Blog # 311 Our union with Jesus
There have been several long gaps between blogs in my presentation of the claim I refer to as the CHRISTIAN RESPONSE to 'evil' in creation. I personally hold to the truth of the claim and present it in the name of authentic Catholic theology.The claim refers and can be applied to anything that exists,from sin to suffering, all the way to death itself.
Death, understood properly, as it is identified and presented in the Bible and in our Catholic theolgy is a blessing rather than, as it often seems to be seen, as a fearsome experience and a curse.In my claim, Christian death is identified as good,the greatest blessingfor which we could have hope, because it calls for our greatest love.
Because of the long gap in the blogs I have been presenting on the subject of 'evil' in creation I will give here a review that will lead into Blog #311.
Of primary and fundamenral importance in our discussion is our faith in a single Creator of all that exists. This means we claim for God a responsibility for ALL that exists and NOTHING THAT EXISTS is totaly evil. In the very first book of the Bible God looked at what He had created and saw that it was very good. Anything that exists, ORIGINATING IN GOD'S ETERNAL CREATIVE LOVE,MUST HAVE SOMETHING OF GOODNESS IN IT, IF NOTHING MORE THAN THE FACT IT EXISTS.
This 'anything' would include varying degrees of arthritic pain in our body, the loss of money through a slump in the New York Stock Exchange, the sickness, suffering,death of a loved friend or relative, and all the other 'evils' we could identify all the way up to death which considered in itself independently of any reference to faith,is the most serious evil we can experience or imagine because in contrast to all other 'evil' which on a personal level is partial, death is a TOTAL loss or destruction of all that is identifid as ours.
Applying this on a practical level to Jesus and ourseves we begin by identifying the act of obedience of Jesus to the Father's plan for Him that he die on Calvary. Jesus and his disciples went directly to Gethsemane from the last Supper. We find him in great anguish and praying to the Father: "My Father, if it is possible, let this cup pass me by. Still, let it be as you would have it." And a second time: "My Father, if this cannot pass me by without my drinking it, your will be done!"(MAT 26: 39,42). And in Mark 14:36: He kept saying,"Abba, (O Father), you have the power to do all things. Take this cup away from me. But let it be as you would have it, not as I."
The freely willed act of dying on Calvary on the part of Jesus the Incarnate Word of God, was a human-divine act of unconditional trust and total love. Addressed to the Father, it was an act of worship. The Father's response to this gift was the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. A new and eternal covenant between Jesus and the Father was initiated on Calvary on the day in history two thousand years ago when Jesus laid down his life in obedience to the Father's plan for him.
We begin to see more clearly the content of that covenant as well as the meaning and power of the prayer of Jesus at the last supper in John's Gospel (17:20-29):I pray for those who will believe in me through their word, that all may be one as you,Father, are in me, and I am in you...I have given them the glory you gave me 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. Father, all those you gave me I would have in my company where I am, to see this glory of mine which is your gift to me, because of the love you bore me before the world began...To them I have revealed your name, and will continue to reveal it so that your love may live in them, and I may live in them."
All who believe in Jesus are united with Him but not all who are united to Him are united in the same way and to the same degree. As for example, I may be united to a family living next door to me merely by the fact we live next door to one another we are neighbors. For the time being I may not know their names or how many live in the family but I wave to them and they wave to me whenever we see one another as we go out to pick up the newspaper or drive away on our way to work in the mornings. I may be their cousin, their landlord, a partner with them in a local industry. One or the other of us may eventually have done something injurious to the other and damaged our relationship. We no longer wave a greeting when we leave for work or mow our lawns at the same time.
It is similar with our relationship with Jesus and through Jesus with the Father. In our
Catholic tradition, handed down from the beginning, we understand the words of the prayer of Jesus given in St. John's Gospel as literally true. We believe that as the Father lives in Jesus, Jesus lives in us. Our Christian experience of unity with Jesus is not to be lived out merely in memory of Jesus or in imitation of Jesus along with His help and inspiration, but actuallyin the real three dimensions of our daily life. To help me understrand and appreciate this I like to recall an analogy that tells of a little boy coming home from pre-school one day and very excitedly running to his mother in the kitchen with the news he knows that 2 + 2 is 4. She asks him how did he find that out. "The teacher told me!"
The teacher shared something of him or her self and in a real sense 'lives' in him. The boy makes the truth his own and can make use of it for the rest of his life, but in a limited sense it still 'belongs' to the teacher.
Ths blog is long so I'll leave for 'tomorrow' further consideraions relating to our unity with Jesus by faith. In this unity is the answer to all of our questions about 'evil' in creation, and the content of our Christian Response to 'evil'.