2

Life Everlasting

[18] And there came to him the Sadducees, who say there is no resurrection; and they asked him, saying: [19] Master, Moses wrote unto us, that if any man’s brother die, and leave his wife behind him, and leave no children, his brother should take his wife, and raise up seed to his brother. [20] Now there were seven brethren; and the first took a wife, and died leaving no issue.

[21] And the second took her, and died: and neither did he leave any issue. And the third in like manner. [22] And the seven all took her in like manner; and did not leave issue. Last of all the woman also died. [23] In the resurrection therefore, when they shall rise again, whose wife shall she be of them? for the seven had her to wife. [24] And Jesus answering, saith to them: Do ye not therefore err, because you know not the scriptures, nor the power of God? [25] For when they shall rise again from the dead, they shall neither marry, nor be married, but are as the angels in heaven.

[26] And as concerning the dead that they rise again, have you not read in the book of Moses, how in the bush God spoke to him, saying: I am the God of Abraham, and the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob? [27] He is not the God of the dead, but of the living. You therefore do greatly err.

Matthew 12:  18-27

 

 

 

 

 

After my son Larry died, in a few months to be five years past, I wrote this:

 

Without God my dead son would be nothing, I would be nothing and all that I love would be nothing.  With God, this brief life is a mere doorway into splendor unimaginable and a love that surpasses understanding.  In the grief I experience now I truly understand, with my heart, as I always have with my mind, my utter and absolute dependence upon the grace, mercy and love of God.  Throughout my life God has given me a fairly easy path.  Now a harder path beckons, and my family and I must walk it with the same faith in God that we walked the easier path.  However hard the path I know the joy that await for those who walk it in faith, the same indescribable joy my Larry is now experiencing.

 

God did not make us only for our brief mortal lives, but to share eternity with him.  In that eternity we will receive the Justice that so often eludes us here below.  As Saint Paul noted, if our hope in Christ was limited to this life, Christians would be the most pitiable of all.  But our hope is not so limited.  God’s love for us is stronger than mortal death, and our hopes are mere faint reflections of the glory that await the Just in Heaven.

The more one thinks about it, the worse it becomes. He got through so easily! No gradual misgivings, no doctor’s sentence, no nursing home, no operating theatre, no false hopes of life: sheer, instantaneous liberation. One moment it seemed to be all our world; the scream of bombs, the fall of houses, the stink and taste of high explosive on the lips and in the lungs, the feet burning with weariness, the heart cold with horrors, the brain reeling, the legs aching; next moment all this was gone, gone like a bad dream, never again to be of any account. Defeated, outmaneuvered fool! Did you mark how naturally-as if he’d been born for it-the Earth-born vermin entered the new life? How all his doubts became, in the twinkling of an eye, ridiculous? I know what the creature was saying to itself! “Yes. Of course. It always was like this. All horrors have followed the same course, getting worse and worse and forcing you into a kind of bottleneck till, at the very moment when you thought you must be crushed, behold! you were out of the narrows and all was suddenly well. The extraction hurt more and more and then the tooth was out. The dream became a nightmare and then you woke. You die and die and then you are beyond death. How could I ever have doubted it?”

The Screwtape Letters

 

4

That Awkward Age Between Birth and Death

A good friend of mine, and Godfather to my son died a few months ago, finally succumbing to complications from Cystic Fibrosis. He was only 52 years old, but if you know about Cystic Fibrosis you may know that a person born with that genetic disorder should not expect to live much past the age 40.

He was a holy man and about as ready to go home to the Lord as anyone I’ve ever known. In recent years, as his health was obviously declining, we’d speak of death and heaven and he would often say things that were unambiguously enthusiastic like, “I can’t wait!!” At his funeral services I found myself a bit jealous. He got to go home to God and I am left here to face not only my own potential future sins, but also the sins of others.

I don’t know about you, but oftentimes what’s in the news is so evil that I take consolation in the fact that I will not live on this Earth forever. From horrifying and mindboggling terrorist attacks around the globe, to the most lewd sexual scandals involving seemly decent public figures from Bill Cosby to Matt Lauer, we wonder what 2018 will bring us. We see the power of sin; what sin can do to a person is somewhat like what the brick does to the washing machine in the following video. Sin is no laughing matter, but I laugh every time I see this:

Washing_Machine_Brick

But as Christians we are not to despair about bricks being tossed about. Instead, we are called to pick up our cross, fend off the bricks and follow Christ to help him build The Kingdom of God on Earth. There is great joy in that, even as we relate to St Paul’s thoughts about life and death from time to time.

“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. If I go on living in the flesh, that means fruitful labor for me. And I do not know which I shall choose. I am caught between the two. I long to depart this life and be with Christ, [for] that is far better. Yet that I remain [in] the flesh is more necessary for your benefit.” (Philippians 1:21-24)

So how do we navigate the awkward age between birth and death? Well, we all have a soul which means we have the ability to know a thing (with our intellect) and then act upon that thing (with our will). We’re allowed to make our own choices, even if we chose evil. Our will should desire Goodness and our intellect should desire Truth because we are made for God and God is Goodness itself and Truth itself. But the effects of sin weaken the will and dim the intellect, so that we no longer seek what is good or understand what is true. In others words, sin makes us spiritually lazy and stupid!

In this life, we either move our will and our intellect toward God or toward “self”. The closer we move toward God the closer our desire for truth and goodness is satisfied. The beatific vision or Heaven is when we are one in union with the source of all truth and all goodness. An eternal and inescapable state of dissatisfaction and loneliness comes when we have permanently moved our will and intellect toward “self” and away from God; this is Hell.

So as we find ourselves in another new year, let us ask ourselves….. What choices am I making each day? Where do I spend my time and money? Where do my idle thoughts go? Am I moving toward God or toward “self”? We may hear or read a lot about the choices we make with our time and money, but even the most careful Christian might underestimate the effect idle thoughts can have on us. I would say this is especially true for men as they struggle with chastity, and their bad behavior towards women ends up in the news or worse yet, lands them in Hell.

“Sow a thought and you reap an action; sow an act and you reap a habit; sow a habit and you reap a character; sow a character and you reap a destiny.”1

 

  1. Charles A. Fowler, Biblical Truths for Men (Innovo Publishing, LLC, 2014), p. 115.
24

Choosing Hell

This post originally ran (I’ve cleaned up a few typos, but otherwise left it unchanged) back in 2006, but the topic has been on my mind, and having found it via Google while researching the topic of the Fundamental Option I decided to rerun this one rather than writing a new one.

Quite some time back, Pontifications ran a post about the theory of “fundamental option”, which it seems is the theological term for the idea that one’s salvation is based upon a fundamental choice that one makes either for or against God.

This image for the determination of one’s salvation has a certain utility in that it is simple and evocative. C. S. Lewis uses it in The Last Battle, where all of Narnia’s creatures face Aslan and swerve either to his right (with loving expressions) or to his left (with hate in their eyes). And yet, like any image or illustration, applying it absolutely leads to distortion. The ‘encounter God and choose’ image helps to emphasize that God’s judgment is not some arbitrary judgment imposed upon us. It also helps to explain how someone externally appearing to have sinned many times might be saved, while someone who to all appearances led a virtuous life, yet held pride in his heart, might reject God and be condemned. And yet, taken as an absolute of ‘salvation by choice alone’ the theory of ‘fundamental option’ becomes just as much a heresy as ‘salvation by faith alone’.
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