Monday, March 23, 2015

Passover to Salvation

Rubens Crucifixion
In the Gospel according to John, Jesus is in Jerusalem for the Jewish Passover meal which celebrates the deliverance of the Hebrews from their oppressors in Ancient Egypt.     Here Gentiles, non-Jews, are seeking Jesus out. They want to see him, to believe in him.  

And just as religious Jews will celebrate on April 3 the passage of their forebears from oppression to freedom, so too do we celebrate Jesus’ passage or “Passover” from death to life at the Easter Vigil: a passage that liberates us from death and nothingness and gifts us with God’s life. 

Yes, Jesus is indeed our savior. He is indeed our salvation.  But what means salvation?

We live in a culture that advertises countless phony forms of salvation.  

For St. Paul, salvation means that we possess within ourselves, by virtue of the waters of baptism, God’s grace, the gift of God’s triune life.  Paul uses several words to describe salvation:  “liberation”, “justification” or “a right relationship with God.”  

Salvation is really a lifelong process, not a “quick fix.”  We continually have to struggle.  The word "salvation" tries to answer a fundamental question:  What is the ultimate purpose of my life?  The purpose is to be in relationship with God.  That’s why we are here: to be in relationship and friendship with God forever.

The Catholic answer also acknowledges our freedom to choose good over evil, the true over the false.  And vice versa, unfortunately! Hence all of us are responsible, accountable, for the way in which we choose to live. 

Tragically, some people in fact do choose evil.  The tradition calls this “original sin”: the tendency or pull to sometimes choose wrong over right; a lack of a genuine relationship with God. 

Some have sought human solutions to this human problem.  They have looked for answers in the world of things, in “isms” of one kind or another.

The Catholic tradition looks beyond the world of things, to a power beyond ourselves, a God who is not indifferent to our brokenness, our alienation. For our God is an all-good God. 

We possess within our fragile selves God’s triune life, God’s grace. We are in relationship with God.  But we must continue to struggle to struggle against the forces within ourselves that try to derail us on our journey. 

Salvation ultimately means God’s triune life within us forever.   And I pray that we will reenergize ourselves to seek God first in our everyday lives, that we will recharge and reenergize ourselves by renewing our baptismal promises continually, especially at Easter; by a change of heart; and by turning away every day from a self-centered to a God-centered, other-centered life.    

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