithfulness in praying her children back into the Christian faith.  Unfortunately, many of us parents walk in a similar path.  What joy to know that this one saw each of her 5 return to our Lord while she walked on planet Earth.

Having flown back from Agassiz to celebrate this special Mass, Fr. Jack Dias began his homily with, “Both life and death are gifts from God.  Both gifts are free so we can glorify God.”  I believe we can all readily agree that the earthly life which begins with the birth of a child is truly a gift, but death, a gift as well?  Fr. continued, “Without the gift of death, we cannot get into Heaven.  Death becomes a door to Heaven.”

Hold on, does this door to Heaven open for all?  Had Adam and Eve trusted God, ALL would enter Heaven.  However, free will, which God had bestowed on man, gave and still gives man the liberty to make choices.  Sadly, the first man and woman chose to disobey God.  Because of this Fall, the original innocence and purity God created in man became tainted by sin.  From then on, concupiscence (the innate tendency of humans to long for fleshly appetites) tainted the nature of man and unfortunately, many continue to fall.

The created turns against its Creator.  Science fiction?  Not in this case.  Have you felt the desire to over-indulge in food, alcohol, sex or bully another?  Has money controlled your desires and actions, minimizing your willingness to reach out to help another?  Whether you realize it or not, these are actual temptations which the devil, our adversary, plants into our minds.  Having been thrown down from Heaven himself because of his own rejection of God, the devil does whatever He can to destroy man and to keep him from returning to God.  Whatever harm we do to ourselves or another is turning against God.  Why?  Because He created us. His desire is for us to know Him and for His children to live full, happy lives.   Regardless of seeing many backs turned His way, God continues to seek man.

Jesus said, “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me, though he die, yet shall live, and whoever lives and believes in me shall never die.”  John 10:25-26  That’s a bit heavy, isn’t it?  Perhaps we should start from the beginning.

Let’s begin at the Garden of Eden.  “ … The Lord God took the man and put him into the Garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.  The Lord God commanded the man, saying, “From any tree of the garden you may eat freely; but from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat from it you will surely die.” Genesis 2:15-17  Notice how the word “die” comes into the picture?  Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him.” Genesis 2:18  And woman becomes a member of planet earth.

“Now the serpent was more crafty than any beast of the field  which the Lord God had made. And he said to the woman, “Indeed, has God said, ‘You shall not eat from any tree of the garden’?” The woman said to the serpent, “From the fruit of the trees of the garden we may eat;  but from the fruit of the tree which is in the middle of the garden, God has said, ‘You shall not eat from it or touch it, or you will die.’” The serpent said to the woman, “You surely will not die!  For God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.” When the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was desirable to make one wise, she took from its fruit and ate; and she gave also to her husband with her, and he ate. Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loin coverings.  Genesis 3:1-7

Did you notice how the devil, taking the form of a serpent, twisted the truth?  He is very good at that.  In fact, one of his titles is the Father of Lies.  Do you see how he lured Eve into believing that she would be like God?  Would you believe that was the very same thing that caused him to fall?

The eyes of Adam and Eve were definitely opened, and what did they see?  They realized they were naked!  That didn’t matter before, but having their eyes opened, their nakedness became an issue.

Was God mad?  I’m sure He was, but He didn’t exhibit it.  In today’s lingo, God was COOL.  He came, strolling along in the cool of the morning calling out for Adam and Eve because they were nowhere to be seen.

Then the Lord God called to the man, and said to him, “Where are you?”  He said, “I heard the sound of You in the garden, and I was afraid because I was naked; so I hid myself.” And He said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree of which I commanded you not to eat?” The man said, “The woman whom You gave to be with me, she gave me from the tree, and I ate.”  Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?” And the woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:9-13

Did you notice how quickly Adam put the blame on the woman?  Did you notice how he also put the blame on God by addressing the woman as “The woman YOU gave to be with me”?  As to the woman, she quickly put the blame on the serpent!  Sound familiar?  We continue to do the same, don’t we?

As with every choice made, we face the blessing or the consequence that goes along with it.  To the serpent, God said… And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her seed; He shall bruise you on the head, and you shall bruise him on the heel.” Genesis 3:15  THIS was God’s fore shadowing promise that He would one day provide a way for man to return back to the loving union he once shared with God through One that would be born of woman.

Jesus said, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  God had sent not an angel, but His Son, Jesus, down from Heaven to do His will.  Jesus was not transported down to earth as an adult, but He was conceived by the Holy Spirit and was born to a virgin mother, Mary.

What did Jesus do?  “For the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” Luke 19:10  Lost?  Yes, all who have turned away from the Father.  He didn’t set up an office and wait for people to come.  Instead, He walked around and talked with the people, mingling with the broken, the lonely, the forgotten, the rejected, the unwelcomed… anyone and all who needed the touch of God’s love.   He taught, at times by parables, but more often than not, He taught by how He lived, through His loving actions.  He healed… the sick, the lepers, the lame, the blind, the demon possessed.  He raised the dead and with 2 fish and 5 loaves of barley bread, he fed the multitudes (5000 men) with 12 baskets of left over remaining.

More than anything, Jesus gently healed the spiritual brokenness of those who sought Him…
“Teacher,” they (the Pharisees and religious teachers) said to Jesus, “this woman was caught in the act of adultery.  The law of Moses says to stone her. What do you say?” … Jesus stooped down and wrote in the dust with his finger.  They kept demanding an answer, so he stood up again and said, “All right, but let the one who has never sinned throw the first stone!”  Then he stooped down again and wrote in the dust. …Then Jesus stood up again and said to the woman, “Where are your accusers? Didn’t even one of them condemn you?”   “No, Lord,” she said.  And Jesus said, “Neither do I. Go and sin no more.” John 8:4-11  Unlike the Pharisees , Jesus doesn’t create a scene nor does He nag nor berate.  He simply forgives and sends her off, encouraging her to sin no more.

Jesus did not limit His ministry to His kind (Jews),   In the heat of noon, as he rested by a well in the midst of His travels, Jesus meets a Samaritan woman.  To her surprise, He speaks to her, overlooking the set traditions that Jews do not associate with Samaritans, let alone a woman on her own.  He offers her “living water” and bids her to call her husband.  The woman replies, “I have no husband.” Jesus said to her, “You have correctly said, ‘I have no husband’; for you have had five husbands, and the one whom you now have is not your husband; this you have said truly.” John 4:17-18

Did you notice what transpired here?  Because He is God, Jesus knew every detail of the woman’s background, and yet, He does not accuse her of anything.  When He asks her to call her husband, she replies with the truth.  He then reveals what He knows of her and she responds, “I know that Messiah is coming (He who is called Christ); when that One comes, He will declare all things to us.”  Jesus said to her, “I who speak to you am He.” John 4: 25-26

“From that city many of the Samaritans believed in Him because of the word of the woman who testified, “He told me all the things that I have done.” …Many more believed because of His word; and they were saying to the woman, “It is no longer because of what you said that we believe, for we have heard for ourselves and know that this One is indeed the Savior of the world.” John 4: 39-42

“For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me.”  John 6:35  During His 3 years of public life, Jesus fulfilled what the Father had sent Him to do.  He proclaimed  “I am the bread of life; he who comes to Me will not hunger, and he who believes in Me will never thirst. … “All that the Father gives Me will come to Me, and the one who comes to Me I will certainly not cast out.” John 6:35-40  He healed the sick, He raised the lame and brought sight to the blind, he resurrected the dead, and He brought spiritual healing.

There was still one crucial thing Jesus had to do.  When the appropriate time came, “He went away again a second time and prayed, saying, “My Father, if this cannot pass away unless I drink it, Your will be done.” Matthew 26:42 Jesus knew exactly what He had to do and He knew the excruciating toll it would take.   He knew He still needed to take on ALL the sins of the world… past, present and future, upon himself and to die a horrific death, so that death would be conquered once and for all.

Jesus died on the cross over 2000 years ago.  And on the 3rd day, the Holy Spirit raised Him up from the dead.   Jesus is ALIVE and well and he now sits at the right hand of the Father, interceding for all.

“For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” John 6:35-40

Do you believe?

God bless,

Melissa – August 7, 2014

p.s. – http://powertochange.com/discover/faith/godandloved/ <- FALLING PLATES

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