Sunday, April 24, 2011

Letting Jesus into Your Life

After having a very difficult Lent keeping my promise to fast between meals, I was so happy to hear Fr. Jonathan's homily this morning. But his homily went far beyond shattered resolutions to the crux of the matter and that is my trust in God. Below is much of his homily with some scriptural additions to sort of flesh it out. The content in blue is from Fr. Jonathan's homily.

Jesus Christ is Risen! Alleluia!!!

The Resurrection is, indeed, the greatest event of all time! Everything - EVERYTHING else is pointless without it. There is something deeply important about the Resurrection that is Good News for us and for everything that truly matters in our lives. 

The Sin of Adam and Eve

In the beginning, after the sin of Adam, we no longer walked with God. And ever since, we become separated from God through our personal sin. We repeatedly turn our back on God - the God Who created us out of love. What did it get us - this turning away from God? It brought us death - a death predicted by God Himself.
~ Genesis 2:16-17 ~ "And the LORD God commanded the man, saying, 'You may freely eat of every tree of the garden; but of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil you shall not eat, for in the day that you eat of it you shall die.'" 
God gave the command to Adam before Eve was ever created. Adam then communicated it to Eve. Somehow, it lost something in the translation for Eve added things when she was being enticed by Satan.
~ Genesis 3:2-3 ~ "And the woman said to the serpent, 'We may eat of the fruit of the trees of the garden; but God said, '"You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree which is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die."'" 
Here the command was not to eat from one tree but the temptation to see God as being unfair came from the serpent who convinced Eve that the fruit of the tree was good and that God was deceiving them.
~ Genesis 3:4-6 ~ "But the serpent said to the woman, 'You will not die. For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.' So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate; and she also gave some to her husband, and he ate."
Adam and Eve listened to the serpent. That was their big mistake. They judged the tree's fruit from appearances and the temptation by the serpent to be wise like God. But their judgment was faulty. God had forbidden the fruit knowing what would happen and they failed to trust God. This is how they missed the mark: they failed to trust God. And so, God sent Adam and Eve out of the garden. He banished them so they were not able to also eat of the Tree of Life which was also in the midst of the garden. 
~ Genesis 2:9 ~ "And out of the ground the LORD God made to grow every tree that is pleasant to the sight and good for food, the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil." 
Why did God banish them? It seems harsh, but in fact, God was being merciful. He did not want them to eat from the Tree of Life. If they had eaten of the Tree of Life, their death would have been permanent. "But isn't death our permanent condition?" you might ask. The answer is no and here is why.

God's Plan All Along

Dying was unacceptable to God. Death was not His plan for us although He knew that Adam and Eve would disobey. And so, at the appointed time, God came to do for us what we ourselves could NOT do. In the Exultet on Holy Saturday, we hear the words proclaimed, "Oh Happy Fault! Oh necessary sin of Adam, which gained for us so great a Redeemer!" God's plan all along was to send His only begotten Son.
~ Galatians 4:4-5 ~ "But when the time had fully come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons." 
You see, something very powerful happens when God dies. When God dies, death is defeated.
~ I Corinthians 15:55-57 "'O death, where is thy victory? O death, where is thy sting?' The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ."
 The Way Things Appear Is Not the Way Things Are.

And so the Resurrection gives us hope. The way things appear is not the way things are. God created a new way. When God, Who is Love, enters into death, death becomes a passage to new life. We must allow the power of the Risen Christ to help us - to change us from the inside out. The Resurrection means that NOTHING can keep us from God. 
~ Romans 8:38-39 ~ "I am sure that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers,  nor height, nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord."
Christ, our Hope, has risen! And so we have a new pathway to God.

Judas and Peter both turned against Jesus. In some ways, Peter's sin was greater because he denied Jesus three times. But Peter's actions afterward were different from Judas. Judas' repentance was motivated by his desire to undo what he had done. But only Jesus could do that and so he was unsuccessful, he despaired. While it appears that Peter did nothing but weep and run away, we have to understand that he also returned to the tomb and had faith that Jesus would somehow fix things. Later, on the shore of the sea of Gallilee, Jesus asks, "Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . . Do you love me? . . ." Peter's answer is a resounding "YES". It was Peter's sin of triple denial of Jesus ("I AM not.") that needed healing by the Risen Lord. 

This reminds me of a poem I wrote almost 20 years ago.

 Oh, Peter, weathered fisherman!
 How much we are the same!
 So clumsy in our love for Christ
So uncertain of our name.
You stood beside the charcoal fire
To warm your doubtful heart.
Hiding from yourself,
You stood denying who you are.
"I am not," you sadly said.
In fear you turned away,
Rejecting Jesus and yourself until the light of day.                                                          
But, Peter, I remember
There's another charcoal fire
That Jesus built upon the beach
To quench your fierce desire.
And now, when questioned by the Lord, upon the morning shore,
You said, "You know I love you" like saying "I am yours."          
And that is who we really are
In him we are set free.
His love and mercy tell us who we are to be!
The first denial, "I am not"
Is transformed by his death.
And in his rising,"I am yours" is acceptance in every breath.
If we’re open to His mercy
He will set our hearts aflame.
Then when He asks us, “Do you love me?”
We can answer without shame,“I am yours.”

Where We Need Jesus Most

The place where we are most ashamed - where we are hurting the most - is where we need Jesus most. It may be that we have committed some sin that we think is unforgivable. It may be the relationship in our family that is most difficult. These are the places where Jesus wants to give us new life. 

In Baptism, Jesus made us part of what He did. It begins there but continues each Sunday so that we can continue to have the power of Jesus Christ within us. This is Jesus' triumph over death that we celebrate in the Sacraments. Jesus, the New Adam undid what Adam and Eve did in the garden and He wants to free us from the shame and guilt that resulted.
~ Genesis 3:8 ~ "And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden." 
Where have I turned away from God? 

Where am I ashamed to walk with God in the cool of the evening?

Where do I hide in the darkness that keeps me in slavery?

Where to I allow sin to have power over me?

That is where He wants to bring healing. It is where He wants to come - where He wants to come NOW! Let Jesus into your life! AMEN!

Letting Jesus Into Your Life

As Fr. Jonathan says, "The Church is not a hotel for saints; it is a hospital for sinners." Letting Jesus into Your Life takes a firm and resolved "yes". It doesn't mean we will not fall. It simply means that when we fall, we will get up and try again.

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