The Big Picture of Christianity

What is the job of a Christian?

Christians are scientists whose mission is to discover the truth about God. The holy places that define the escape route through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land are the laboratories at which our scientific investigation takes place.

“There is not enough darkness in all the world to put out the light of even one small candle”

— Robert Alden

At the Holy Places, sinners are transformed into saints by virtue of close encounters with the living God. Therefore, does it make any sense whatsoever to bar sinners from the holy places ?

Making Our Escape through the Valley of Tears

The Holy Spirit is a nudge. She is tugging at our souls and gesticulating wildly to the bonfire of love that burns implacably for us in the most sacred heart of the Son of God. The bonfire is the beacon that burns steadfastly to illuminate the location of our home. It is the candle in the window. Many run from the Holy Spirit as they run from a homeless person accosting them for a handout in the street. However, the nudging of the Holy Spirit has tickled the curiosity of a subset of the children of Adam and Eve. The curious are following the tug back to its source. Emerging from their curiosity are questions. 'How do we get there from here?' 'Who has the map and knows the way?' Holy places serve as landmarks that define the escape route from godlessness to paradise. At the holy places, the curious explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. Close encounters with the living God take place at the holy places. During a close encounter with the living God, a connection is made between earth and heaven. Through the connection, God enters the world and the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God empty handed. During close encounters with the living God, sinners are transformed into saints. Do you feel the tug? Are you curious? Do you want to participate in the new Exodus? Do you want to head to the promised land? For more than two thousand years, the Church has helped the curious follow the tug of the Holy Spirit. Surely a Chruch with more than two thousand years of experience knows a thing or two about the escape route from godlessness to paradise? The Church has the map and knows the way. The Church is the tour guide who takes expeditions of the curious to the holy places to introduce them to God and to introduce God to them.

 

What is the most inspiring aspect of Christianity? What takes your breath away? What makes you exclaim, "Wow!"?

God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

 

If you were God, how would you solve the butterfingers problem. Lucifer let the gift of paradise slip through his fingers. So did the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer. So did Adam. So did Eve. What is your solution?

Hint: God lets us stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. The valley of tears is hostile territory so God's pedagogy is severe. But, the prodigal son will never go back to the pig sty. And neither will we. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We know better.

If you were God, how would you take the air out of the serpent's balloon? How would you drain the serpent's lie of its power to deceive? What is your solution?

Hint: God lets us stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. We learn during the delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise that we do not become 'gods' without God in the valley of tears as the serpent promised.

If you were God, how would you push the children of Adam and Eve to the exit of godlessness? What is your solution?

Hint: God lets us stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. The valley of tears sucks. Godlessness is autodidactic. A lifetime in the valley of tears shatters the illusion that sugarcoats it. Rational creatures flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

If you were God, how would you pull the children of Adam and Eve to the entrance of paradise? What is your solution?

Hint: God sent the sledgehammer of truth from heaven to earth to shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

If you were God, how would mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears? Would you mitigate it at all? How? What is your solution?

Hint: Jesus transported from heaven to earth a tool to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears as a gift to humanity. Not only did he transport it from heaven to earth himself, he demonstrated that it works by hanging from his own Cross himself. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. He donned the jetpack and flew to show us that we too can fly. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love kicks suffering's ass.

 

The Agent of Persuasion

We are rational creatures. We reason. Reasoning proceeds in an orderly fashion from start to finish - from premise to conclusion. A conclusion stands on a platform of premises. The premises are the platform from which we jump to touchdown on a conclusion. Both the premises and the conclusion are important. Yet, the agent of persuasion is the premises not the conclusion. Conclusions do not persuade. Only premises persuade. The stronger the premises, the stronger is our grip on the conclusion. The weaker the premises, the weaker is our grip. Without premises, a conclusion has no value whatsoever. It is a guess - nothing more.

 

Who is God?

What is your answer to the question, 'Who is God?', and, more importantly, what is the basis for your answer? (Your answer is only as good as its basis.)

The significant question is, therefore,'How accurate is your version of God?' Is it up-to-date? Or is it antediluvian? Is it time for an upgrade? Perform a self-inspection. Test your understanding of God. Put into words the version of God that you hold in your head. Articulate it. Can you? Who is your God and how do you know him?!

 

High Fidelity Representations of the Reality of God

We try to capture reality by squeezing it into cages (Genesis 2:20). In this way, we exercise dominion over reality (Genesis 1:26).  By squeezing reality into cages, we get a handle on it. The cages with which we capture reality are representations.  In our hubris, we subject God to the capturing process.  We try to squeeze the reality of God into a cage. However, our representations only approximate the reality of God as best they can.  As approximations of the reality of God, they fall short. The reality of God eludes capture. It avoids our cages.  Yet, we try.  It is not easy to squeeze God into a representation. Thus, the representations of the reality of God made by human hands are low fidelity representations.

The inaccuracy of our representations of the reality of God is the reason God banned us from attempting such folly (Exodus 20:4). Better no representation than an inaccurate representation. Furthermore, instead of inferior representations of the reality of God made by human hands, God planned to give us a superior representation of the reality of God made by the hand of God himself.  God planned to give us an autobiography - a self-portrait. God planned to put into our hands a fair and accurate representation of God - an authentic, first-class, high fidelity representation of the reality of God. God did so in the passion, death and resurrection of his Son. The best representation of the reality of God is derived from the passion, death and resurrection of his Son - far superior to any representation of God made by human hands. In the next paragraph, you will find the representation of the reality of God that is derived from the passion, death and resurrection of his Son.

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Power and love are the characteristics that best capture the reality of God - perfection in power and perfection in love. His power built paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love.

In religion, high fidelity representations of the reality of God are portals through which God enters the world. Words can represent the reality of God. So, too, saints. The body and blood of the most Holy Eucharist as well. The body and blood of the most Holy Eucharist are a perfect representation of the reality of our God - indistinguishable from God.  The body and blood of the most Holy Eucharist point us to the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God. Reality has the power to influence that which comes into contact with it. Representations also have a similar power. The power of our representations depends on their fidelity to the reality that they represent. The greater their fidelity, the greater their power. Representations with a high fidelity to the reality they represent can influence those who come into proximity with them as forcefully as an encounter with the reality itself. Their perfection in representation makes the most Holy Eucharist extremely powerful.

Note:  Worthy of contemplation is the "Jinba ittai" between our hunger and thirst and the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist.  "Jinba ittai" is a Japanese term that describes the unity between a horse and rider. Ideally, they are not two but one. A similar unity exists between our hunger and thirst and the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist (Matthew 4:4). The most Holy Eucharist reminds us that our food and drink are the passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God. The passion, death and resurrection of the Son of God slake our thirst and satisfy our hunger.

 

The Treasure Chest of Christianity

As our propinquity to the age of Adam and Eve and a life lived in Eden grew ever more distant in space and time, the sweetness of paradise faded from our memory. We forgot. Our long exile in the valley of tears raised an illusion that obscured from us the sweetness of paradise. The most Holy Trinity decided that the time was ripe to shatter the illusion with the sledgehammer of truth as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. The children of Adam and Eve would be reacquainted with their God.
  
The knowledge of God, it was decided, would be transported from heaven to earth and into the hands of the children of Adam and Eve.

The knowledge of God is the treasure in the treasure chest of Christianity.

Arising from this decision was the question, ‘what package would be appropriate to hold and carry the knowledge of God during its journey?’. Ordinarily, to hold and carry knowledge, knowledge is put into a book or into some other traditional repository of knowledge. However, not in this case. The knowledge of God was so valuable that no ordinary, conventional, no-frills, humdrum repository would have been suitable. A package equal in dignity to its cargo was desired.

Indeed, in this case, a treasure chest was needed because the knowledge of God is the most precious of treasures.

Therefore, into an extraordinary treasure chest, the knowledge of God was poured. The treasure chest was unique. It lived and breathed and had its own exalted being. Into Jesus, the knowledge of God was poured. During His Visit to us, the Son of God shared the treasure with us. He made us rich. 

 

What genre of literature is the word of God? The word of God is a love note.

Have you read the love note that your God sent you?

The love note that God hand delivered to us at Bethlehem passed through the furnance of his passion and death at Calvary. From the furnace, his love for us emerged undiminished.

The Love Note

A love note was sent to us by God. We received it at Bethlehem.

Can you wrap your mind around the fact that our God sent us a love note? Is this not incredible? Wow! But, wait a minute. This sounds too good to be true. Is the story of the love note just a fabulous myth? Is it real? How do we know that the love note is real? It could be counterfeit. We know that the love note is real because God also gave us a guarantee of its genuineness. God verified for us the genuineness of the love note. Its authenticity was verified by his passion, death and resurrection. If the love note were counterfeit, his love for us would have faded as we tortured him and would have died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. Its survival is the incontrovertible proof that the love note is genuine.

His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us (Matthew 7:9-11). Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid  (Psalm 27:1)? Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint?

 Rest in his love. Rest your head on the pillow of his love for us. 
  
Keep the guarantee of genuineness in a safe place. Keep it handy for use as a tonic when your circumstances challenge and jeopardize your belief in the reality of his love for you. 

The greater the love we bear in our hearts, the greater the resemblance we bear to God .

The Proof

The Most Holy Trinity hit upon the most ingenious and persuasive way to prove that their love for us is real. They sent us a love note at Bethlehem. They let us try but fail to destroy it at Calvary. In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he rose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not.  The love note survived the evil we did to him. Our failure is our proof. If this does not convince us that their love for us is real, nothing can or will.  Their love for us is the honey that lures the bees back home to the hive. The reality of his love for us is the rock on which we base our understanding of God. Reality is reliable. Rely on the reality that God loves you. Rest in it.

 

God Sent Us

1) a Love Note and

2) Proof of its Genuineness

- two gifts not one


A love note was dispatched by the Holy Trinity from heaven to earth and delivered to us by the Son of God himself at Bethlehem. He was the love note. But a love note is not the only gift that the most Holy Trinity sent from heaven to earth. For the scoffers, the most Holy Trinity also provided the gift of proof - proof of the love note's genuineness. The Son of God himself verified the genuineness of the love note in the most spectacular and persuasive way possible - he let us try to destroy it and fail (John 2:19). We had the weapons that ordinarily would succeed. We used them against him (Luke 23:34). In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. 
  
 We failed to extinguish his love for us or reduce its intensity by even the slightness degree. He continued to love us nonetheless despite the evil we did to him. Our failure is our proof. If his love for us were counterfeit, it would have withered as we tortured it and died when we killed it. But it did not. It survived the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Its survival is its proof of genuineness - its certificate of authenticity - its verification. 

Wow! Rejoice! We tried but failed to destroy the love note. His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can build our lives upon the reality of his love for us. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the rock that supports our confidence in our omnipotent lover. We are dearly loved by Omnipotence. Whom shall we fear?  Of whom shall we be afraid? He will never disappoint us. He will never let us down. Trust in him.

 

The autobiography of God was written on the blank page of Calvary in the ink of torture, death and resurrection.

 

The Autobiography of God

Are you privy to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection?

The Crucifixion was our harsh interrogation of him. In the Crucifixion, we shouted our harsh questions at him with lash, thorns, nails and spear.  "Identify yourself!" we demanded of him in the Crucifixion. "Who are you?" we asked.  "Friend or foe?" (Judges 12:4-6)

"Friend," he responded. 

Through his bloody wounds, he communicated his gentle answer to our harsh questions. The good news of great joy was preached to us through his bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are the mouth of God.   

"Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God"  (Matthew 4:4).

Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds.

Through the wounds that our evil opened, buckets of blood poured from his body. On a cataract of blood, his most precious possession - that which is most dear to all of us - his very life itself was carried through his wounds out of his body. Yet, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. 

He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let it go even though we tortured and killed him. He clung to his love for us with the iron grip of the drowning man who clings to a life preserver in the stormy sea after his ship is sunk. His love for us did not fade as we tortured him and did not die when we killed him. The evil we did to him did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart or reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. His love for us survived the evil we did to him.

Wow!

Rejoice and be glad because our God is head over heels in love with us (Psalm 8:4-8) (Isaiah 55:8-9).

The pressure that our evil put on him to relinquish his love for us was most extreme. We turned the screws on him. Yet, he refused to capitulate to the pressure. He refused to cave in. He refused to yield or surrender. His refusal demonstrates conclusively that his love for us is real. Reality is dependable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us (Matthew 7:9-11).  His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house  (Matthew 7:24-27) (Psalm 18:2) 

"By his wounds you have been healed."  (1 Peter 2:24) (Isaiah 53:5)

P.S. The Mass is a re-enactment of the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The pivot around which the Mass revolves is his body and his blood. His body and his blood point us to his wounds. Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his wounds.

What did the Holy Blacksmith forge in the furnace of his passion and death?

The sledgehammer of truth.

How was it forged?

By depositing the Son of God into the furnance and then having him emerge therefrom still alive and still in love with us.


Why was it forged?

To shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us. To shatter it as the blow of a rock shatters glass.

How does the sledgehammer of truth shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us?

He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Power and love are the characteristics that best capture the reality of God - perfection in power and perfection in love. His power built paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love.

Why is shattering the illusion important?

Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness). It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

Understand these questions and answers and your understanding of Christianity will exceed the understanding of your peers.

 

The Language of Suffering

The mouth of our God did not reveal his identity to us in the mysterious language of the Trinity. If he did so, he would have been misunderstood. We do not understand the language of the Trinity. The mouth of our God did not reveal his identity to us in the mysterious language of the angels. If he did so, he would have been misunderstood. We do not understand the language of the angels. Our God took flesh to reveal his identity to us unambiguously in the only universal language that survived the the great tongue-twisting of  Babel - the language of suffering. The language of suffering is our native tongue. All creatures who suffer understand it. He used the harsh language of suffering so there would be no misunderstanding. Nobody signs up to dive headfirst or, for that matter, even dip his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the high cost of suffering. All creatures who suffer understand this.  We understand that suffering is a price we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the price because we are extremely dear to Him. Moreover, he paid the price not from his limitless divine resources but from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. From the exorbitant price he paid for us we can deduce our value to him (Matthew 10:29-31).

The infliction of suffering tends to piss its recipient off. It tends to trigger the reflex to revenge, retaliation and retribution. It tends to extinguish the fire of love that burns in the heart. Therefore, when it does not, we bear witness to abnormality. We bear witness to the strange. We bear witness to the paranormal.
 

From the passion, death and resurrection, what truths emerged to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany?

What is the tree that grew out of the toxic soil of the Crucifixion to reveal the identity of God and from which hangs the fruit of our salvation?

 

The Cross of Christ is the flag that the most Holy Trinity raised in the middle of his passion, death and resurrection to rally Christians to the Son of God. Rally 'round the Cross!

In the passion, death and resurrection, the identity of God was revealed to us.

God poured more and better theology into the Cross of Christ than into the heads of every apologist, theologian, Doctor of the Church, apostle, monk, abbot, mystic, priest, monsignor, bishop, Cardinal, Pope, hermit and saint who has ever lived or will ever live.

Get the truth straight from the horse's mouth. Listen first to what the Son of God said about himself from the Cross of Christ before you listen to what others have said about him elsewhere.

 

The Self Portrait

A self-portrait was painted on the canvas of Calvary in the pigments of torture, death and resurrection.

What do you see when you look at the self-portrait?

What truths does the self-portrait disclose to us? 

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Power and love are the characteristics that best capture the reality of God - perfection in power and perfection in love. His power built paradise for us. His love for us, however, makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love. 
  
 We get a sense of the magnitude of his love for sinners by the magnitude of the price he paid out of his own pocket to produce the proof of his love for us. The price was exorbitant. He paid the exorbitant price not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the exorbitant price from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else  (John 15:13). 

We get a sense of the duration of his love for sinners from its indestructibility. His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and ought to have died when we killed him  (Isaiah 55:8-9). But it did not. It survived. Its survival is the proof that the duration of his love for us is forever. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn (Isaiah 55:8-9)  (Psalm 8:4-8).

We get a sense of the uniqueness of his love for sinners from the matrix out of which the flower of the Resurrection emerged. Nothing grows in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. Nothing. So, when something does grow, we behold a miracle. His love for sinners emerged from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. 

Our God is unique. Despite the evil we did to him, he continues to love us nonetheless. What other "god" would tolerate such insolence from his creatures - from the mud he fashioned into life with the fingers of his hands? 
  
  "Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me," 
  (Isaiah 46:9)

 

The Cross is the launching pad from which the rocket of the Resurrection takes off into the night sky to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany .

The price he paid to publish here on earth the magnitude, duration and uniqueness of his love for us was exorbitant. Some say he overpayed - that he was ripped off. We were not worth the payment. He, on the other hand, was willing to pay the price. He thought we were worth it.

The Testimony of the Witnesses

His bloody wounds are the witnesses who testify to the price he paid to publish here on earth the magnitude, duration and uniqueness of his love for us.

 

The Publication of the Sweetness of Paradise

The publication here on earth of the magnitude, duration and uniqueness of his love for us - his autobiography - required the happening of two events:

  1.  We extorted an exorbitant payment from him. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died.  He paid with his life. He paid the extortion not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the extortion from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. Exorbitant, no (John 15:12-13 )?
  2. His heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us - not a drop of his love for us - not a drop - followed his blood through his wounds out of his body. 

Why did publication require the happening of these two events?

The larger the extortion, the more radical and extraordinary is the continuation of his love for us. He did not stop loving us even though we gave him ample justification to stop loving us. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. Wow! How can this be? Who is this God who forgives the evil we did to him?

We know what was published in his passion, death and resurrection. But why was publication necessary? As our proximity to Eden receded in both time and space, we forgot. The sweetness of paradise faded from our memories. Publication was necessary to reacquaint the children of Adam and Eve with the sweetness of paradise.

 

The Mathematics of Divinity

To understand the mathematics of divinity requires that we move beyond whole numbers to fractions. Fractions compare two numbers. The denominator of the divine fraction is that sinners extorted an exorbitant payment from the Son of God. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. He paid with his life. Exorbitant, no ? The numerator of the divine fraction is that he continued to love us nonetheless. He did not stop loving us. His love for sinners is on the top of the fraction. Our extortion of him is on the bottom. Love / Extortion. In non mathematical language, the divine fraction can be expressed as follows: He continued to love sinners nonetheless despite the evil sinners did to him. How many times does the denominator go into the numerator? An infinite number of times. The result is an irrational number  . The intransigency of his love for sinners does not make any sense .

The passion, death and resurrection are the premises that God put into our hands so we could jump to the right conclusions about the identity of God. We make no mistakes when our reasoning starts at the passion, death and resurrection and proceeds from there.

 

Has the Jury Reached a Verdict?

God is on trial.

The issue is the identity of God (not our Catholic identity). What set of characteristics best captures the identity of God? Name them. Put them into words. Articulate the identity of God. Who is God and how do we know him? Is God a misanthrope or a philanthropist?

Many false, inaccurate and conflicting representations of God circulate through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of representations creates confusion.  “This is God” some say as they point to their favorite representation of God.  Others point to a different representation and say, “No, this is God.” The controversy goes on ad infinitum. Because of the confusion about the identity of God, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. The purpose of the trial is to end the controversy - to put an end to the confusion about God. Is ending the confusion about the identity of God important? Familiarity with the identity of God is the game changer. Yes, it is of the utmost importance (John 10:5) (Psalm 69:9) (Exodus 2:22).

What role do we play in the trial? We are the jury. We render the verdict. To us, the evidence is presented to win our consent to a representation of God that best captures the reality of God. The reality of God is approximated by representations that capture it as best they can. The fidelity  of representations of God to the reality of God varies across a spectrum that ranges from low to high. All representations of God are not equal. Most are defective. The defects produce inaccurate versions of God. Inaccurate versions of God produce confusion. In confusion, it is difficult to make the right decision. The power of a representation depends on its fidelity to the reality that it represents. The greater the fidelity, the greater the power. Representations with a high fidelity to the reality that they represent can influence those who come into proximity with them as forcefully as an encounter with the reality itself. In religion, when we capture the reality of God in high fidelity representations, we open portals through which God enters the world. The reality of God enters our world through high fidelity representations. Words can represent the reality of God. Saints as well. So, too, the blood and body of the most Holy Eucharist. The blood and body of the most Holy Eucharist are a perfect representation of the reality of our God. They are God. Their perfection in representation makes the most Holy Eucharist extremely powerful.

Our job as jurors is not easy. What makes our job difficult is that the testimony of the witnesses is in conflict. The conflicting testimony creates an issue of fact. Jurors resolve issues of fact according to the persuasiveness of the evidence. 

The conflict in the testimony has existed since the beginning of humanity. 

The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears (Genesis 3:5). His testimony was the sugarcoating that embellished the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. We have a sweet tooth and the sugarcoating led us astray. God testified that, in the valley of tears, we would die  (Genesis 3:3). No embellishment here.

To resolve future conflicts in the testimony amongst God, the serpent and others, figuring out whether God or the serpent were telling us the truth about deification without God in the valley of tears is important. The best way to figure it out was by letting us stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. The valley of tears sucks.  In the valley of tears, crosses of suffering nail themselves to us including the worst of the crosses, death. Stewing in the valley of tears for a lifetime enables us to reach the verdict that the serpent is a liar and that God told us the truth. The serpent bullshitted us. We do not become Gods without God in the valley of tears. Our harsh experience in the valley of tears immunizes us against the lie of the serpent.  The serpent is defanged. He can never fool us again. By claiming that we can become gods without God in the valley of tears, the serpent earned his reputation as a bullshit artist. God earned his reputation as the teller of truth.

The sourness of godlessness is autodidactic. We know the sourness of godlessness because we are immersed in it. The sweetness of paradise, however, is not autodidactic. For us to know the sweetness of paradise, it must be revealed to us. The sweetness of paradise was revealed to us in his passion, death and resurrection. The sweetness of paradise is the honey that draws the bees back home to the hive. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness). It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our rationality leads us astray. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"  (John 8:32).  The sweetness of paradise pulls us to the entrance of paradise. The sourness of godlessness pushes us to its exit. Jesus straddles the world of godlessness and the world of paradise like a colossus. Through his bloody wounds, we make the great leap from time to eternity (Our Lady of Quito). He is the way (John 14:6)

Since the age of Adam and Eve, the conflict in the testimony has continued . Once again, we are called upon to render a verdict. Hopefully, our first verdict in which we figured out that God has credibility and the serpent has none helps us in judging the credibility of the conflicting witnesses this time around. 

Jesus took the witness stand in the vicinity of the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet called the Middle East more than two thousand years ago. In his passion, death and resurrection, Jesus testified that God is our almighty lover.  Here is his testimony. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Perfection in both power and love were revealed to us in his passion, death and resurrection. Power and love constitute the set of characteristics that best captures the identity of God. His power built paradise. His love for us makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love.

The testimony of other witnesses besides Jesus, however, does not agree. Other witnesses testify against God. The testimony of the other witnesses contradicts the allegation that God is our almighty lover.  The argument goes like this:  If our God were our almighty lover, would he let us suffer so much as we pass through the valley of tears (the problem of evil)? When adversity takes the witness stand, she testifies that God does not exist or that God does not care. The sickness and death of an innocent child testifies that God is our foe not our friend.

There is a cacophony of conflicting testimony.  We are inundated by confusion. We drown in the conflict.

What role does the Church play in the trial of God?  The Church is God's advocate.  His passion, death and resurrection are the most persuasive evidence that proves that God is our almighty lover. The Church's job is to present his passion, death and resurrection to persuade the jury about the identity of God - to persuade the jury that God is our almighty lover.  The presentation of his passion, death and resurrection is the primary means of persuasion.  Furthermore, as advocate for God, the Church is responsible for the cross-examination of the adverse witnesses. Adversity takes the witness stand again and again to testify against God. The testimony of adversity is powerful testimony that contradicts the testimony of his passion, death and resurrection.  The testimony of adversity is highly persuasive.  Yet, from his passion, death and resurrection, we know that adversity is lying about God.  Adversity is not telling the truth (Exodus 20:16).  The job of the Church, therefore, is to demonstrate that adversity is not a proper platform from which to jump to a conclusion about God. Adversity does not give testimony about God. Adversity gives testimony about us. Adversity and how we handle it are the platform from which we jump to touchdown on our identity not the identity of God. 

Reconciliation of the conflicting testimony is not an easy job. It requires a solution to the problem of evil. To reconcile the conflicting testimony, we must look at the big picture. We must familiarize ourselves with God's plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Without an understanding of God's plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears, the conflicting testimony would leave us forever in a state of utter confusion. Here is the evidence that reconciles the conflicting testimony. Here is the solution to the problem of evil.

God did not place us in our dire predicament in the valley of tears. The serpent did. The serpent, not God, is the culprit.  The serpent, not God, is to blame. The only knock against God is that he does not rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears quickly enough. He lets us stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. Why do you wait, O Lord, to rescue us?  Why do you delay (Psalm 70)? Why?

Our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue (Isaiah 55:8-9). We want God to eliminate the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears. God, on the other hand, does not want to eliminate them. God wants us to learn to manage them.  He prefers that we learn to manage adversity. We prefer that he eliminates adversity. There is a difference in opinions. His prevails.

Why does God prefer that we learn to manage adversity instead of eliminating it?

Indeed, the ship of godlessness is sinking. God, however, has no interest in saving the ship. God is only interested in saving the passengers. God has no interest in turning the valley of tears into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants us to run the course and finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7). He wants the grist to go through the mill. God practices a severe pedagogy. He throws us off the pier into the water to teach us how to swim. Sink or swim is the severe pedagogy of our God.

Why such a severe pedagogy?

We receive a benefit from trying to manage adversity - a priceless benefit. When we try to manage adversity, we transform ourselves into God. We achieve deification here on earth.

But, how does God want us to manage adversity? What is the methodology that God wants us to use?

To manage adversity, Jesus brought from heaven to earth "grease" for the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. The "grease" is the technology of applying love to suffering. Love is the tool that mitigates the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. Suffering tends to transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. It robs us of the resemblance we bear to God (Genesis 1:27). We can deny this natural tendency. By holding onto love, we deny ourselves. Love enables us to pick up and carry our crosses (Matthew 16:24). Love turns us into superman. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses.  The Son of God was so confident in the technology of applying love to suffering that he let us impale him on the Cross to demonstrate to us that the technology works. He donned the jetpack and flew to show us that we too can fly. What a crazy daredevil this Jesus was!  When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Only love kicks suffering's ass. Love is our act of defiance. By loving, we point the middle finger at the crosses that nail themselves to us.  When we defy them, we become God - divinization takes place.

Yes, the pedagogy of God is severe.  For the children of Adam and Eve, he inserts a delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise. The delay in his gift-giving is brief. A lifetime no matter how long is an infinitesimally thin slice of time compared to the thickness of eternity. During the delay, we pass through the valley of tears. Our passage through the valley of tears is harsh but effective medicine. God prescribes the harsh medicine because of its effectiveness. When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Eve did and as Adam did. The prodigal son is never going back to the pig sty and neither are we.  We now know better. 

What is the big picture of Christianity? God is trying to procreate. He is trying to reproduce. It's all about making babies. Love is the seed. We are the egg. God is trying to fertilize the egg with love. The Church is the midwife who helps in the birth of "little Gods" who, like children, frolic and play in his kingdom with hearts filled to the brim with love (Matthew 18:2-4).

 

Ground Zero

As our proximity to the age of Eden grew ever more distant in time and space, we lost touch with God. We did not keep him in the loop. He became a stranger to us  (John 10:5). God became an outcast to his kindred, a stranger to his mother’s children  (Psalm 69:9)  (Exodus 2:22). We forgot. God faded from our memories.  
  
To fill the vacuum, many false, inaccurate and conflicting representations of God circulated through the minds of the children of Adam and Eve. The multiplicity of representations created confusion.  “This is God” some said as they pointed to their favorite representation of God.  Others pointed to a different representation and said, “No, this is God.” The controversy went on ad infinitum. 

Because of the confusion about the identity of God, the most Holy Trinity desired to set the record straight once and forever. They decided to clear the air. They decided to reacquaint the children of Adam and Eve with the sweetness of paradise. 
  
To accomplish their purpose, the most Holy Trinity forged the sledgehammer of truth by depositing the Son of God into the furnace of his passion and death. In the furnace of his passion and death, Jesus, the Son of God, became the sledgehammer of truth. He shattered the illusion that hid from us the sweetness of paradise. He shattered the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. His passion, death and resurrection are a rock. On the rock that is his passion, death and resurrection, build your understanding of God. Start building there. Don't start building elsewhere. If you start elsewhere, the risk of getting lost is unavoidable. If you start building on the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears, you may jump to the incorrect conclusion that God is our foe not our friend, that God is aloof or even that God does not exist. His passion, death and resurrection are the foundation for a proper understanding of God.  His passion, death and resurrection are the starting point. They are ground zero.

 

The Appeal of the Truth is to our Faculty of Rationality not to our Faculty of Obedience

The appeal of Christianity is addressed to our faculty of rationality not to our faculty of obedience. Our faculty of obedience is broken and, hence, unreliable. It has been broken since the age of Adam and Eve. Its brokenness is the source of our original and subsequent sins. But God did not stop the execution of his rescue plan to fix our broken faculty of obedience. He did not take a break to make a repair. Why? God has a backup plan. To rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears, all that God needs from us is a Jinba ittai between the truth and our faculty of rationality. God's backup plan is to persuade us through our faculty of rationality to join the new exodus that is making its escape through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our faculty of rationality steers us astray. Therefore, shatter the illusions that hide the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness from us. Shatter them with the sledgehammmer of truth as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. Shatter the illusions that distort our perception of reality. Pick up the rock of truth and throw it at the illusions to shatter them into smithereens. The catylyst of God's rescue plan is the truth. All truth? No, only the subset of truth that pertains to the illusions. Truth that does not pertain to the illusions is irrelevant. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free" .

P.S. Another Jinba ittai worthy of contemplation exists between our hunger and thirst and the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist.

The New Exodus and the New Moses

God built an escape route through the valley of tears , defined it with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and burdened the Church with the mission of serving the new exodus as the new Moses. The mission of the new Moses is logistics - to get the children of Adam and Eve from here to there - from godlessness to paradise. The mission of the new Moses is not to put obstacles in our way that bar our admission to the holy places at which close encounters with the living God take place. The mission of the new Moses is to facilitate our escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul it up. The movement of the new exodus on the escape route forms the needle of the compass that always points to God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be certain that we are heading in the right direction. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The catalyst of the new exodus is the truth. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"  . The truth shatters the illusions that hide the sweetness of paradise and sugarcoat the sourness of godlessness as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our rationality leads us astray. The sooner the Church comes to understand its role the better it will be for the children of Adam and Eve.

 

The valley of tears is hostile territory. The foolish pass through it without God and alone. The wise pass through it with God and in a pack. Our pack is our Church.

 
 

Inextinguishable is His Love for Us

The evil we did to him during the Crucifixion did not extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart nor reduce its intensity by even the slightest degree. He refused to let go of his love for us even though we baptized him in a boiling cauldron of torture and death (Matthew 3:13-15). His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love survived our evil. The intransigency of his love for sinners is the rock on which we build our understanding of God. His passion, death and resurrection are the source of our confidence in him. We are dearly loved by Omnipotence. Our God is our omnipotent lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? He will never disappoint us. He will never let us down. Trust in him (Psalm 27).

 

The Toxic Soil of the Crucifixion

In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, nothing grows. Nothing. It is a barren and inhospitable matrix - arid and unfruitful. So, when something does grow, we behold a miracle. We plowed him into the toxic soil of the Crucifixion with the same insouciance as the farmer who plows manure into a furrow. In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, he sprouted and blossomed into the beautiful flower of the Resurrection. How? The right irrigation remediates the toxicity of the soil. His secret is that he irrigated himself with love. 

 
 

Who is the Star of the Show?

The Church is the usher who shows us to our seats so that God can put on the show. God, not the Church, is the star of the show. The train of salvation goes off the tracks when the ushers think they are the stars of the show.

 
 
 
 

His bloody wounds are the credentials of divinity. A person who claims to be God or to stand in persona Christi is an impostor unless he can show you his credentials. Demand a demonstration from any claimant to divinity of his bloody wounds . Expose the frauds. Bloody wounds earned by loving us are the badges of credibilty - verifications of the magnitude, duration and uniqueness of his love for us. The serpent earned no bloody wounds by loving us. Jesus earned many. Bloody wounds earned by loving us differentiate our God from the serpent.

Some advocate to others to give up their lives for their neighbors. Others give up their lives for their neighbors. Who is more persuasive? Who are the sheep more willing to follow? The pompous blowhard who advocates that which he has not done or the shepherd who has laid down his life for sheep?

Sacrifice, not the laying on of hands, is the only legitimate ordination .

 

As we pass through the valley of tears, we have a choice. We can hang out with God or not. The choice is ours.

The Rule of Survival

Our survival is governed solely by a simple but fundamental principle. Humanity in every place and in every age and of every religion is subject to its command. No exceptions. The rule of survival transcends the boundaries that separate religions here on earth. Only by including God in our lives do we live and only by excluding God from our lives do we die. To include God in our lives in the hereafter, we must include God in our lives now! By excluding God from our lives now, we exclude God from our lives in the hereafter. Take an interest in God and God will take an interest in you. Include God in your life and God will include you in his. Ignore your God and your God will ignore you .

God is Trying to Procreate

What is the big picture of Christianity? God is trying to procreate. He is trying to reproduce. It's all about making babies. Love is the seed. We are the egg. God is trying to fertilize the egg with love. The Church is the midwife who helps in the birth of "little Gods" who, like children, frolic and play in his kingdom with hearts filled to the brim with love .

 
 

Excerpt from 1906 encyclical of Pope Pius X titled “Vehementer Nos“

“The Scripture teaches us, and the tradition of the Fathers confirms the teaching, that the Church is the mystical body of Christ, ruled by the Pastors and Doctors — a society of men containing within its own fold chiefs who have full and perfect powers for ruling, teaching and judging. It follows that the Church is essentially an unequal society, that is, a society comprising two categories of persons, the Pastors and the flock, those who occupy a rank in the different degrees of the hierarchy and the multitude of the faithful. So distinct are these categories that with the pastoral body only rests the necessary right and authority for promoting the end of the society and directing all its members towards that end; the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.

Post Script: This is arrogant bullshit. It reflects a medieval not a modern mindset. It epitomizes the zeitgeist of the Church in a different age. It assumes that the laity have nothing of worth to contribute. It is an anachronism appropriate to a time when the multitude could not read, write or think for themselves. Its arrogance ought to embarass modern day clerics.

The Church has tried to jam doctrine down our throats without our consent by dint of authority. It claims its doctrine is God's doctrine, and, thus, its doctrine carries the official seal of God's approval. Before we learned to read, write and think for ourselves, we docilely swallowed whatever the Church jammed down our throats. Times have changed. In modernity, we have become suspicious and skeptical. Having learned to read, write and think for ourselves, the Church's tactic triggers our gag reflex. We regurgitate any attempt to jam doctrine down our throats without our consent. The command - obedience paradigm no longer works. A new approach, therefore, is needed. The appeal must be to our rationality. We must be persuaded. This dismays the medievalists. It discombobulates them. It makes them apoplectic. The modernists, however, are up for the challenge. In fact, they think an appeal to our rationality is the best way to go.

The Church has all of the Answers but None of the Questions

The Church has all of the answers but none of the questions. The answers belong to the Church but the questions belong to the multitude. What good is a Church with all of the answers and a multitude without any questions? A business with a warehouse full of great merchandise but without any customers is a failure. So, too, a Church. The Church has not paid the proper attention to supply and demand. Too much emphasis has been given to the supply and too little emphasis has been given to the demand. As a result, the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer is dead. The multitude no longer ask life's most important questions. In its misguided effort to raise a docile multitude, the Church has raised a multitude who pass through the valley of tears questionless. Why are we here? Where did we come from? Where are we going? How do we get from here to there - from godlessness to paradise? Who knows the way? Not asked. This is the problem. How do we fix it? How do we inspire curiosity in the multitude about life's most important questions? The first step in the process of conversion is to stimulate the multitude to ask the right questions. Until then, the answers are irrelevant - the magisterium unable to bear any fruit. Now is the time to resuscitate the beautiful, symbiotic dance between question and answer. Now is the time.


 How God Defanged the Serpent

The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears (Genesis 3:5). God testified that without God in the valley of tears we would die (Genesis 3:3). Hence, the conflicting testimony created an unwelcome  controversy that was thrust into the laps of Adam and Eve. They decided to investigate the truth of the conflicting testimony for themselves. Thus, into the valley of tears, they embarked on a fact finding mission.
  
  How did God view their attempt to resolve the conflict in the testimony?  

 "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." (John 8:32).

Supremely confident in the liberating power of the truth, God let them conduct their own investigation. He did not stand in the way. He did not stop them. He was unwilling to turn paradise into a prison, himself into a warden and them into prisoners. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. Nor did he drag them back to paradise against their wills while they kicked and screamed like recalcitrant children. He let their exercise of free will play out. God knew that in the course of their investigation they would learn the truth and the truth would make them free (John 8:32). They would learn the truth the hard way.
 
 To ensure a thorough investigation, God tweaked the timetable for the delivery of his gifts. Between the delivery of the gift of life and the gift of paradise, God inserted a delay. No longer will the two gifts be delivered simultaneously as they were to Adam and Eve. During the delay, the children of Adam and Eve get to know for themselves the truth about the valley of tears. For a lifetime, God lets us stew there. Adam and Eve started in paradise and worked their way into the valley of tears. The children of Adam and Eve would start in the valley of tears and work their way back to paradise.
  
 Is there any better way to convince us that fire is hot than by letting us put our fingers in the flame (Matthew 5: 29-30)? Personal experience with the truth is more persuasive than a plethora of words about it - even when the source of the words is God. So God lets us put our fingers into the flame. The flame is extremely persuasive about the hotness of the fire. So, too, life in the valley of tears is extremely persuasive about its sourness. Godlessness is autodidactic. 

Letting us stew for a lifetime in the valley of tears generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan. The harshness of the valley of tears keeps the complaint department of paradise busy. More than a few have cursed their bitter experience in the valley of tears and waved their fists against God. Put the blame for our dire predicament, however, on the proper culprit. God did not put us in the valley of tears. The serpent did. God started humanity in paradise. At the most, God can be blamed for not extricating us from the valley of tears as quickly as we would like. God's rescue of us is too slow. 'What took you so long?' is our only legitimate complaint against God. 
 
  Our conception of rescue and God's conception of rescue are different. We want God to extricate us from the valley of tears as quickly as possible. Alternatively, we want God to make the valley of tears into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. Indeed, godlessness is a sinking ship. God, however, does not want to save the ship. God wants to save the passengers. Therefore, God has no interest in turning the valley of tears into a better, more hospitable place for godlessness people to live. Nor does God plan our immediate extrication from the valley of tears. God thinks it important that we complete our passage through the valley of tears.  He wants us to run the course and finish the race (2 Timothy 4:7).  He wants the grist to go through the mill. God practices a severe pedagogy [but offers us tools to mitigate its harshness.]


 Letting us put our fingers in the flame is harsh but effective medicine. God weighed the effectiveness of the medicine against its harshness and came to the conclusion that the benefit of the medicine justifies its cost. So God prescribes a lifetime in the valley of tears.  [Note: God also has taken steps to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. For instance, God limits the delay between the gift of life and the gift of paradise to no longer than a lifetime. A lifetime - no matter how long - is an infinitesimally thin slice of time in comparison to the thickness of eternity.]

  The medicine is harsh because, in the valley of tears, the flame burns our fingers. The valley of tears is hostile territory. As we pass through it, we get nailed to terrible crosses including the most terrible of crosses, death. None of us escapes them - not even the rich man whose riches barely keep the crosses temporarily at bay (Matthew 19:24-26) . 

  The medicine is effective because it defangs the serpent. It drains from the serpent's lie its power to deceive. We learn that we do not become "gods" during our passage through the valley of tears. We learn for ourselves that the serpent bullshitted us. Our passage through the valley of tears shatters the illusion conjured up by the serpent that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. The sugarcoating of godhood with which the serpent embellished a life lived without God in the valley of tears crumbles before our eyes. We realize we were duped. We gave up everything for nothing. Our passage through the valley of tears destroys our gullibility. It makes us cynical, skeptical and suspicious of strangers with whom we have no track-record who promise us godhood in exchange for abandoning God. 

Now, when the period of delay has run its course and God delivers the gift of paradise to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Lucifer did, as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did, as Adam did and as Eve did. Like the prodigal son, we will never return to the pig sty. We know better. The serpent's words are now contrary to our experience. The serpent's words no longer have the power to deceive us. The serpent is defanged.  The solution that God applied to resolve the conflict in the testimony cut off the serpent's balls. God neutered him. He cannot reproduce the mischief he caused Adam and Eve in the children of Adam and Eve. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free  (John 8:32)." Our experience in the valley of tears shatters the illusion that distorts our perception of reality as the blow of a hammer shatters glass.

 
 

We know that God is our almighty lover because he revealed this to us in his passion, death and resurrection. The witness of adversity, therefore, must be a liar. When we jump from the testimony of adversity we are touching down on an inaccurate understanding of God.

What is the top priority of religion?

Is 25% Too Much to Ask?

God is not dead. Indeed, God is very much alive. However, the conversation about God is dead. Killing the conversation about God is tantamount to killing God. The enemies of the Church know this. The Church does not. The Church labors under the assumption that we already have an understanding of God. And, therefore, it is free to move on to other things such as morality. The assumption, however, is incorrect. The Church has jumped the gun. We do not yet have an understanding of God. God is a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger . As a direct and proximate result of God being elbowed out of the conversation, the escape from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land is sputtering and stalling. Fewer and fewer are going to Mass. None are going to Confession. Marriages are falling apart. Mothers are murdering their babies. The priesthood is going extinct The trend is downward and accelerating. The only sacrament holding its own is the sacrament of extreme unction and this is so only because the dying have little choice. The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying. The torch that illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God is his passion, death and resurrection. His passion, death and resurrection illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. The first priority of religion is illuminating the darkness of our understanding of God. Everything else is secondary. Illuminating the darkness of our understanding of God is the foundation of evangelization. Get the foundation right and everything falls into place. Get the foundation wrong and everything falls apart. Therefore, it is time to stop squandering the conversation. It is time to change the ratio of the content of the conversation to more foundation and less roof. More pizzazz; less nitty-gritty. More Mary; less Martha. More revelation; less regulation. More God; less Church. No change in doctrine; just a change in emphasis - a tweak, nothing more. Can we stop excluding God from the conversation? Can we devote at least 25% of the conversation to God? Is 25% too much to ask?

When I jump from the rock of his passion, death and resurrection, my understanding of God touches down on God as our almighty lover. His passion, death and resurrection tell me unequivocally that God is our almighty lover.

From where do you jump to reach an understanding of God and on what do you land when you touch down? In travelling to an understanding of God, what is you origin, path, and destination? How do you get there from here?

The reality of God is transmitted to us by depositing it into vessels. We acquire an understanding of God only by drinking from the vessels. The reality of God is approximated by the vessels as best they can. Their fidelity to the reality of God varies across a spectrum that ranges from low to high. They are not identical. Most versions are defective. The defects produce innacurate versions of God.

A chest was fabricated here on earth from the materials of his passion, death and resurrection into which the most Holy Trinity deposited heaven's most precious treasure as their gift to us.

His passion, death and resurrection served as the vessel into which Jesus was poured and from which we drink to get a high fidelity representation of God .

His passion, death and resurrection are the rock on which we build our understanding of God . Pick up the rock and throw it through the illusion that hides from us the sweetness of paradise to shatter it as a rock shatters glass.

Christ has no body but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
Compassion on this world,
Yours are the feet with which he walks to do good,
Yours are the hands, with which he blesses all the world.
Yours are the hands, yours are the feet,
Yours are the eyes, you are his body.
Christ has no body now but yours,
No hands, no feet on earth but yours,
Yours are the eyes with which he looks
compassion on this world.
Christ has no body now on earth but yours.
— Teresa of Ávila

The autobiography of God was published by the most Holy Trinity here on earth to put into our hands a fair and accurate representation of God - an authentic, first-class, high fidelity representation of God. Its high fidelity is unmatched by the low fidelity representations of God made by human hands. In fact, the low fidelity of human made representations is the reason God banned us from making them in the first place . Better no representation than an inaccurate representation.  All lesser representations of God, therefore, must yield to the representation God gave us in his autobiography. Have you read it? Are you not curious about what God said about himself?

His Passion Death and Resurrection

What was forged in the furnace of his passion, death and resurrection?

What was painted on the canvas of Calvary in the pigments of his passion, death and resurrection?

What was written on the blank page of Calvary in the ink of his passion, death and resurrection?

In short, what does his passion, death and resurrection tell us about God?

Does his passion, death and resurrection reveal anything about God? Or does it reveal everything?

If you cannot articulate an answer to the questions, your understanding of God is built on sand. The big, bad wolf will huff and puff and blow your house down . God has become a stranger to you . You have spent too much of your time, effort and energy on the secondary aspects of Christianity and not enough time, effort and energy on cultivating an understanding of God. His passion, death and resurrection are the rock on which we build our understanding of God. The jump to an understanding of God is made from the rock of his passion, death an resurrection. It is not made from anywhere else. Isn't it time you climb onto the rock of his passion, death and resurrection and make the jump to an understanding of God?

The message that God conveyed to us about himself in his passion, death and resurrection is unambigous. It is not equivocal. It is not namby-pamby or wishy-washy. His passion, death and resurrection give us a definitive, high fidelity representation of God. We learn from his passion, death and resurrection that Jesus is our almighty lover. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Perfection in power and perfection in love were revealed to us in the passion, death and resurrection of our Savior, Jesus Christ.

Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Our almighty lover will never disappoint us. He will never let us down.

Love is sacrifice. It is a willingness to pay out of one's own pocket the costs for the production of benefits that accrue, not to us, but to others. Love is picking up the tab for others. Your God picked up the tab for you. He paid a king's ransom for you. Your God paid for the costs of a benefit that accrues to you. The benefit is a proper understanding of God. He passed through the furnace of his passion, death and resurrection to give you a proper understanding of God. Why? Everything hinges on a proper understanding of God. Everything depends on it. He paid the exorbitant cost of producing the revelation of his identity out of his own pocket. He paid the cost not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the cost from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. Has anyone else ever paid a ransom for you? Has anyone else picked up your tab? Some say he was ripped off - that he paid too much. His willingness to overpay for us ought to be the source of our high degree of confidence in him. Trust in him. His passion, death and resurrection give us reason to do so.

God is trying to Reproduce!

What is the big picture of Christianity? God is trying to procreate. He is trying to reproduce. It's all about making babies. Love is the seed. We are the egg. God is trying to fertilize the egg with love. The Church is the midwife who helps in the birth of "little Gods" who play in his kingdom with hearts filled to the brim with love.

The Miracle God Prefers is to Change The Person not the Circumstances

The pedagogy of God is severe. The valley of tears is hostile territory. In the valley of tears, our predicament is dire. We stew in the valley of tears for a lifetime. Our dire predicament in the valley of tears provokes screams for rescue. Rescue us, Oh Lord! His conception of rescue, however, is different than our conception of rescue. God prefers the "little rescues" that transform us than the "big rescue" that transforms our circumstances. He prefers that we learn to manage adversity. We prefer that he eliminates adversity. There is a difference in opinions. His prevails. Instead of calming the storm , he lets the storm rage. Without the storm, we would have no challenge to overcome. To rescue us, he tosses to us life preservers of love. He desires that we cling to them with the iron grip of the drowning man who clings to a life preserver in the stormy sea after his ship is sunk. Tossing us life preservers of love while the storm is raging is his method of salvation. Without them, the ride through the valley of tears is rough - extraordinarily rough. Therefore, pray for the rescue that God wants to give you. Pray not for the end of the storm but for a life preserver of love and the strength to hold on to it. Grab hold of it. Your salvation depends on grabbing hold of it. Ride out the storm by clinging to a life preserver of love!

To shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us, the most Holy Smith forged the sledgehammer of truth by depositing the Son of God into the fire of his passion, death and resurrection.

The valley of tears is hostile territory  . Our predicament in the valley of tears is dire. Our paranoia is real not pathological. Our enemies lurk in every nook and cranny of the valley of tears waiting to nail us to a cross including the most terrible of crosses, death [Praised be You, my Lord through Sister Death, from whom no-one living can escape. Woe to those who die in mortal sin! Blessed are they She finds doing Your Will.  ]. The wise have picked up the roots they had sunk into the toxic soil of the valley of tears. They have become pilgrims passing through it instead of settlers roosting in it. As they move forward, they look forward not back . They are trying to make their escape through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Who has the map and knows the way?

Mobility, not sessility, is the mark of a Christian. Christians are making their escape through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. A new exodus is in progress served by the new Moses, the Church. The Church is the servant of the escape.

The Role that God Assigned the Church to Play in the Execution of his Plan to Rescue Us from our Dire Predicament in the Valley of Tears

It is important for the sake of the children of Adam and Eve for the Church to understand the role that God assigned it to play in the execution of his plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. The Church is not a Papal led army sent by God to subjugate us into slavish submission to doctrine against our wills and without our consent [ cf. "Roma locuta; causa finita est," or "...the one duty of the multitude is to allow themselves to be led, and, like a docile flock, to follow the Pastors.]. Ideological rape is not the business of the Church. The business of the Church is to win our consent in advance of the insemination of doctrine . Winning our consent is the challenge for the Church. It has always been and will always be the challenge for the Church. God could have dragged us back to paradise himself by dint of his power while we kicked and screamed like recalcitrant children if God deemed doing so was the best solution to end our dire predicament in the valley of tears. But, salvation is about persuasion not power. The appeal is to our rationality not to our docility. God respects our sovereignty and will not trespass against it. Our God desires to free us from slavery under the yoke of Pharoah. He does not want to substitute one type of slavery for another. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. God invites us to a life of freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land . The Church plays a unique role in God's solution to end our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Its role does not mimic the role played by any other human institution. The Church is not a government or an NGO. The serpent distorted our perception of reality. The bitter, he made sweet and the sweet, bitter . He conjured up an illusion that sugarcoated the sourness of the valley of tears. The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears . His testimony was the sugarcoating that embellished the valley of tears. Moreover, as our proximity to Eden receded in both time and space, a secondary illusion arose that hid the sweetness of paradise from us. We forgot. The sweetness of paradise faded from our minds. Therefore, salvation from our dire predicament in the valley of tears requires that the illusions be shattered. The Church is the shatterer of illusions. The Church takes up the sledgehammer of truth and shatters the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our rationality leads us astray. When the illusions are shattered, our rationality kicks in. We seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. We pick up the roots that we planted in the toxic soil of the valley of tears and become pilgrims passing through it instead of settlers roosting in it. The catalyst of the new exodus is the truth. "And ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free"   .

After the illusions are shattered, the Church becomes a matchmaker - a shadchan. It introduces us to God and God to us at the holy places that define the escape route on which the new exodus travels from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land.

The Lord is shouting at us, 'Take hold of the life preserver of love. Take hold of it. It will sustain you as you pass through the valley of tears.'

Divinization by Defiance

Christianity is not for wimps

The valley of tears is hostile territory. Our enemies lurk in every nook and cranny of the valley of tears waiting to nail us to a cross including the most terrible of crosses, death. As we pass through the valley of tears, we pass through an inferno . Yet, our God, allegedly our almighty lover, does not extinguish the fire. Nor does he extract us from it. Nor does he lower its heat. Our God watches us burn in the flames (and burned with us on Golgotha). He wants us to run the course and finish the race despite the savage hostility of our circumstances.

Why?

Doesn't the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears suggest that our God is our foe instead of our friend - that, perhaps, God does not even exist? Yes. Indeed, it does. That is the implication. But only to those who are ignorant of his rescue plan. The serpent delights at our dire predicament in the valley of tears. God, our almighty lover, does not. The serpent cooperated with us to put us into the valley of tears. God, our almighty lover, lets us stew in the valley of tears but for no longer than a lifetime in order to transform us into God - to divinize us.

God's conception of rescue is different than our conception of rescue The ship of godlessness is sinking. We want God to save the ship. But God only wants to save the passengers. He has no interest in saving the ship. His only interest is in saving the passengers. To save the passangers, he hands out life preservers of love. Life preservers of love are his method of salvation. But, it is up to us to grab hold of them. Our salvation depends on grabbing hold of them.

The pedagogy of the valley of tears is severe. We struggle mightily against grabbing hold of the life preserver of love. We rebel against our own salvation. We would rather drown than rescue ourselves. We harbor within us a natural, animalistic instinct that instructs us to let love slip through our fingers in moments of adversity. When our enemies nail us to our crosses, the experience tends to transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. But, by letting evil strip us of love, evil strips us of any resemblance that we bear to God. Refusing to grab hold of the life preserver of love is contrary to our self-interest. It is self-destructive. It is suicidal.

God does not want our crosses to interfere with our progress back to our home with him in paradise. He does not want our crosses to stop us dead in our tracks in the middle of hostile territory. He wants us to pick up our crosses and carry them as the United States Marines raised the United States flag atop Mount Suribachi during the Battle of Iwo Jima in World War II. There is one way and one way alone to pick up and carry our crosses. We need to deny ourselves. We need to deny our natural, animalistic instinct that instructs us to loosen our grip on love. Only love enables us to deny this perverse animalistic instinct. Therefore, the most Holy Trinity sent us the Son of God to show us how to grease the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. At Calvary, he put on a demonstration of love - he clung to love, held tight and refused to let go - to show us that the technology of applying love to our crosses works. On the Cross, he showed us that it is possible to to deny our natural, animalistic instinct to fumble the ball of love The passage through the valley of tears is God's challenge to us to manifest Christian heroism. God wants us to defy the fire. The only way to defy the fire is by loving our way through it. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love is our act of defiance. By loving, we point the middle finger at the fire. When we defy the fire, we become God - divinization takes place.

The Cross is the beacon that the most Holy Trinity lit on the hill of Golgotha to guide pilgrims as we pass through the valley of tears .

What was written on the blank page of Calvary in the ink of torture, death and resurrection?

The autobiography of God was written on the blank page of Calvary in the ink of torture, death and resurrection.

The message of the autobiography is conveyed by the ink. What is the ink trying to tell you about God?

Rest your head on the pillow of the Cross of Christ to sleep the sleep of the angels.

The Cross of Christ is not Well Understood in Christianity

Jesus impaled bloody and alive like a worm on a hook hangs from the Cross of Christ. He is the bait that the most Holy Trinity cast into the valley of tears to fish for the children of Adam and Eve .  The Cross is the crossroads of salvation . All roads lead to the Cross.

However, the Cross is not well understood in Christianity.

The Cross holds three gallons of information. Unfortunately, many who contemplate the Cross have only a one gallon tank. A one gallon tank cannot handle three gallons of information. Therefore, to understand the Cross, it is first necessary to expand your capacity threefold - thrice like the Trinity.

One gallon of information is held in the Crucifixion on the near side of the Cross.

One gallon of information is held in the Resurrection on the far side of the Cross.

One gallon of information is held in the relationship of question and answer that weaves its way through his bloody wounds to connect the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the greatest conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God!

Are you privy to the conversation?

The Crucifixion and the Resurrection are not independent, unrelated events. They are two parts of a conversation. The Crucifixion was our question to him. The Resurrection was his answer to us.

What exactly did we ask him in our question?

What exactly did he say to us in his answer?

Are you not curious?

Listen to the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Listen closely. Attend to its words. Incline thy ear to them . The conversation was meant to be overheard. Eavesdrop on it. The conversation was meant for you. God deposited a fair and accurate representation of himself into the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The conversation is the chest that holds heaven's most precious treasure. It shatters the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us as the blow of a hammer shatters glass.

What is the greatest mistake that the interpreters of Christianity have made to date? What is their greatest error?

Is the Cross of Christ an invitation from Jesus to us to suffer with him or to cling as he clung to love? Too many mistakenly think and teach that the Cross of Christ is about suffering. It is not. It is about loving. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from our crosses. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Jesus transported from heaven to earth the technology of applying love to the crosses that nail themselves to us as we pass through the valley of tears. Moreover, he is so confident in the efficacy of the technology that he demonstrated that the technology works by hanging from his Cross himself. He donned the jet pack and flew to show us that we, too, can fly. With love, we can pick up our crosses and carry them so we can continue to proceed uninterrupted on our way to the promised land with God and his holy family. Without love, our crosses plant us in the toxic soil of the valley of tears. Our God is not a sadist who delights in doing evil to us. Don't confuse our God, our almighty lover, with the malignant serpent. The serpent is the sadist who delights in our suffering. Our God is a philanthropist not a sadist. The Cross of Christ is not the Son of God's recommendation or invitation to suffer. It is his recommendation to love. By filling our hearts to the brim with love, we fill up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ . We imitate Jesus so others may be inspired to imitate him as well.

The sheep know the shepherd by his bloody wounds. By his bloody wounds, they know him . His bloody wounds are the mouth of God. When we opened bloody wounds in his body with lash, thorns, nails and spear, we opened the mouth of the Son of God so he could preach the good news of great joy to us. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" . The mouth of God has a distinctive voice. The voice of the mouth of God testifies about the sacrifice of the shepherd for his sheep - that the shepherd gave up his life for his sheep . Listen to the voice of the mouth of God. Listen to its testimony. Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds.

"How did you get those wounds?"

"The creatures I brought to life from the mud with the fingers of my hands did this to me with the very hands I fashioned for them. Do you not see the irony of the hands?"

"And what evil did you do to them in return for the evil that they did to you?"

"They tortured and killed me. I suffered and died. Yet, I rose from the dead still alive and still in love with them. My love for them survived the evil they did to me. Can I do evil to creatures whom I love?"

Do you want to learn the identity of God? Read his Autobiography. Do you want an answer to the question, "Who is God?". Read his Autobiography.

The identity of Jesus was revealed to us in his passion, death and resurrection. We learn from his passion, death and resurrection that Jesus is our almighty lover. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. Perfection in power and perfection in love were revealed to us in his passion, death and resurrection. Rejoice and be glad because our God is head over heels in love with us. . His passion, death and resurrection demonstrate conclusively that his love for us is not counterfeit. If his love for us were counterfeit, it would have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. Survival proves his love for us is real. Reality is dependable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us . His love for us is the rock on which the wise build their understanding of God . Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid? Our almighty lover will never disappoint us. He will never let us down. He personally paid the cost out of his own pocket to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Has anyone else ever paid a ransom for you? Love is sacrifice. It is a willingness to pay out of our own pockets the costs for the production of benefits that accrue, not to us, but to others. Love is picking up the tab for others. He picked up the tab for you. Trust in him.

His power made paradise. However, his love for us makes paradise sweet. His love for us is the honey that draws the bees back home to the hive. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness). It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

Asymmetry in Response to Evil is the Mark of a Christian

Jesus called for asymmetry in our response to evil . Why? The gospel of irrationality has no appeal to rational creatures. Surely, it is not reasonable to expect rational creatures to swallow this irrational recomendation uncritically hook, line and sinker. Is there some explanation for this seemingly irrational recommendation to bestow a boon on evildoers who try to nail us to a cross? Asymmetry in response to evil does not just benefit our enemies who try to nail us to a cross. Asymmetry in response to evil benefits us as well. Shakespeare hit the nail on the head in The Merchant Of Venice Act 4, Scene 1 when Portia said, "The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." For your own sake, love your enemies. Do it for yourself not for them. Asymmetry in response to evil is the mark of a Christian. God elevated us to a level above the beasts . Evil attempts to knock us off the exalted level onto which God elevated us. It tries to reduce us from the level of God to the level of the beast - into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beast. Resist. Defy your natural, animalistic tendency to let love slip through your fingers in moments of adversity. Cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. By loving our enemies despite the evil they do to us, we maintain the resemblance that we bear to God . When we refuse to let evil poke a hole in our hearts and drain them of love, we distinguish ourselves as godlike instead of beastlike. The only thing that keeps us elevated above the beasts is love. Love is the source of our bouyancy. Without love, we descend, like a deflating balloon, from the level of God to the level of the beasts.

Lightening the Load

Love makes our crosses lighter. Love gives our crosses wings. "If a person bears great love in himself, this love gives him wings, as it were, and he can face all life’s troubles more easily because he carries in himself this great light; this is faith: being loved by God and letting oneself be loved by God in Jesus Christ. Letting oneself be loved in this way is the light that helps us to bear our daily burden." .

The Yardstick of Love

The valley of tears is hostile territory. As we pass through it, crosses of suffering try to nail themselves to us. Is there anything worse than being nailed to a cross of suffering? Yes. Letting a cross of suffering poke a hole in our hearts and drain them of love is much worse. Our success and our failure in life is measured by the yardstick of love . As we pass through the valley of tears, our circumstances can transform us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. Or we can cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go as Jesus did as he hung from his cross. We can hang as Jesus hung by clinging as Jesus clung. When we cling as Jesus clung to love, we maintain the resemblance we bear to God . We can resist our circumstances. We can defy them. We can fight back. The choice is ours.

The weapon of resistance is love

He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours.

When you Hang as Jesus hung,
cling as Jesus clung,
love as Jesus loved.
Hold tight and refuse to let go
of love, suffering's invincible foe.


Love kicks suffering's ass.

Love is the grease that lubricates the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears.

How do we measure the magnitude of his love for sinners?

How do we measure the duration of his love for sinners?

How do we measure the uniqueness of his love for sinners?

The Cross of Christ revealed the identity of Jesus to be our almighty lover. Who are you, Lord? I am your almighty lover. But, don't take my word for it. Believe it not because I say I am your almighty lover. Believe it because I painted my self-portrait on the canvas of Cavalry in the pigments of torture, death and resurrection. Believe it because I put in your hands the irrefutable proof of my power and my love for you. My love for you survived the evil you did to me. It did not fade as you tortured me and did not die when you killed me. If this does not persuade you that I am your almighty lover, nothing can or will.

The economy of paradise is based on the currency of love. With ordinary currency, the more we spend, the poorer we get. It is a paradox, but, by spending the currency of love, we grow rich. The more we spend, the richer we get. The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to introduce us to the currency of love and to establish the economy of paradise here and now upon the earth.

How Jesus Raised the Upper Limit of Love

Love is more than an emotion. Love is sacrifice. It is a willingness to pay out of our own pockets the costs for the production of benefits that accrue, not to us, but to others. Love is picking up the tab for others. Love can be measured. To measure love, we need data from the answers to two questions. Whom do we love? How much are we willing to pay? Is the scope of our love narrow or broad? Whom do we include in and whom do we exclude from the scope of our love? Is the amount we are willing to pay small or large? Are we generous or parsimonious with our payment? Perfection in love is approached in two ways: 1) as we broaden the scope of our love and 2) as we increase the amount we are willing to pay. Conventional wisdom tells us that the scope of love includes "the natural objects of one's bounty". It is not unusual for a mother to pick up the tab for her child . A husband often picks up the tab for his wife and vice versa. But on rare occasions the scope of love expands beyond "the natural objects of one's bounty". The good Samaritan is celebrated for expanding the scope of his love. He picked up the tab for a stranger in distress. The expansion of the scope of love by the good Samaritan was a breakthrough in the science of love. The good Samaritan raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love. When it was Jesus's turn, he raised the bar even higher. Jesus addressed both the scope and the price of love. Jesus taught, "Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends." . In his proclamation on the perfection of love, Jesus called for the payment of an extraordinarily steep price! Perfection in love requires the payment of our most precious possession - our very lives. We must pick up the tab for others even if the payment requires that which is most dear to us . Yet, in his proclamation on the perfection of love, Jesus limits the scope to friends. But don't be misled by the words. In Jesus's proclamation on the perfection of love, he was merely articulating the conventional wisdom on the upper limit of love. Jesus, however, planned to show us that the conventional wisdom was wrong. The conventional wisdom got the price right for the perfection of love but the scope wrong. Jesus was about to push the envelope. He was about to raise the bar that marks the upper limit of love far higher than the Good Samaritan did. He would show us a love that is more radical - more extreme - than laying down one's life for our friends. How so? Jesus laid down his life for his enemies. Jesus picked up the tab for us, the very sinners who tortured and murdered him . Wow! How radical is such love! How extreme! Is no one, not even our enemies, excluded from the scope of our love? In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love . Jesus called for asymmetry in our response to evil not just to benefit our enemies who nail us to our crosses. Loving our enemies benefits us as well as them. Shakespeare hit the nail on the head in The Merchant Of Venice Act 4, Scene 1 when Portia said, 'The quality of mercy is not strain'd, It droppeth as the gentle rain from heaven Upon the place beneath. It is twice blest: It blesseth him that gives and him that takes.' For your own sake, love your enemies. Do it for yourself not for them. Asymmetry in response to evil is the mark of a Christian. It is how a Christian protects himself from his crosses. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love mitigates the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. Jesus did not just deliver the technology of loving our way through the valley of tears. He was not just a delivery boy. He was the owner and inventor and promoter of the technology. His passion and death on the Cross were an advertisement promoting his technology of applying love to our crosses. He was so confident in the efficacy of the technology that he demonstrated that it works by using it himself. He donned the jetpack himself and flew to show us that we, too, can fly! He led the way. Follow him.

Love is the Catalyst

To coax the seed of the Resurrection to blossom into a flower from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, water it with love.

Verification

The most Holy Trinity sent us a love note. It arrived at Bethlehem more than two thousand years ago in a region of our planet known as the Middle East. It was a most extraordinary love note - it lived and breathed. The most Holy Trinity also delivered to us verification of the genuineness of the love note. The verification was written by the Word of God in his own hand on the blank page of revelation in the ink of torture, death and resurrection. The ink is the verification. The ink certifies the authenticity of the love note. The love note alone was not enough. A portrait without provenance may be forgery. Provenance authenticates a protrait. His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and died when we killed him. But it did not. His love for us survived. That his love for us survived the evil we did to him is the verification of the love note. Verification of the love note is the basis for our confidence in him. It is the foundation upon which we build our understanding of God. His love for us is real. Reality is reliable. We can depend on the reality of his love for us . Will our almighty lover ever let us down? Will he ever disappoint? Rest in his love. Rest your head on the pillow of his love for us. The pillow of his love for us is the rock on which the wise build their house . His love for us is the source of our certain hope that, when the time is ripe, he will rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Remember that we are on his schedule not ours. He sets the time of our rescue; we do not.

What is the purpose of this website?

"... SO THAT THE CROSS OF CHRIST MIGHT NOT BE EMPTIED OF ITS MEANING"

The Cross of Christ is the sweet fountain of truth that sprung from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion . Two truths about God gushed from the holy fountainhead. The two truths revealed the identity of Jesus. In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive revealed the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. You are thirsty. Quench your thirst from the sweet fountain of truth .  Jesus thirsts for the same truths from us . Quench his thirst as well as your own. Follow him .

His power built paradise. His love for us makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love.

Our Passage Through His Bloody Wounds

When our evil opened bloody wounds in the body of Christ, a telescope was built that pierces the veil between heaven and earth. Many do not appreciate the fact that his bloody wounds are a telescope. Nearsighted, they only look at his bloody wounds not through them. Their perspective is limited to the near side of the Cross. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, however, cannot be understood without looking through his bloody wounds - from the near side of the Cross to its far side. The farsighted are astonomers who boldly peer through the bloody wounds to the far side of the Cross. Into which category of Christian do you fall? When we look through the telescope of his bloody wounds to the far side of the Cross, we catch a glimpse of paradise from here on earth. We see that his most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Buckets of his blood spilled through his wounds from his body. But, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds. Our salvation passes through his bloody wounds. The great leap from time to eternity   is made through his bloody wounds. The wormhole from here to there passes through his bloody wounds. The journey starts on the near side of the Cross, passes through his bloody wounds and finishes on the far side of the Cross with God and his holy family in paradise.

The Vessels that Hold Heaven's Most Precious Treasure

The Most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth and deposited him into two vessels to give us a fair and accurate representation of God. His deposit into them ignites the insights that illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God. The vessels hold messages. His deposit into them is the engine that powers the transmission of the message. No engine; no transmission. The first deposit was into the Cross of Christ. The first deposit initiated the revelation. In the first deposit, the identity of God was revealed to us. We learn from the Cross of Christ that God is our almighty lover. The second deposit is into the bread and wine of the Most Holy Eucharist. The second deposit is repeated over and over again whenever a priest says a Mass. The vessel changed from cross to bread and wine to affirm that the revelation of the identity of Jesus as our almighty lover is as important to us as eating and drinking - absolutely essential for living. The revelation is our food and drink. The two vessels are chests that hold heaven's most precious treasure. Open them and familiarize yourself with their content. Get acquainted with our almighty lover. Make room for him in your house. His power built paradise. His love for us makes paradise sweet. Power demands respect but love demands love. Our almighty lover is the honey that draws rational creatures back home to the hive. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise.

Why Body and Blood?

Why body and blood? Why deposit these two parts of himself into the vessels of bread and wine to carry his real presence to us in the most Holy Eucharist ? Why not deposit neck and nose into the bread and wine instead of body and blood? Why not toe and tongue? Why not only one part of his body? Why not more than two parts of his body?

Does what he deposited even matter?

Assume that the almighty God could deposit any part or parts of himself into the vessels of bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist, why did he pick his body and his blood? Did he pick his body and his blood intentionally for some specific purpose? Or was the deposit of body and blood random, accidental, arbitrary and capricious?

He deposited his body and blood into the bread and wine of the most Holy Eucharist because his blood and his body point us to his wounds. His bloody wounds are the mouth of God. The good news of great joy was preached to us through his bloody wounds. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" . Witness the truth by watching the traffic through his bloody wounds. Through the wounds that our evil opened, buckets of blood poured from his body. On a cataract of blood, his most precious possession - that which is most dear to all of us - his very life itself was carried through his wounds out of his body. Yet, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed his blood through his wounds out of his body. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us.



19 And he took bread, and gave thanks, and brake it, and gave unto them, saying, This is my body which is given for you: this do in remembrance of me.

20 Likewise also the cup after supper, saying, This cup is the new testament in my blood, which is shed for you.

Do you make room for God in your lives?

Ending the Estrangement

The problem is that God has become a stranger to us . God is an outcast to his kindred, a stranger to his mother’s children . We do not make room for God in our lives. Solve this problem first. Nothing else can be accomplished until God becomes familiar to us once again - until God takes his rightful place as a member of our family once again.

How?

God deposited a fair and accurate representation of himself into the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the chest that holds heaven's most precious treasure. To evangelize, open the treasure chest and expose them to the treasure.

The Foundation of Evangelization

Is it reasonable to expect success in getting people to behave in accordance with a standard of good behavior promulgated by the Church, if they do not make room for God in their lives? Why would the godless take the bit of Church sponsored morality into their mouths, the bridle of morality onto their heads and the reins of morality into their hands? Expecting the godless to do so doesn't make any sense. You cannot put the roof on a house without first building the foundation. Likewise, nothing is possible without first convincing them to make room for God in their lives. It is the foundation for evangelization. Get the foundation right and everything else falls into place. Get the foundation wrong and everything else falls apart.

Make Room! Make Room for God in your lives! Make Room!

Of the primary sources of knowledge about God, which is the most accurate, the most informative, and the most important?

What is the great firewall of God and what does it separate?

The Great Firewall of God

We are the tillers of the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. We practice an austere and hostile agronomy. We plowed him into the toxic soil of the Crucifixion with the same insouciance as the farmer who plows manure into a furrow.

Why? Why did the most Holy Trinity permit this to happen? Why did the most Holy Trinity allow us to plant the seed of divinity in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion?

The most Holy Trinity wanted us to discover for ourselves an insight that illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God. They wanted us to experience a glorious burst of epiphany about the identity of God. They wanted us to know our God. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the primary and most accurate source for knowledge about our God.

In the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, we tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Into the black hole of death, we roughly stuffed him, wiped his blood from our hands and wished him good riddance. Yet, this was not the end of the story. This was only its beginning. He emerged from the dead sill alive and still in love with us. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. That he did not stay dead is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he did not stop loving us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love .

When the seed of divinity blossomed into the flower of the Resurrection from the toxic soil of Crucifixion, we discovered the firewall. Between the evil we did to him and his love for us, sits a firewall. It is a great abyss that blocks the road on which evil ordinarily travels. It stopped our evil dead in its tracks. It made it impossible for our evil to reach and extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his Most Sacred heart or reduce it by even the slightest degree. The firewall is insulation that disconnected his love for us from the evil we did to him. The firewall disconnected the fuse from the bomb. When the fuse is lit the bomb ordinarilly explodes. Not so with our God. Not so.

The most Holy Trinity let the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection take place so we would get a sense of their love for us. This knowledge transforms us. Planting the seed of divinity into the toxic soil of the Crucifixion remediates the toxicity of the tillers of the soil.

Extrapolation

Extrapolation is the assertion that a connection ties point A and point B together - that a way exists from here to there and that no barrier stands in it. In religion, extrapolation has the property of direction. Our extrapolations can take us up or take us down. We extrapolate up to an insight that illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God. We extrapolate down to a rule or regulation that govern us. Always extrapolate up before extrapolating down. First enlighten us before trying to govern us. Revelation before regulation. It is a blunder of no small significance to extrapolate down before extrapolating up. Religion is more interesting when the extrapolation is up instead of down. In which direction do you tend to extrapolate - up or down? Are you even aware that extrapolation can proceed in either of two directions?

The Conversation

The relationship of question and answer passes from the Cruxifixion, through his bloody wounds, to the Resurrection. It ties the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation. The Crucifixion is the question. The Resurrection is the answer. The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection illuminates the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany.

Disclosing the Identity of God

The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the process designed by the most Holy Trinity to reveal the identity of God to us. It produced for us a fair and accurate representation of God - an authentic, first-class, high fidelity representation of God. Its high fidelity is unmatched by the low fidelity representations of God made by human hands. In fact, the low fidelity of human made representations is the reason God banned us from making them in the first place . Better no representation than an inaccurate representation.  All lesser representations of God, therefore, must yield to the representation God gave us in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom and the Son of God stepped out from behind it to show himself to us. What do we behold? We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he did not stay dead is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he did not stop loving us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love - a mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn love .

The conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection is the Autobiography of God.

The Appeal is to Our Rationality

The appeal is to our rationality. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our rationality leads us astray. The serpent distorted our perception of reality. The bitter, he made sweet and the sweet, bitter . He conjured up an illusion that sugarcoated the sourness of the valley of tears. The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears . His testimony was the sugarcoating that embellished the valley of tears. Moreover, as our proximity to Eden receded in both time and space, a secondary illusion arose that hid the sweetness of paradise from us. We forgot. The sweetness of paradise faded from our minds. Therefore, salvation from our dire predicament in the valley of tears requires that the illusions be shattered. The sledgehmmers of truth shatter the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. Jesus is the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us. The valley of tears is autodidactic. The sourness of the valley of tears is the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion that sugarcoats it. We do not become gods without God in the valley of tears. The serpent's testimony was false . When the illusions are shattered, our rationality kicks in and the question wells up within us, "How do we get there from here - from godlessness to paradise?" Then the time is ripe for the Church to interject and say, "We have the map and know the way."

"Sacrifice is usually difficult and irksome. Only love can make it easy, and perfect love can make it a joy. We are willing to give in proportion as we love. And when love is perfect, the sacrifice is complete."

"What a paradise it is for the soul when the heart knows itself to be so loved by God" (St. Faustina, Diary 1756).

A Christian is the Good News of Great Joy

A Christian does not carry the gospel. A Christian is the gospel. A Christian is the good news of great joy. A Christian who knows the theory of Christianity but who does not put the theory of Christianity into practice is an impostor - a fraud. Beware the theoretical Christian who thinks he is a Christian because he knows its rules and regulations and insists that others follow them to the letter . Demand a demonstration from any claimant to Christianity of his bloody wounds . Expose the frauds who have not earned their bloody wounds by loving others. The mark of a Christian is love . Love is the signature of a Christian. Love authenticates the identity of a Christian. Love guarantees a Christian's genuineness. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" . Love is not just an intangible, internal emotion. Love is a reality that can be measured. Love can be measured in two ways: 1) by its scope, that is, by whom we include in it and exclude from it and 2) by the amount we are willing to pay out of our own pockets for the costs to produce the benefits that accrue, not to us, but to others. A Christian picks up the tab for others. The Good Samaritan picked up the tab for a stranger in distress. By including a stranger in the scope of his love, the Good Samaritan raised the bar that marks the upper limit of love. When it was Jesus's turn, he raised the bar of love even higher. Jesus picked up the tab for us, the very sinners who tortured and murdered him . Wow! How radical is such love! How extreme! Is no one, not even our enemies, excluded from the scope of our love? We approach perfection in love as we expand its scope and as the price we are willing to pay rises. Let us strive for perfection in love.

A Christian is a container filled to the brim with love.

The yeast of divinity is love.

Our passage through the valley of tears is a passage through heaven or a passage through hell depending on whether we include God in our lives or exclude him from them. Invite God to accompany you as you pass through the valley of tears.

The Tool of Mitigation

Love of enemy is the tool of mitigation that Jesus brought from heaven to earth as a gift to humanity. Not only did he transport it from heaven to earth himself, he demonstrated that it works by hanging from his own Cross himself. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love kicks the ass of our enemies.

Why did he pay us a visit knowing that the Dogs and Swine would turn and Tear Him to Pieces?

When he paid us a visit at and about the city of Jerusalem in a part of our world we call the Middle East more than two thousand years ago, he did not come empty-handed. He is not that kind of guest. He brought gifts for us. Remarkably, he brought the gifts even though we did not deserve them - even though we were still sinners . He did not wait for us to transform ourselves by dint of our own power into saints. He gave what was holy to dogs and threw pearls before swine even though he knew the dogs and the swine would trample the gifts under their feet, and turn and tear him to pieces. Why? Unlike Humpty Dumpty , he would emerge from the pieces still alive and still in love with us to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of God in a glorious burst of epiphany. Important truths about God would emerge from the pieces with him. From the pieces, the sweetness of paradise would be revealed to us.

Our ugliness highlights and emphasizes and intensifies and magnifies and amplifies and accentuates His beauty - the beauty that emerged from our ugliness. Our ugliness was displayed in the Crucifixion. His beauty was displayed in the Resurrection.

Our Lover is Omnipotent. Whom shall we fear? Of Whom shall we be Afraid?

We plowed him into the toxic soil of the Crucifixion with the same insouciance as the farmer who plows manure into a furrow. We ground him up as the miller grinds grist through a mill. We impaled him on the Cross like the fisherman who impales a live worm on a sharp hook. We baptized him in a boiling cauldron of torture and death as a bagel is baptized in a vat of boiling water. The soil of the Crucifixion was toxic. Yet, from the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, the flower of the Resurrection emerged in a glorious burst of epiphany to illuminate the darkness of our understanding of Jesus. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He emerged from the dead still alive and sill in love with us. Which is the greater miracle ? That he emerged from the black hole of death still alive or that he emerged still in love with us? What do both miracles of the Resurrection tell us about Jesus? That he did not stay dead is the proof of the power of Jesus. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. However, that he did not stop loving us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. From the size of the payment he made to participate in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection, we get a sense of the size of his love for us. He did not make the payment from his unlimited divine resources. He made the payment from his limited human resources. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny to himself. He has never paid more for anything else. The exorbitant size of the payment suggests that his love for us is exorbitant. From the persistence of his love for us, we get a sense of its duration. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn. The indestructibility of his love for us despite the evil we did to him suggests that its duration is perpetual. His love for us is, in size, huge and, in duration, indestructible. Wow! What appeals to us is not the power of Jesus. An omnipotent God who hates us or is indifferent to us would only add to our misery as we pass through the valley of tears. But an omnipotent God who loves us is a horse of a different color - is a whole different story - is another thing entirely. An omnipotent God who loves us gives us hope of rescue from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. The appeal is the combination of his power and his love for us. Our God is our almighty lover. Whom shall we fear? Of whom shall we be afraid ? The love note delivered at Bethlehem was verified by survivng in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion. It is not counterfeit. It is real. Can we not rely on the fact that our lover is the omnipotent God? Can we not trust in our powerful lover? Will our omnipotent lover ever let us down? Will our omnipotent lover ever disappoint?

The greatest innovation in the history of the world is the combination of repentance and forgivness.

Experiential Christianity versus Rules and Regulations Christianity

How do we get the children of Adam and Eve to behave in accordance with a standard of behavior? Is the process of converting a sinner into a saint achieved simply by getting them to change their status from non-compliance to compliance? Is it enough to accomplish the conversion to claim that the standard of behavior is their God's standard of behavior? Do we huff and puff and blow sin away with strident and incessant admonitions against non-compliance? Do we threaten them into compliance? Our approach depends on our view of Christianity as experiential or as based on a set of rules and regulations. Experiential Christianity is intangible. Rules and regulations based Christianity is tangible. We can sink our teeth into rules and regulation based Christianity. We need faith for experiential Christianity. Our approach to the conversion of sinners into saints depends on whether we are experiential Christians or rules and regulations based Christian. Sinners do not convert themselves. We do not convert sinners into saints. The Church does not. Only God does. God and God alone converts sinners into saints. God does the work of conversion at the holy places that define the escape route of the new exodus that is making its escape from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his Holy Family in the promised land. Therefore, to accomplish the goal of converting sinners into saints, get them to the holy places where they can experience close encounters with the living God. Saints are made via close encounters with the living God. During a close encounter with the living God, a connection is made between earth and heaven. Through the connection, God enters the world and the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God empty handed. The problem is a lack of faith in experiential Christianity. Many self-styled Christians do not believe in experiential Christianity. They explicitly or implicitly reject the notion that intangible close encounters with the living God take place at the holy places in favor of tangible rules and regulations. In doing so, they transform Christianity into something that it is not. They reduce Christianity from the sublime to the ordinary. They elbow God out of the way. They interfere with his work here on earth. They put obstacles in the way of the new exodus. They frustrate, filter and foul up the escape from our dire predicament in the valley of tears.

The Foundation of Christianity

Get the foundation right and everything else falls into place. Get the foundation wrong and everything else falls apart. Unfortunately, in Christianity, too many confuse the roof with the foundation. The roof of Christianity is overcrowded. Christianity has a glut of roofers. It has a shortage of foundation workers. In the process of building a Christian, the foundation must be built first before the roof is built. The fish must be caught before it can be gutted and cleaned. The field must be plowed before the seed is planted. Morality is important. However, morality comes into play at the back end of the process of building a Christian not the front end. Morality takes place on the roof of Christianity. The escape of the new exodus from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land takes place at the foundation of Christianity. God built an escape route through the valley of tears, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the mission of helping the curious to explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God at the holy places that define the escape route. The Church has the map and knows the way. At the holy places that define the escape route, God converts sinners into saints. The serpent distorted our perception of reality. The bitter, he made sweet and the sweet, bitter . He conjured up an illusion that sugarcoated the sourness of the valley of tears. The serpent testified that we would become gods without God in the valley of tears . Moreover, as our proximity to Eden receded in both time and space, a secondary illusion arose that hid the sweetness of paradise from us. We forgot. The sweetness of paradise faded from our minds. The truth is the fuel of our rationality. When fueled by the truth our rationality steers us in the right direction. When the fuel of truth is fouled by illusions, our rationality leads us astray. It is critical to the success of God's plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears that the illusions that distort our perception of reality be shattered. Therefore, get off the roof and pick up the sledgehammer of truth to shatter the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. The sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion that sugarcoats the valley of tears is the valley of tears itself. The valley of tears is autodidactic. During our passage through the valley of tears we taste for ourselves its sourness. The sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us is revelation. In the fullness of time, the Son of God brought the revelation of the sweetness of paradise to us. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. The shattering of the illusions is the first step in God's plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Christianity can accomplish nothing until the illusions are shattered. When the illusions are shattered and the truth becomes visible, the children of Adam and Eve ask the question, "How do we get from godlessness to paradise - from here to there?". Then and only then is the time ripe for the Church to say, "We have the map and know the way.".

Banding together into Communities of Love

To pass through the valley of tears, we band together into communities of love to rally en masse 'round the Cross. It is not safe to pass through the valley of tears alone . The valley of tears is hostile territory. In response to our cries, sighs, mourning and weeping , the most Holy Trinity took mercy on us and dispatched the Son of God to transport from heaven to earth technology to "grease" the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Jesus did not just deliver the technology of loving our way through the valley of tears. He was not just a delivery boy. He was the owner and inventor and promotor of the technology. His passion and death on the Cross were an advertisement promoting his technology of applying love to our crosses. He was so confident in the efficacy of the technology that he demonstrated that it works by using it himself. He donned the jetpack himself and flew to show us that we, too, can fly! Even though we tortured and killed him, he arose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. In a community of love, we encourage each other to love our way through the valley of tears. Together in community, we stand shoulder to shoulder to oppose the enemies of love as the Greeks stood shoulder to shoulder together at Thermopylae against the invading Persians. Our crosses tend to transmogrify us into the most miserable and hideous of loveless beasts. They turn us into animals. Love stops the transmogrification dead in its tracks and reverses it. Love enables us to maintain the resemblance we bear to God. Love is the means by which we deny ourselves, pick up our crosses and carry them so we can continue to make progress through the valley of tears back to our home with God and his holy family in paradise. Without love, our crosses stop us dead in our tracks in the middle of hostile territory. We are vulnerable to attack when we stop in the middle of the valley of tears. The new exodus is making its escape from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh, through the valley of tears, to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. The modus operandi of the new exodus that distinguishes its pilgrims from the settlers who have put down roots in the valley of tears is its use of the technology of applying love to suffering. "By this shall all men know that ye are my disciples, if ye have love one to another" .

The Church weakens itself as a community of love to the degree it strays from its prime mission of promoting the technology of love - a technology that Jesus demonstrated works by hanging from the Cross, suffering, dying and emerging from the dead still in love with us, his tormentors and murderers. The Church fails when it tries to build the roof before the foundation. The Church succeeds when it builds the foundation and then the roof. Successful evangelization is a matter of getting the timing right.

Once we wrap our heads around the fact that Jesus emerged from the dead still in love with us, his tormentors and murderers, we understand why Julian of Norwich could exclaim, "all shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well"

To cultivate the garden of paradise in the soil of the Crucifixion each flower must learn to water itself with love.

The Pedagogy of the Valley of Tears is Severe

Adam and Eve, instigated by the serpent, rubbed two sticks together and ignited a fire. And their children are trapped in the fire screaming for help in the midst of the flames. Yet, our God does nothing. He watches us burn. God does not immediately drag us out of the fire. Nor does God lower the heat of the flames. "Help!", "Help!" the children of Adam and Eve cry out from the fire. Yet, our cries fall on deaf ears.

Or do they?

At first glance, our God appears cruel, diabolic and sadistic. How can our God who supposedly loves us and has the power to do something about our dire predicament do nothing while we burn in the fire? Is there an explanation?

Our preliminary conclusion about the savage cruelty of God arises because our conception of rescue is different than God's conception of rescue . While trapped in the fire, the exigency of our dire predicament focuses our minds on the cost of the fire and on nothing else. We just want to escape from it. God, however, sees both the cost and the benefits of the fire. God wants the fire to transform us . The serpent was just lying to us. But God wants the serpent's testimony to come true. God wants us to defy the fire as "God" defies the fire.

Only when we achieve a better understanding of the benefits of the fire does our opinion of the cruelty of God change.

What are the benefits of the fire?

1) the likelihood increases that we will keep the gift of paradise of our own free will when God delivers it to us. God does not want to transform paradise into a prison, himself into a warden and us into prisoners. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. God wants to give us the gift of paradise and wants us to keep it. He does not want us to drop the ball. He does not want the gift of paradise to slip through our fingers as it did with Lucifer, as it did with the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer, as it did with Eve and as it did with Adam. The fire teaches us the same lesson that the pig sty taught the prodigal son. The prodigal son is never going back there and neither are we. Our experience in the fire teaches us that the flames are hot. The heat of the flames shatters the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of the valley of tears. When the illusion is shattered, our rationality kicks in and instructs us to flee from the fire.

2) the fire drains the serpent's lie of its power to deceive. We learn for ourselves that we do not become "gods" without God in the fire. The serpent's testimony embellished the sourness of the valley of tears with a sugarcoating of godhood. The testimony was false. He lied to us. Anything said about the fire is rejected that is contrary to our experience there.

3) the fire challenges us to use the tool of mitigation that God gave us. Why would an allegedly cruel God give us a tool to mitigate the harshness of the fire? Giving us a tool to mitigate the harshness of the fire is a philanthropic act that contradicts the notion that God is cruel. A cruel God does not bestow such a blessing on us. Yet, God did. Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love is the tool with which we shield ourselves from the fire as we pass through it. Love is the grease for the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Love kicks suffering's ass. If we refuse to use the tool of mitigation, is there anyone to blame but ourselves?

Indeed, the pedagogy of God is severe . Letting us stew in the fire is medicine - harsh but effective medicine.

Can we reconcile the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears with the notion that our God is the indissoluble marriage between absolute power and absolute love for us? The harshness of our passage through the valley of tears is real. We taste it for ourselves. Is the sweetness of paradise real? Why don't we taste it as well?

The God with the Bloody Wounds has the Means and the Motive to Rescue Us from our Dire Predicament in the Valley of Tears

The God with the bloody wounds who refused to let the evil we did to him poke a hole in his most sacred heart and drain it of his love for us never lets us down. He never disappoints. He is trustworthy. He has the means and the motive to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. Jesus is the indissoluble marriage between absolute power and absolute love for us. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the indisputable proof of his power. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did. However, that he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the indisputable proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is also love. The genuineness of his power and his love for us was proven to us by surviving the evil we did to him. That he paid such an exorbitant cost out of his own pocket for the production of the proof is the basis for a high degree of confidence in him. He paid the exorbitant cost not from his unlimited divine resources. He paid the exorbitant cost from his limited human resournces. He paid them all for us. He kept not a penny for himself. He has never paid more for anything else. All is well. We can build our lives on the foundation of his absolute power and his absolute love for us. He is the rock on which the wise set the foundation of their lives .

The Current of Salvation

Imagine the progress we shall make when we swim with the current instead of against it!

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took with them their children into the valley of tears. The valley of tears is hostile territory. As we pass through it, we get nailed to terrible crosses including the most terrible of crosses, death. None of us escapes them - not even the rich man whose riches barely keep the crosses temporarily at bay . In the valley of tears, their predicament is dire. I extended an offer to rescue them from their dire predicament in the valley of tears. The only question that is open is whether or not they will accept my offer. In my mercy, I have "rigged the game" to help them to make the right decision. The "game" is not "on the level". The "playing surface" is tilted in their favor. I have built two powerful engines that produce the gravity of salvation. The gravity of salvation causes the current of salvation to flow downhill from the valley of tears into paradise. The current of salvation sweeps them off their feet and returns them to their home with me and their holy family in paradise. Only fools swim against the current of salvation. On my left is the sourness of godlessness. It is the poweful engine that pushes them out of the valley of tears to its exit. Godlessness is autodidactic. As they pass through the valley of tears, they taste for themselves the sourness of a life without God. The valley of tears is the flame into which they put their fingers to discover the hotness of the fire. Without God, the valley of tears is inhospitable. On my right is the sweetness of paradise. It is the powerful engine that pulls them to the entrance of paradise. My power built paradise for them; my love for them makes paradise sweet. My offer to rescue them from their dire predicament in the valley of tears is irrevocable because my love for them is irrevocable. My love for them ought to have faded as they tortured me and died when they killed me. But it did not. My love for them survived the evil they did to me . That I continue to love them nonetheless after they tortured and killed me is the irrefutable proof of the indestructiblity of my love for them. I forgave them the evil that they did to me . However, a great abyss separates the valley of tears and paradise . I straddle it because I am the way, the truth, and the life . Through my bloody wounds, the great leap from time to eternity is made . I am appealing to their faculty of rationality not to their faculty of obedience. Their faculty of obedience is broken. It has been broken since the age of Adam and Eve. I wish to persuade them with my love not conquer them with my omnipotence. Rational creatures flee the sourness of godlessness and seek the sweetness of paradise. It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. It is crazy to do otherwise. Fueled by the truth, their rationality steers them in the right direction. When the truth is fouled by illusions, their rationality leads them astray. Therefore, pick up the sledgehammers of truth and wield them against the illusions to shatter them as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When the illusions are shattered and the truth becomes visible to them, they will ask the great question of life, "How do we get there from here - from godlessness to paradise?". When the great question of life is asked, the time is ripe for my Church to interject and say, "We have the map and know the way." Getting them to ask the questions is critical to their salvation. A teacher with all of the answers is superflous in a school whose students ask no questions. A Church that has the map and knows the way is likewise superflous without anyone interested in escaping from their dire predicament in the valley of tears. Furthermore, I sent them the Holy Spirit. My Holy Spirit is tugging at their souls . The curious are following the tug back to its source. Along the way, the curious are exploring the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. They accept my offer to rescue them from their dire predicament in the valley of tears by becoming curious. They reject it when they swim against the current of salvation.

The Valley of Tears is Hostile Territory

Who is to blame for our dire predicament in the valley of tears? Blame the serpent. The serpent conjured up an illusion that distorted our perception of reality. The illusion sugarcoated the sournessness of the valley of tears. The sugarcoating with which the serpent embellished the valley of tears was testimony that we would become gods without God there. God testified that without God in the valley of tears we would die. The testimony was in conflict. Adam and Eve decided to resolve the conflict in the testimony themselves. So, in pursuit of godhood, they risked death. It was a bad bet. With the help of the serpent, we got ourselves into trouble. Who will get us out of trouble? Who will rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears? In whom do we hope for salvation? From the moment Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise like foolish children, God has executed his rescue plan. He did not delay. He did not wait. He began executing his rescue plan immediately. He wants us to return to our home with him and his holy family in paradise and wants us to stay there. When God gives us the gift of paradise, God wants us to keep it. He does not want the gift of paradise to slip through our fingers as it did with Lucifer, with the gaggle of angels who follow him, with Eve and with Adam. God does not want the children of Adam and Eve to fumble the ball. However, to accomplish his goal, God does not want to turn paradise into a prison, himself into a warden and us into prisoners. A cage is still a cage no matter how gilded. God wants the children of Adam and Eve to accept the gift of paradise and keep it of their own free will. God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as God delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than God was with them. Adam and Eve were the first beneficiaries of God’s love for us. They were not the last. God’s philanthropy did not end with Adam and Eve; God’s philanthropy began with them. This is good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed. In the interim, however, the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears, our cries, sighs, mourning and weeping leave our lips . They reached God's ear and melted God's heart. In his mercy, God took steps to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. How does God mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears? What does a better job of keeping our crosses at bay than the riches of the rich man ? Jesus hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. To mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears, don the yoke of love . Love is the grease the lubricates the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. When you hang as Jesus hung, cling as Jesus clung, love as Jesus loved. Hold tight and refuse to let go of love, suffering's invincible foe. Love, not riches, kicks suffering's ass. Our natural instinct is to let our crosses poke a hole in our hearts and drain them of love. We, however, have the option to refuse. We can deny ourselves. We can reject our natural instinct . We can cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go as Jesus did. Without love, our crosses mire us in the valley of tears. Our crosses try to make us settlers with roots sunk deep into the valley of tears. We are meant to be pilgrims passing through the valley of tears not settlers. The valley of tears is not the place to stop to smell the roses. Mobility not sessility is the mark of a member of the new exodus passing through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Only love turns you into superman with the ability to pick up and carry your crosses so you can continue to make progress towards paradise. Love lightens the load. Applying riches, not love, to your crosses only weighs you down, thereby impeding your progress to paradise. Riches make you sink in the valley of tears. Travel through the valley of tears with the lightness of love. Love enables you to soar like an eagle through the valley of tears .

The Two Tables

At which of the two tables do you sup? At one table is Jesus, the Son of God with the most nutritious spread - life in abundance . Prayer is one of the dishes on the table of the Lord. So is the most Holy Eucharist. So is feeding the hungry and caring for the sick. At the other table is nothing but junk food. The junk food is enticing. It tastes great. But Jesus is not at the junk food table. Moreover, a diet of junk food will make you sick and, eventually, kill you. At which table do you sup? The wise sup at the table of our Lord. Fools partake in the junk food.

Nobody signs up to dive headfirst or, for that matter, even dip his toe into the boiling cauldron of suffering unless they are insane or something important outweighs the exorbitant cost of suffering. All creatures who suffer understand this. Suffering is our native tongue. We understand that suffering is an exorbitant cost we only willingly pay for something that is extremely dear to us. Jesus paid the exorbitant cost because we are extremely dear to Him.

That he volunteered, despite its exorbitant cost, to engage in the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection with sinners tells us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing - nothing - that he won't do to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears.

 
 

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears.

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us.

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to publish the Autobiography of God

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to give us a high fidelity representation of the reality of God.

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to put a love note into our hands at Bethlehem and to verify its genuineness by surviving the evil we did to him at Calvary.

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to demonstrate that the magnitude of his love for us is huge and that the duration of his love for us is indestructible.

The relationship of question and answer weaves its way through his bloody wounds to connect the Crucifixion and the Resurrection together into a conversation - the greatest conversation that has ever taken place between us and our God! Are you privy to the conversation?

 

Proof

It is not enough to say that God loves us. Though true, saying so, defames God. It disparages what he did to demonstrate his love for us. It devalues his sacrifice. He did not just tell us he loved us. He took part in a cruel experiment that put the proof of his love for us into our hands. We planted him in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, yet, the flower of the Resurrection emerged therefrom still in love with us. Not even the evil we did to him could extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most Sacred Heart or reduce it by even the slightest degree. His love for us is indestructible - immune to the evil we did to him. His love for us is mysteriously intransigent, inexplicably persistent and radically stubborn. We have the proof. The proof is in our hands. He put it there. [By the way, by emerging from the dead, he put the proof of his power into our hands as well. Nobody emerges from the dead. He did].

He came not to die but to emerge from the dead - there is a difference - a significant difference

Into the toxic soil of the Crucifixion, the most Holy Trinity planted the seed of the Resurrection. The purpose of the planting was to remediate the toxicity of the soil . Clay The yeast of divinity would leaven the mud of humanity . As our propinquity to the age of Adam and Eve grows ever more distant in space and time, we develop amnesia and the sweetness of paradise fades from our memory. Our long exile in the valley of tears raises an illusion that obscures from us the sweetness of paradise. God becomes an outcast to his kindred, a stranger to his mother’s children . The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to reacquaint the mud with the sweetness of paradise. The children of Adam and Eve had forgotten their God. The most Holy Trinity wanted to remind them of him. They wanted to shatter the illusion that hides the sweetness of paradise from us. Jesus was the sledgehammer of truth that shatters the illusion as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. As the fair flower of the Resurrection uprose from the foul soil of the Crucifixion, the truth about God started to radiate to the children of Adam and Eve like the dawn of a new day . Beauty emerged from ugliness. In a glorious burst of epiphany, the flower of the Resurrection illuminated the darkness of our understanding of God . Jesus revealed his identity to us unambiguously during the greatest and most important conversation that ever took place between God and humanity - the conversation between the Crucifixion and the Resurrection. Behold, the veil of the temple was rent in twain from the top to the bottom and the Son of God stepped out from behind it to show himself to us. We notice that when he stepped out from behind the veil, he was not empty-handed. He did not emerge from the dead alone. Important truths emerged with him when he arose from the dead. What truths? Jesus emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. That he emerged from the dead still alive is the proof of the power of Jesus. No one emerges from the dead. He did. That he emerged from the dead still in love with us is the proof that our conception of divinity as power is incomplete. Divinity is more than power. Divinity is also love. Both power and love survived the evil we did to him. Ask yourself these questions. Which truth that emerged with him from the evil baptism into which we immersed him is more surprising? Which is more important? Which is the greater miracle? The exercise of his power over death or the instransigence of his love for us? All "gods" are powerful. His stubborn love for us, however, makes our God different than the other "gods". Perhaps the hallmark of a "god" is love not power? Jesus was endowed with both. Hallelujah!
Clay

 

How do you make the desert bloom? How do you remediate the toxicity of the wasteland? How do you sanctify the world? By planting the seed of the Resurrection in the toxic soil of the Crucifixion and watering it with love. Ordinarily, the toxic soil of the Crucifixion derails the process of germination. It stops it dead in its tracks. However, when the seed of the Resurrection is watered with love, it blossoms into a flower. Love remediates the toxicity of the soil. Therefore, water the inhospitable desert with love to transform it into a beautiful garden - into a veritable paradise. The trail through the valley of tears that takes us back to our home with God and his holy family in paradise is blazed with love. Follow the blazes. Love is the way, the truth and the life .

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Death ought to have marked the end of the story. But it did not. He attached an epilogue to the end of the story. In the epilogue, he emerged from the dead.

Our Failure to Piss Him Off

The evil we did to him ought to have, at the very least, pissed him off. It ought to have antagonized him. It ought to have earned us a place on his shit list. It ought to have provoked his natural instinct for justice. It ought to have triggered his reflex for revenge, retaliation and retribution. It ought to have transformed him into our enemy - into a misanthropic monster - into the God who hates us. It ought to have shifted God from the pro-human team to the anti-human team with the serpent and his minions. When the fuse is lit, the bomb ordinarily explodes. But, remarkably, it did not. The fuse worked but the bomb was a dud . The evil we did to him did not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree . He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. God let us get away with murder - with deicide . Such is the nature of God! Wow! Our God is a beneficent philanthropist not a misanthropic monster. This is the good news of great joy - very good news for us indeed.

We Squeezed Him.

We squeezed him as water is squeezed from a sponge. We put him through the ringer. But all we could squeeze through the wounds we opened in his body was his blood. We were unable to squeeze his love for us out of him - not a drop.

'How do we tell them how much their God loves them?'

'How do we tell them how much their God loves them?' the most Holy Trinity asked themselves. 'We pay them a visit. We let them torture and kill us. We suffer and die. We rise from the dead. And we continue to love them nonetheless. If this does not tell them how much their God loves them, nothing can or will."

Have you ever spent time with a Person who loves you?

Jesus loves you more than your mother - more than your father - more than anyone who has ever loved you. Spend time with the people who love you. Spend time with Jesus. Put yourself into his presence so he can love you and you can love him. There are spaces filled with people who love you. Find them. Enter them. Occupy them. Your home is with them. Go home.

"For where two or three are gathered together in my name, there am I in the midst of them." .

 

Are you curious?

The Curious are Exploring the Mountain of God

The Holy Spirit is tugging at our souls and the curious are following the tug back to its source. Along the way, the curious are exploring the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. God is the mountain. The Church is the mountain guide. We are explorers. God built an escape route from the bottom of the mountain to its top, defined the escape route with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the mission of helping the curious to explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The Church has the map and knows the way. For more than two thousand years, the Church has taken the curious on expeditions to explore the mountain of God. Surely, from its millennia of experience, the Church has learned a thing or two about God? During the expeditions, the Church has accumulated bits and pieces of the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The bits and pieces fill a treasure chest with the knowledge of God. The bits and pieces are more valuable - much more valuable - than diamonds, rubies, pearls and golden coins. But, the Church looks about it and beholds the poverty of its neighbors. The treasure chests of its neighbors are empty or nearly empty. So the Church invites you to join an expedition to the holy places and explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God for yourselves. The Church wants you to fill your treasure chests with bits and pieces of the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. The Church wants you to fill your treasure chests to the brim. The Church wants you to become rich beyond your wildest dreams.

Who has the map and knows the way?

Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from home with God in paradise and took us with them into godlessness. Godlessness is not a nice place. To rescue us from godlessness, God built an escape route through the valley of tears, defined it with holy places, made a map of them, established a Church, entrusted the map to the Church and gave the Church the mission of serving the new exodus as the new Moses as it makes its escape through the valley of tears from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and their holy family in paradise. The job of the new Moses is logistics - to get the children of Adam and Eve from here to there - from godlessness to paradise. The job of the new Moses is not to put obstacles in our way. The job of the new Moses is to facilitate our escape not to frustrate it, filter it or foul the escape up. The movement of the new exodus on the escape route forms the needle of the compass that always points to God. Only by moving from holy place to holy place can we be certain that we are heading in the right direction. The holy places that define the escape route are the jewels of a beautiful necklace that God set against and in contrast to the hostile desert of godlessness. The beautiful necklace is a gift from the God who loves us - a token of his love for us. God gave it to us to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. At a holy place that helps to define the escape route, a close encounter with the living God takes place. During a close encounter with the living God, a connection is made between earth and heaven. Through the connection, God enters the world and the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God empty handed.

Never underestimate the generosity of God

Ptolemy was right. Copernicus was wrong. The earth is the center of the universe. Everything else revolves around it. Why? Because the earth is the place where the Son of God earned his bloody wounds. [“Wherever Macdonald sits, there is the head of the table.” ―Ralph Waldo Emerson]

 

When you evangelize, with what do you bait your hook to fish for the children of Adam and Eve? What bait do the fish take hook, line and sinker?

The Son of God impaled bloody and alive on the Cross like a worm on a hook is the bait. The bait is cast into the valley of tears to fish for the children of Adam and Eve.

The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God from heaven to earth to reaquaint us with the sweetness of paradise. One of the valuable byproducts of his mission showed us how to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears and suggested to us the possibility that we can do the same for our neighbors.