Monday, May 14, 2012

Blog 245 Transformed

Blog 245  Transformed

In composing this blog  my  presumption is
those who are reading it are fellow believers with me in the teachings of the Bible and the Catholic Church, but anyone else who might wish to join us is welcome aboard . My intention  in writing is to share some insights with regard to the nature of  'salvation' in our Roman Catholic  theology.  I regard the content and focus of the blog as supremely important in our relationship with God through Jesus.  My concern is that  many
'good Catholics' who attend Mass  regularly and lead good moral lives may not be consciously aware of it as it is designed to be,  on a practical level that relates to their day by day experience of life,  at home, work, school, or wherever they may be, in sin and in avoiding sin,  morning  noon or night. It relates to the answer we Catholics should be prepared to give when some of our Baptist friends might sincerely ask us "Are you saved?"  It defines our permanent identity as Baptized Christians. 

To help me appreciate more fully the rich meaning and effects of being 'saved', I went back to the very first book of the Bible to find God identified as the Creator of all that exists.  All that God created reflected in some way the power wisdom and goodness of God.  God saw that all of creation was good, not taken here as moral goodness but rather goodness in the sense of value or perfection.   Men and women were created with a special goodness,  in the 'image' and 'likeness' of the Creator, capable of knowing God and responding to God in a personal relationship of love.

I used to wonder what would be the background and full meaning of the statement of Jesus  that told us if we loved Him we would keep His commandments just as He loved the Father and kept the Father's  commandments.  With God identified with love I knew that whatever we said of God was associated in some way with love and whatever we knew of genuine love  could in some way be related to God.  In reflecting upon the nature of love I found certain characteristics or qualities  that are present in all true love.  Love desires us to be close to the one we love.  We send letters and photos and email to one another because in this way we remain close to one another even from a distance.  We desire one another to be happy and well,  We pray for one another.  We share recipes and gifts with one another because love desires to be close to the one we love.  All the ways we know of being close to one another as expressed in the gift of time, interest, physical gifs and prayer are all ways of sharing ourselves.

God, in giving us commandments, is giving us a share in His wisdom and in this way is giving us what is good for us, what will make us happy and lovable not only to ourselves but to those around  us.  Honesty, chastity,  respect, violence all come into play in our observance of the commandments and in the process of  God's love for us.  To see and receive God's love for us in the gift of water, the sun, and the physical world around  us is to be aware of God's love for us in these gifts.  But these are also gifts to other forms of life lower than ours.  To receive God's love in our conscious and free sharing in God's wisdom through obedience to the commandments is a special gift to us as men and women.  God comes close to us in the gift of sunshine and water but close in a deeper way through obedience to the commandments  experienced as a personal  reception of  the gift of God's divine wisdom.

The whole picture of creation and ourselves if it is viewed  raw, as it were, without faith, changes  when we view it, taught by faith in the light of God's love.  When sin enters the picture the plan of God is denied or distorted.   God is placed at a distance.  Though present, God is no longer as close  to those who deny or disobey Him as love desires.   God's response to sin was not to abandon creation, destroy it and build another one but rather to come to earth so closely He would be one of us to take away sin by destroying it in his own divine eternal love in Jesus.  It would be like light and darkness.  Where does the darkness go when the light comes on?  I do not know. It is a mystery. All I know is that it is taken away.  The darkness of sin cannot exist in the light that is God's love for us in Jesus.

If God merely wanted us to have a sign from Him that all I have written here so far was real, namely God's  love given, God's love  rejected, and God's love restored in forgiveness,  it would have been likely we would have been given an experience similar to what we have now in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, a sign that God's love for the sinner is real and effective in taking away our sin.  We would have been back in God's friendship.  But " where sin abounded love abounded more", and God went further in His love.  God came closer to us than ever he was to Adam and Eve or  to anyone living today who can be correctly identified as a good man or woman, in love with God, but not transformed by the grace of Baptism into a new creation, beyond mere human sinlessness,  united with Jesus  as Jesus is united with the Father so closely that  through positive evidence God loves us and sees in us what He loves and sees in Jesus.  In Jesus through  faith and Baptism we indeed have been born from above and given a new life  lived in the same physical body that was merely that of a man and a woman but is now  transformed into a branch on the vine Jesus, and a member of the Body of Jesus,  the Church.

Here are a few Bible texts that authorize what I have been trying to share with you regarding our rebirth through Baptism and the reality of our new life in Christ. For  some other similar texts, you might want to  refer to blog # 240 The Whole Story - a matter of  Life and death.   Rom 6: 4  Through Baptism  into His death we have been buried with Him so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so too we might have a new life  Gal 2: 20   ...and the life I live now is not my own;  Christ is living in me.   Jn 3: 3  I solemnly assure you, no one can see the reign of
God unless he is begotten from above.  Jn 1: 11f  Any who did accept Him  He empowerred to become children of God.  These are they who believe in His name, who were God.  Jn 15: 23  Live on in me as I do in yoiu.

What about the frog and the tadpoles?  I wanted to use them as an illustration of one of  the wonderful transformations God  performs  in nature,  so that, impressed by it we might never doubt His desire and power to transform us into our identity as sharers of God's life and members of the Body of Christ,   loved by the Father as His children in Jesus .  There are many such wonders and mysteries in nature that tell those who believe in God of His wonderful power on earth and His eternal love for those transformed into Jesus .  This is some of what it means for us in our Catholic theology when we speak of salvation.  Accepting Jesus as our personal Savior is a beginning but it does not stop there nor even begin there for the individual Baptized person.  It begins with the plan of creation itself , then continues on through the life death and resurrection of Jesus,  to us and in us to the eternal life we share now by faith and  by experience in Heaven. .


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