Friday, August 23, 2013

Blog # 310 Resurrection in union with Jesus

Blog # 310 Resurrection in union with Jesus

The subject matter we have been treating in recent blogs is very important in helping us understand and carry out the task we have been called by Pope Benedict XVI to achieve in this Year of Faith. We are being called to a personal uniquely individual and community-wide Catholic revitalization of 1. our faith in God and our love for God through Jesus, and 2. in our love for one another in that faith.

When a lawyer, thinking most likely in terms of the ten given through Moses in Exodus 20: 1 - 17 asked Jesus "Which commandment of the law is the greatest?" Jesus replied: "'You shall love the Lord your God with your whole heart, with you whole soul, and with all your mind.' This is the greatest and the first commandment. The second is like it: 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as well".(Mat 22: 36 - 40).

That reply of Jesus to the lawyer easily reminds us of that other occasion when celebrating the Passover with the Apostles Jesus said there is no greater love than this: to lay down one's life for a friend."

From Cain and Abel,the sons of Adam and Eve,(Gen 4: 1-4),all the way down through history to Calvary,people recognized the power of sacrifice as expressing total love for their God. This was true even of those who professed faith in many gods before God's revelation to Abraham there is but one God, the single Creator of all that exists.

We have evidence in the Bible of God condemning sacrifices being offered insincerely without the accompanying total love that sincere sacrifice expesses. The notion of sacrifice as worship was never condemned. It was rather the insincerity of those who abused it that was condemned.

The act of sacrifice is defined as an offering to God alone, by an official repesentative of the people, of some material thing, with the change or destruction of what is offered in order to recognize God's supreme dominion and our complete dependence upon God. That definition applies to the freely chosen death of Jesus on Calvary, the experince of Jesus with the Apostles at the Last Supper, and the experience of Jesus and those believing baptized Christians who with Him offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass day by day.

The unconditional trust and total love Jesus offered the Father in His act of perfect worship on the Cross is the same unconditional trust and total love He offered at the Last Supper and offers in the worship of the Mass.
In all three instances it was the gift of worship. The Father's response to Jesus was the gift of RESURRECTION.

Yesterday, August 20, we celebrated the feast of St.Bernard , Abbot, who lived back in the twelfth Century. I told the people offering Mass that morning with me I thought the short passage read as the Gospel for Mass that day was among the topmost in importance in the entire Bible. This was because I saw in it the power that causes OUR resurrection from the dead in union with that of Jesus. It was from the Gospel of St. John 17: 20 - 26. In union with Jesus in His gift of Worship we remain in union with Him in His resurection.

As part of the long discourse Jesus makes on the occasion of the Last Supper John has Jesus pray this way.(17:1). Father, the hour has come! Give glory to your Son that your Son may give glory to you, inasmuch as you have given him authority over all mankind that he may bestow etrnal life on those you have given him...I pray for all those who will believe in me through their word that they be one, as you, Father are in me and I am in you;...that they may be one, as we are one, I living in them, you living in me-that their unity may be complete. So shall the world know that you sent me, and that you loved them as you loved me.

In our Catholic theology we believe that unity for which Jesus prayed is given, through faith, in the Sacrament of Baptism. That gift, the gift of Sanctifying Grace, is designed and desired by God to be kept and developed all the way up to the instant of our death when it is transformed into the experience of eternal life.

Friday, August 16, 2013

Blog # 309 Life in Jesus

Blog #309 Life in Jesus

There are many types of evil we can think of that we can experience in the course of our lifetime, whether that evil be the temporary pain of a sprained shoulder, arthritis, pneumonia, cancer, the 'loss' of a loved one in death, blindness, loneliness, depression, mass murders, active volcanoes, hurricanes, tornadoes, war injuries, an auto accident while driving home from work, or, ultimately for us all, death.

There are many types of responses people make to the evil we experience including fear, shame, anger, medicine, surgery and drugs of one sort or another, seeking counsel, prayer, pain relievers a humble acceptance of the will of God on the part of some, and loss of faith in God on the part of others.

I am proposing a SINGLE RESPONSE to all that is evil and have labeled that response the CHRISTIAN RESPONSE.

The Eternal Word of God, incarnate, and called Jesus, was sent among us precisely to be a uniquely authentic witness to God's presence on earth in Him, and in his entire life, death, and resurrection, to give testimony with regard to the identity and purpose of all creation including what is commonly referred to as evil. The Word of God, as Jesus, was sent not merely to speak of the meaning and value of suffering and death, but to live it out in his entire life's experience and especially in his suffering and death on Calvary.

A key question is whether there was something going on on that afternoon when Jesus died on the Cross that could not be seen by our eyes but was just as real as the blood being shed and the death that was occurring. What could not be seen was the truth to which that blood poured out bore witness.

Jesus had said quite clearly about love there was none greater than for a person to lay down his or her life for a friend.(Jn 15: 13). When Jesus gave no answer to Pilate's question where did Jesus come from, Pilate was angered and said: " Do you not know that I have the power to release you and the power to crucify you?" Jesus answered: "You would have no power over me whatever unless it were given you from above." Jesus was going to die because it was the Father's will, not that of Pilate!

Then as part of the long discourse on the occasion of the Last Supper John has Jesus give this testimony about His death: "the Prince of this world is at hand. He has no hold on me, but the world must know that I love the Father and do as the Father has commanded me. Come, then, Let us be on our way." And He led the Apostles to Gethsemane where the conclusion of His prayer was "Thy will be done". The whole episode of the death of Jesus was programmed by the Father and carried out in the perfect obedient love of Jesus. It was to be a free act composed of unconditional trust and total love. Only God deserved such trust and such love. Calvary can be identified as an act of WORSHIP on the part of Jesus!

On Calvary that gift of worship belonged to Jesus alone. It was His gift to the Father. At the Last Supper that SAME LOVE was shared with the Apostles in a different mode. This was something like the monetary value of a single dollar bill and four quarters as the same but in a different mode. That same love of Calvary and the Last Supper, after the Resurrection has been shared with all who are made one with Jesus by faith and Baptism down through the ages throughout the world in the WORSHIP identified in the mode of the Sacrifice of the Mass.

To understand and justify that statement we must keep in mind our Catholic theology concerning the gift of Baptism and Sanctifying Grace. Through faith and Baptism we are recreated as it were in union with the Resurrected Jesus as branches on a vine and members of a living body, the Church. We are called and equipped to share the love of Jesus in such a way that as Jesus said to Philip:” Philip, if you see me you see the Father. The Father and I are one." "If you see me, Fred, Jack, Mary, Florence, Pedro, Francois, all who are united in Jesus through faith and Baptism in the gift of Sanctifying Grace, you see Jesus, walking, talking, praying, worshiping, through, with, and IN JESUS!

Because the ground we are covering in recent blogs may be 'new ground' for many faithful Catholics who were instructed and trained to 'go' to Mass rather than to offer the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass each Sunday, I'll end this blog here and hopefully continue with a few more helpful Catholic theological insights tomorrow. The Lord be with you, and by faith within you!