• SUNDAY READ

    Do you want to rise from the dead?

    2

    Ricardo Saludo

    While many may instantly nod, in fact, most, if not all people much prefer never to die.

    Endless life now is deemed far better than breath, heart and mind grinding to a halt before finding light at the tunnel’s end, even if that brilliance is everlasting.

    But hold that thought: Do we really want to live forever the way things are in this world? Maybe not.

    Ask a destitute loner, a blind beggar, an Ebola-stricken patient, and countless other unfortunates. They also don’t want their pains and privations to last forever.

    No, eternal life isn’t what we desire, but eternal heaven.

    No, eternal life isn’t what we desire, but eternal heaven.

    Indeed, men through millennia have wondered: Why didn’t the good and loving God create a perfect world sans sin, sickness, poverty, calamity, and death?

    We’ve given our dumb answer before: If God made a perfect anything, it would be replication, not creation, since anything perfect is divine, too.

    Take the Blessed Trinity. Christianity preaches that God the Father, the First Person of the Triune God, begot God the Son, the equally eternal Second Person; and the everlasting Love between Father and Son is the Holy Spirit, the Third Person. All Three are God, almighty, eternal, perfect, all-knowing, all-loving, and all the rest that make God God.

    But by definition, creatures are different and distinct from the Creator, and therefore not almighty, eternal, perfect, and all the rest of it. Our flaws, including our sinfulness, are the price of being created. And our Maker’s first act of mercy was to make everything despite countless attributes and actions of every creature falling way short of His perfection, or even opposing it.

    Even the lofty angels, deemed by Christians as infinitely greater beings than us mortals, are flawed. A third of them, led by Lucifer, once the grandest of creatures, are believed to have rebelled against God and fallen to hell.

    Obviously, humanity, too, suffers from creaturely failings; for one thing, we die. But by God’s mercy and grace, we can aspire to His perfection.

    Christians believe God Himself not only instructed us by commandments and parables how to be holy like Him. The Almighty also took on our earthly existence, as the divine and human Jesus, so that by His unsullied life and unselfish death, and the divine grace He won for us, all humanity can learn and be enabled to achieve perfect holiness and be one with Him.

    Thus, God so loved the world that He not only created us despite our appalling, even demonic imperfections, but also drank the bitterest cup of our fallen human condition until His most agonizing and ignominious demise, so that we may be saved and partake of His divinity.

    To go to heaven, say goodbye to earth
    The great events of Christian redemption, commemorated from Maundy Thursday to Easter Sunday, impart both the heavenly reward of holiness, and the selfless, sacrificial path for those who follow Jesus to “be perfect as our heavenly Father is perfect.”

    Christ’s life, preaching, suffering and death cleared a five-fold path.

    First, total obedience to the Father, as Jesus declared in Gethsemane: “My Father, if this chalice may not pass away, but I must drink it, Thy will be done.”

    Disobedience brought original sin into the world; complete obedience even unto death wiped it away and repaired the breach between God and man.

    Second, total love and sacrifice for all humanity, just as our Father in heaven “makes his sun to rise upon the good, and bad, and rains upon the just and the unjust.”

    As one reflection put it, greater love than this no man has than to lay down his life for his executioners. Thus, Jesus’s Platinum Rule: “Love one another as I have loved you.”

    Third, suffering hardship and evil, to make of our ills the instruments of our salvation and sanctification. Even the unjust, cruel crucifixion is transformed into history’s holiest event. Dying becomes the greatest human act God can do.

    Fourth, condemned and crushed by the world, Jesus relies entirely on God: “Father, into Thy Hands I commend My Spirit.” We too must eventually turn to Him for everything, now or at the hour of our death.

    Fifth and most important, Jesus chose heaven over earth. His desert temptations were all about that choice: feeding the spirit, not the stomach; trusting God, not testing Him; and adoring Him, not the powers of this world.

    When Pilate asked if He was a king, Jesus replied: “My kingdom is not of this world.” And His rising proved that His reign is indeed out of this world and utterly free from its strictures and structures.

    The Eight Beatitudes of Jesus’s Sermon on the Mount also set out the path to holy unity with God. The poor in spirit see all creation as His gift, and live entirely depending on and grateful to Him, whether He endows or deprives.

    The meek, the mournful, and the clean of heart seek nothing for themselves, and give all for the Lord and His children, especially the least of our brethren. Those who hunger, thirst, and suffer persecution for God’s righteousness ceaselessly strive for those heavenly ideals, even if the world obstructs and reviles them.

    And the greatest of the eight divine attributes, showing mercy and making peace, repair our defects and discords by forgiving them in mercy, first of all, then joining hands in peace to make them right.

    Can we do all that? Do we? In our age, we trust technology, obey market forces, and put all and sundry to the test, even the Almighty. We always ask “What’s in it for me?” and subject everything to man as the measure of all.

    For sure, we may not often obey and trust in God, have His love and mercy for all, and turn away from worldly lures. But if we seek Him and His Way, His Truth, and His Life, even when we fall into sin and death, He will raise us.

    Amen. A Blessed Easter to all!

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    2 Comments

    1. Amnata Pundit on

      What you are saying in so many words is that the glory belongs to Jesus/God because of the “sacrifice” that He made. Since Jesus was sure to go to heaven upon his death, what exactly did He sacrifice? Isn’t heaven where we all want to go? The victims of the Inquisition were were so horribly sacrificed too that if they were given a choice they would have gladly chosen crucifixion instead. Since the Church is the sole proxy of Jesus in this world, by accepting these teachings we are obligating ourselves to obey the Church without question. Obviously, this kind of religion can only be propagated by the use of the sword, which is exactly how it was done in this country. Poor Jesus.Had he known that His name was going to be used to prop up a hegemonic, imperialist power, would He have agreed to His sacrifice? Whatever, Happy Easter just the same.