Blog # 308 Practical Applications
This is the sixth in the series of blogs I have been writing in response to a desire I have to share what I consider a solution to the 'problem' of evil by denying that it is a problem! I thought it would take three blogs to do that but here we are in the sixth of the series! Terrible evils certainly do exist on all levels of our human experience, the physical, psychological, spiritual, personal, national, and 'creature wide', a term I have coined that we might use in reference to the mere fact all of us, every one of the seven billion of us here on earth today will eventually die and be gone.
What resource do we have available to us in formulating our response to that and to all the other pain suffering and evil that comes upon us in the course of our lifetime here on earth? My response to all that normally is identifid as evil is to deny that anything that exists is absolutely evil and a claim that anything that actually exists can and should be transformed into love. The next question is how to arrive at such a claim. The first step for me was to accept the claim of Genesis 1:31 "God looked at everything he had made, and he found it very good." Next I accepted the Biblical revelation of a single Creator of all that exists with no exceptions. "In the beginning,God created the heavens and the earth...( the whole of Genesis, Chapter One). A logical consequence of this is my claim that God owns everything that exists; it all belongs to God. God sees all that exists as worthy of His love, worthy to share in some way His love at least minimally merely by existing.
A clarification of the meaning of EXIST taken as a transitive verb is most important at this point in our discussion. Normally in the dictionary and in English grammar, the verb exist is an intransitive verb, that is a verb that does and cannot take an object, such as to sleep,and to exist. In the unique case, however, of God's action in willing creation to exist, it is used in this unique application as a transitive verb meaning to will something from non-existence into existence. As such it cannot be conceived in any tense but the present, and whenever exist is used as meaning to exist something it has to refer to the present tense. In other words God as Creator in this coined sense of the word is always and everywhere ,currently, by God's wisdom power goodness and presence, 'existing' whatever exists. God existed the death of Jesus. God will exist the death of each and all of us.
To understand completely what I have just written would be to understand completely the identity of God as Creator, and creation as existing from nothing, which is beyond our limited human capacity. 'Nothing' is not a concept we can imagine, and this is what limits our ability to understand God's identity as the single Creator of all that exists from nothing. For us,'nothing' means not this, not that, not rubber, not stone, in an unlimited array of possibilities until we arrive at nothing which is beyond us. We can understand in a limited way what it means for us to have said what we have said above and be convinced God owns everything that exists and it all belongs to God.
We can wonder about pain suffering and death, all of which exist, and ask questions of God as to the meaning and purpose of it all and what our response should be. We cannot logically ask a stone such questions because a stone cannot experience pain suffering or death. Is it not the same with God?
Yes and no. God came to our assistance in the unfathomable mystery of the Incarnation of the Word of God born of Mary in history, and called Jesus. In the life death and resurrection of Jesus we have an authentic witness and testimony about the meaning and purpose of all that exists, including pain suffering and death.
The Bible does not tell us much about Jesus ever suffering the ordinary colds sore muscles fatigue and injuries a carpenter might ordinarily be expected to experience in his work other than Jesus being given as like us in all but sin. When it comes to the death of Jesus, however, many significant details are given. First of all it is made clear His death was not something that was out of His control. Several times attempts to kill Him by stoning or casting Him over a cliff ended with Jesus walking away from an angry crowd unharmed. As for us and our death, the death of Jesus would be the climax, the most important experience of His whole life on earth.
Two very familiar brief Scripture texts throw light upon the meanng and purpose both of the crucifixion of Jesus and our death, united with Jesus in the gift of Baptism and Sanctifying Grace, no matter what the circumstances surrounding our death may be. First, when speaking of love Jesus tells us there is no greater love than this than to lay down one's life for a friend. Then toward the conclusion of the Last Supper the night before He died, before leading the Apostles to the garden of Gethsemane and the beginning of His Passion and death Jesus said of the identity of His death: "That the world may know that I love the Father, let us be on our way." Though it will seem to be shame and failure for those who do not know, His death tomorrow will be His greatest love, His eternal glory.
Then in His prayer in the garden Jesus expresses His preference that He would rather die in some other way than by the sinful actions of those who would condemn Him, torture Him, and rejoice at what they thought was the end of Him if that could be the Father's will for Him. He ended His prayer with a summary of His entire life on earth "Thy will be done!" This clarifies for us the important distinction between seeing Calvary as an act of loving obedience and what it was and our deaths should be, in Him, as an act of obedient love, our greatest love, our total love, a love that only God deserves.
There is more to come so hopefully we can have another blog tomorrow. The Lord be with you!