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(Part 6)


April 30, 2012
Today’s gospel: John 10:1-10

In the beginning, God created and what He created was good. However, sin came into the picture and paradise was lost. But right at that terrible moment of judgment, as the protagonists in the drama were before God to receive His pronouncement of their punishment, when all seemed totally lost, there came a glimmer of hope.

God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will strike at your head, while you strike at his heel.” (Gen 3:15). This was the very first prophecy of the coming of a Savior. God’s plan had been momentarily thwarted, but would not be thwarted forever. God had already put into motion the plan that would enable man to be with Him once again in paradise.

In the fullness of time, God sent His very own Son into the world to redeem it. “For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.” (Jn 3:16). Once again, God acted out of love.

So Jesus came, and this is what he proclaimed: “I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly.” (Jn 10:10b). God had created a world of abundance, but that was lost. Now God, in Jesus, again offers an abundant life. God is moving to restore us to His original plan.

It has now been two millennia since Jesus came. How is life in the world today? Is it abundant?

Well, through the years the world has experienced unprecedented wealth and progress. Standards of living have risen appreciatively. Medical care has improved tremendously. But there are also all the wrong things­massive poverty, wars that bring death and misery, social inequality, environmental degradation. There are pressures on land, food, water and energy. There is injustice, violation of human rights, and absence of peace.

Once again it is not God’s fault, but the blame rests entirely on man. Why are we not experiencing abundance of life today? It is because man has turned away from God. It is because man lives in disobedience to God’s law and in rebellion to His way of life.

Here is what God promised His chosen people, the Israelites.

“If you live in accordance with my precepts and are careful to observe my commandments, I will give you rain in due season, so that the land will bear its crops, and the trees their fruit; your threshing will last till vintage time, and your vintage till the time for sowing, and you will have food to eat in abundance, so that you may dwell securely in your land. I will establish peace in the land, that you may lie down to rest without anxiety. I will rid the country of ravenous beasts, and keep the sword of war from sweeping across your land.” (Lev 26:3-6).

Wow! Now that is abundance! More than enough food to eat. Life unperturbed by fears or anxieties. A community experiencing peace, justice and prosperity.

But there is a big “IF”! We need to live in accordance with God’s way of life, strictly obeying His commandments. Tragically, many in today’s world, including so-called Christians, are not living according to the ways and commands of God.

The greatest blessing for man in paradise was that God was with them, talking with them and walking with them. Until that time when God finally brings us back to paradise where we will live with Him eternally in heaven, He still offers to be with us as we walk on our earthly pilgrimage. “I will set my Dwelling among you, and will not disdain you. Ever present in your midst, I will be your God, and you will be my people” (Lev 26:11-12).

We know that God is in our midst today. Jesus himself says, “For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them.” (Mt 18:20). Those so-called Christians who are anti-life are not gathered in the name of Jesus. Their actions in fact oppose what is of Jesus. If God is not present in their day-to-day walk, then they walk in darkness. Then they bring death­to themselves and to the world.

Now there is a more profound aspect in experiencing an abundant life. It is not just us living in God, but God Himself living in us. The greatest manifestation of God’s presence among us is the Eucharist, where Jesus is physically present in the bread and wine. Jesus says, “I am the bread of life.” (Jn 6:48). You want life? Then partake of Jesus’ body and blood in the Eucharist. You want abundant life? What could be more abundant than God Himself living in us, spiritually and physically? You want to live in a world of abundance? He says, “the bread that I will give is my flesh for the life of the world.” (Jn 6:51c).

On the other hand, Jesus also says, “Amen, amen, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you do not have life within you.” (Jn 6:53). You would be like a zombie, the walking dead.

Most Protestant denominations today no longer believe in the Real Presence. They might have a communion service, but it is just about a family fellowship. Do we then wonder why they have become liberal and modernist in their faith? They accept contraception, divorce, abortion and active homosexuality. They have become purveyors of the culture of death. They not only do not have life within them, but they are participating in depriving others of life.

How do we live an abundant life on earth? That is a life in Jesus, and he says, “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood remains in me and I in him.” (Jn 6:56). How will we ultimately make it to eternal life in heaven? Jesus makes this promise: “Whoever eats my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him on the last day.” (Jn 6:54).

(Excerpts from my new book, Forty Days of Life)

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