Wednesday, March 2, 2011
Blog # 127 Transformed 3
Blog # 127 Transformed 3 The notion of being identified in a 'second birth' or being 'born from above' is fundamental to all other specifically Christian elements in our relationship with God, others, and the world around us. Since this is so, I thought it would be helpful to arrange some of the texts from the Bible that guide us to a better understanding of the nature of this gift, to a greater appreciation of it, and a more effective use of it. The term Sanctifying Grace is a theological term used with reference to the notion of 'life" in St. John's Gospel. In John 3:3 Jesus tells Nicodemus "I solemnly assure you, no one can see the reign of God unless he is begotten from above." 'See' in this case refers to the notion of know or experience. In John 10:10 Jesus the Good Shepherd declares I came that my sheep may have life. John 20:30 gives the purpose John had in writing his Gospel as helping his readers believe Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, so that through this faith they may have life in His name. In Jn 6:35 Jesus identified Himself as "the bread of life". The following quote has special force for me in that the first man I Baptized after my ordination back in 1954 was preparing to die in the electric chair of the Georgia State Prison. It is from John 6: 47 ff. "...he who believes in me has eternal life... if you do not eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you." At the time I was sharing this text with that man he had not yet been Baptized nor had he received his first and only Holy Communion. According to that text from John 6 the man standing before me should have been dead, " have no life in him". yet he was about six foot two , much stronger and very much as alive as I was. The life to which Jesus was referring had to be a life other than our normal natural human life. A prime effect of the gift of Sanctifying Grace is to have God personally dwelling within us. The gift itself is sometimes referred to as the Divine Indwelling."You must know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is within - the Spirit you have received from God."(1 Cor 6: 19). "Live on in me as I do in you." (John 15:4). Another prime effect of our reception of new life through faith and Baptism is that we become children of God, and are united with Jesus as branches on a vine, sharing the life of the vine. 1 John: 3: 1: See what love the Father has bestowed on us in letting us be called children of God! Yet that is what we are. The Spirit himself gives witness to our spirit that we are children of God." Also John 1:11f. " I am the vine, you are the branches. he who lives in me and I in him will produce abundantly." (John 15:5). Sacraments play a distinctive essential role in our Catholic experience of being transformed by salvation. By definition a Sacrament is an outward sign instituted by Christ to give grace. As outward signs they are physical realities and can be seen heard touched or tasted. As signs, that to which they point or signify are spiritual realities which can be received only by faith and therefore in freedom. Colors shapes tastes sounds and atheists are blessed by God's love by the fact they exist but they cannot receive the gift of Sacramental Grace simply because, lacking and unaware as they are of a personal relationship with God they are not capable of sharing God's personal love. Fittingly by the design of God the supernatural life of Sanctifying Grace is experienced through Sacraments almost as a mirror image of the various significant stages and events of our natural human life, the beginning, Baptism, maturity, Confirmation, nourishment, the Eucharist, forgiveness, reconciliation, worship, priesthood, family, matrimony, and death, the Sacrament of the Sick. In these three short blogs we have touched briefly on what might be considered a key element of our Catholic insight into the nature and and definition of the gift of salvation Jesus brought from Heaven. It is very sad for me to realize in this age of instant communication throughout the world more people than not have still to embrace it as a way of life for the glory of God and peace and happiness on earth.