Thursday, January 5, 2012

Blog # 218 The Joy of Salvation

Blog # 218 The joy of Salvation Dear Father Charlie, 12/10/00 I miss you and I am praying we will see each other again. I believe God places people in our lives for specific reasons. I believe He put you in my life to teach me about the true meaning of God's love for all things and all people. Ever since we first met, you have always expressed everything according to love, always reminding us that God is Love. Father Charlie, you are and always will be a blessing for me. I praise Jesus for you every day. Sometimes when I'm depressed or lonely my name will be called out at mail call and it's a wonderful letter filled with wisdom from you. Thank you for being there for me. I want to wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Blessed New Year! My Mother says they are snowed in at home in Chicago. I wish I were there! Well, eat enough Christmas dinner for all of us here and Merry Christmas. Love, Audrey. That is a copy of a note I received from one of the ladies in the prison over in Davisboro eleven years ago. When I was living in Sandersville I went out to the prison over in Davisboro for a two hour theology class every Friday and to offer Mass there on Wednesday evenings. After several years, when I became Pastor of our Glenmary mission in Sylvania I was no longer able to visit the prison but I mailed a four-page letter to those who requested it. The letter I copied for you expresses appreciation to me and the Lord for the graces the author of the letter received through our theology classes and our offering of Mass together. . But that is not the focus and the reason for my sending the copy of the letter to you. Rather my focus and reason is Audrey, the lady who sent me the letter. During Advent the litugical readings at Mass had been reaching out in hope and joyful anticipation toward the fulfillment of the promise made in Genesis the first Book of the Bible and then reaffirmed and called to mind down through many years of history by Abraham, Moses, Isaiah, Samuel, Zephaniah, and the Book of Psalms. Beautiful visions of peace and joy were set before us to be fulfilled when the Messiah, the Promised One, would come. Finally Gabriel revealed to Mary the time had come for the Messiah to be born. She would be his mother and he would be given the name Jesus, Savior. He grew up and became a man in the ordinary way any of us would do. Assuming the role of a Rabbi he began to speak of God as his father. He began to say and do things that only God was expected to do, such as healing the sick and raising the dead to life. He claimed to have been alive before Abraham came to be. Then he was falsely condemned and died on Calvary. From the Cross he told us his mission on earth as one of us was complete. "It is finished." Now, and down through 2,000 years of history we who believe find the divine and original mission of the Person of the Word of God continuing until the end of time in the Resurrected Person of Jesus. For those who stood at the foot of the Cross and thought Jesus was a fraud he received in death the punishment he deserved. For Jesus his death was a witness to the love that God deserved. For Mary his mother, the few disciples who stood by him to the end and to us who continue to listen to him and follow him in response to the Father's identification of Jesus as His Beloved Son at the time of His Baptism by John, Jesus continues on as the Risen Savior. the incarnate, eternal, infinite, Word of God-Among-Us, Emmanuel! For us who believe, his death, dated in human history, was a human act of unconditional trust and total love for the Father. As an infinite act of the single person we recognize in the Word of God Among Us called Jesus, the death of Jesus was the fulfillment hoped for since its promise was given to Adam and Eve, the promise of a new covenant, of sins forgiven, of the power to pray, to forgive and to love one another as we love ourselves, to love God above all, lasting peace and genuine joy, the accomplishment in Jesus of God's will for us all day, every day, until "it is finished" in the unconditional trust and total love of death. This is where Audrey comes in. What she received from the message we shared in prison was the message of salvation in Jesus, here and now wherever we may be. The peace and joy that comes from knowing and loving God is intentional on the part of Jesus. It is part of God's plan. "Taste and see the goodness of the Lord." My work in the prison was the work of an evangelist. It is the work of someone who personally believes in the divinity and message of Jesus, lives out that message in the joy and peace of obedience to the will of God, and retains and cultivates a desire to share that experience with others. My love for God was magnified by my sharing it with Audrey That is the way it should be in God's plan. Thank You Jesus for making all of this possible! Thank You for enabling us through faith and Baptism to be one with You as branches on a vine, sharing Your mission and message of Salvation, the sanctification of the world in ourselves and with those around us through our efforts and prayer in Your name.

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