God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he 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.
The story of Adam and Eve is not about getting the gift of paradise. God gave Adam and Eve the gift of life and the gift of paradise simultaneously - no questions asked. Adam and Eve did not have to satisfy any conditions in order to get the gift of life or the gift of paradise. The gifts were gratis - free of charge - a quid without a quo. The story of Adam and Eve is about the keeping of paradise or, more precisely, the failure to keep the gift of paradise.
The evidence is irrefutable that getting the gift of paradise does not mean that we will keep it. Eve fumbled the ball. So did Adam. So did Lucifer and the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer. God does not want the children of Adam and Eve to repeat the mistake of their parents. When God gives us the gift of paradise (and the giving of the gift of paradise is ineluctable), God wants us to keep it without having to turn paradise into a prison, God into our warden and us into prisoners. A cage is a cage no matter how gilded. God wants us to keep paradise of our own free wills.
So God tweaked the timetable according to which he delivers his gifts to us. For the children of Adam and Eve, God inserted a delay. He inserted a delay between the delivery of the gift of life and the gift of paradise.
During the delay, he exposes our rationality to the truth (Isaiah 5:20). Exposure to the truth inoculates us against the lie. When we have a first-hand experience with the truth, lies no longer have any power over us. The power of a lie to deceive is destroyed. Personal experience with the truth defangs the lie. During the delay, we see for ourselves that paradise is sweet and godlessness is sour. When fueled by the truth, our rationality steers our free wills in the right direction. Our rationality tells our free wills to seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. We keep the gift of paradise, when our free wills are exposed to the truth.
Until the power of the lie to deceive is destroyed, we are susceptible to fumbling the ball. After the power of the lie to deceive is destroyed, it becomes impossible for us to fumble the ball. The delay is all about destroying the power of the lie to deceive us. Our purpose in the valley of tears is to discover the truth. The truth sets us free.
The Three Stages of Conversion
The most Holy Trinity sent the Holy Spirit to tug at our 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 are participating in the quest to discover God. Yet, how few are the curious! How many are the strangers to the quest! Of those participating, how many are lukewarm, insincere or perfunctory! Life approaches perfection only when we are diligently engaged in the quest to discover God. Therefore, is it possible to stimulate interest in the quest?
Yes. There is a way. But, the approach cannot be scattershot. Throwing everything that's Catholic at them at the same time willy nilly in the hope that some of it sticks does not work. Settlers do not ripen into pilgrims simultaneously. Each passes through the stages of conversion according to his own, unique, idiosyncratic timetable. Therefore, the tools of conversion must be tailored to the stage. The tool that is appropriate for one stage is inappropriate for the next. For conversion to take place, the stage must first be ascertained and the tool appropriate for the stage applied. There are three tools of conversion: 1) the sledgehammer of truth, 2) the map of the escape route, and 3) the key of morality. Each tool is appropriate to a particular stage.
The goal of conversion is to transform settlers into pilgrims. Like trees, settlers have put down roots deep into the valley of tears. They are content to stand still even though the valley of tears is hostile territory. In hostile territory, movement is necessary for survival. Settlers standing still in the valley of tears must become pilgrims passing through it. Run, settlers, run. Do not stand still. Run from holy place to holy place. [If the exigency is not felt, the Church is not doing its job (Matthew 3:7).]
In the first stage of conversion, the illusions are shattered that hide from us the sweetness of paradise and the sourness of godlessness. The sledgehammer of truth shatters the illusions as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. The sledgehammer of truth is the tool appropriate to the first stage of conversion. Is all truth brought to bear on the illusions? No. Just the subset of truth that pertains to them. The illusions distort the landscape of reality (Isaiah 5:20).. Under the illusions, the world is topsy-turvey. The illusions deceive us into thinking that godlessness is sweet and paradise is sour. When the illusions are shattered, the truth becomes visible to us. The serpent's promise of deification in godlessness is exposed as a lie (Genesis 3:5). We see with our own eyes that paradise is sweet and that godlessness is sour. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. The truth motivates us. The truth sets us free. Settlers pick up the roots they have planted in the valley of tears and become pilgrims passing through it. Without pausing to pack our bags, we join the quest to discover God. The current of salvation sweeps us up off of our feet as it flows inexorably from the sourness of godlessness to the sweetness of paradise and carries us back to our home with God and his holy family in paradise (except the contrary who perversely swim against it).
Before the second stage of conversion can begin, however, the Church must wait for the signal. The Church must be patient and wait for the signal that heralds the second stage. After the illusions are shattered by the sledgehammer of truth, the curious start clamoring for directions: "How do we get there from here - from godlessness to paradise?". The plea for directions is the signal that the time is ripe for the Church to declare, "we have the map and know the way". [Sharing the map of the escape route with settlers still deceived by illusions who are not asking for directions bears no fruit (Matthew 7:6)] The map of the escape route is the tool appropriate to the second stage of conversion. God built an escape route through the valley of tears from godlessness to paradise (Isaiah 35:8), 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. The new exodus is making its escape on 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 (Exodus 3:8). 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 established in, 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.
In the second stage of conversion, the Church puts down the sledgehammer of truth, picks up the map of the escape route and becomes the tour guide who takes the curious to the holy places. At the holy places, the curious explore the mystery, majesty and magnificence of God. At a holy place, we include God in our lives and God includes us in theirs. Close encounters with the living God take place at the holy places. During a close encounter, a connection is made between earth and heaven. Through the connection, the light of paradise illuminates the darkness of godlessness. What does the light show the darkness? The light shows the darkness that 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, we grow rich by spending the currency of love. The more we spend the richer we get (Matthew 13:12) Therefore, let us meet at a holy place where we can grow rich by spending the currency of love. No one walks away from a close encounter with the living God unchanged. No one walks away empty handed. A close encounter with the living God transforms us. At a holy place we keep one eye open to catch a glimpse of God in the moment. Examples of the holy places upon the earth at which close encounters with the living God take place are the Mass, Confession, the other sacraments, works of charity, acts of kindness, prayer especially the rosary, Eucharistic adoration, feeding the hungry, visiting the sick, fasting, the gathering of two or more together in God's name, bible study, suffering (if we apply love to it), the hour of death, etc. The holy places are the life boats that God has provided to ferry us out of godlessness, through the valley of tears, to paradise. God occupies the life boats.
In the second stage of conversion, 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 Church is the servant of the escape not its master. God is the master of the escape. It is God's escape route that takes us from godlessness to paradise - not the Church's. The Church is the trustee of the escape route who owes a fiduciary duty to the pilgrims engaged in the escape and to the settlers not yet interested in the escape. The fiduciary duty of the Church is to help the children of Adam and Eve to discover God - all of the children of Adam and Eve, not just some - both saints and sinners, especially sinners (Matthew 9:11-13). Discovery takes place at the holy places.
God is not the king who rules us. He is the king who loves us. In place of rules, regulations, red tape and rigmarole, the means by which he governs us is love. In the kingdom of the king who loves us, the citizens govern themselves. We desire to please him. We trip all over ourselves in our eagerness to please him. The Church is wise to do likewise. The job of the Church is not to rule us. The Son of God did not pay us a visit to establish another government here on earth (John 18:36). The job of the Church is unique. The job of the Church is to facilitate our escape - not to frustrate it, not to filter it and not to foul it up. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. Like UPS, the US Postal Service or Federal Express, the Church is all about logistics - getting us from here to there - from godlessness to paradise. "Abandon ship! Abandon ship!" is the cry of the Church. "Into the lifeboats! Into the lifeboats" the Church exclaims. Godlessness is a sinking ship (Mark 4:35-39). We are its passengers. The Church is its crew. God gave the Church a rescue mission. However, the rescue mission that God gave the Church is not to save the ship. The rescue mission that God gave the Church is to save the passengers. God is not interested in making godlessness into a better, more hospitable place for godless people to live. God wants us to exhume the corpse of godlessness that is poisoning us as it rots in our hearts. God wants the Church to get us out of the valley of tears, into the lifeboats and on our way to paradise.
The first two stages are the foundation of the process of building a Christian. They are the root from which a Christian sprouts. Everything else is built upon the foundation. Get the foundation right and everything else falls into place. Get the foundation wrong and everything else falls apart.
In the third stage, the roof of morality is installed upon the foundation of conversion. Like the second stage, a signal heralds the start of the third stage. Morality is the key that unlocks the cages of sin in which we imprison ourselves. When we bang on the bars of our cages and beg for the key and demand our freedom, the signal that the third stage has begun is sounded. Trying to install the roof of morality on a settler without a foundation, however, is akin to giving what is holy to dogs or throwing your pearls before swine (Matthew 7:6). Settlers view morality as the cage that imprisons them and not as the key that sets them free. Pilgrims, on the other hand, have an open mind about what is the cage and what is the key. Pilgrims are more willing than settlers to take the bit of morality into their mouths, the bridle of morality onto their heads and the reins of morality into their hands. Morality is the jeweled crown that pilgrims wear on their heads as we pass through the valley of tears.
The Church, however, has a surplus of roofers and a shortage of foundation workers. Everybody is a roofer with an opinion about how we ought to behave. Nobody is working on the foundation. As a result, the escape 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 (Pope Francis 1/28/2107 at the Congregation for the Institute for the Consecrated Life) (Summary of Bulletin). 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 dead have no choice. The thermometer that gauges the temperature of the body of Christ is the practice of Christianity. By this measure, the patient is dying.
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. God is the colossus who bestrides the universe. The Church trivializes him by excluding him from the conversation. By excluding God from the conversation, the Church has turned God into an inscrutable, aloof caricature of himself. The Church assumes we have an understanding of God. The assumption, however, is incorrect. God is a stranger to us and nobody follows a stranger (John 10:5).
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.
The mission of the Son of God to us was manifold:
- to put a fair and accurate representation of God into our hands so we would possess knowledge of the sweetness of paradise,
- with regard to death, to show us that death has an exit as well as an entrance,
- with regard to sin, to show us that it does not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree.
The serpent, however, saw the Son of God's mission of mercy to humanity as the perfect opportunity to drain the most Sacred Heart of the Son of God of his love for humanity. In the eyes of the serpent, the creation of Adam and Eve and their prodigy was God's mistake. We are unworthy of God's love. Without God's love, humanity is doomed. We cannot survive on our own. Stop God from loving humanity and humanity ceases to exist. [Salvation history is the story of the many failed attempts of the serpent to persuade God to stop loving us]. So the serpent devised a plan to show God the unworthiness of humanity. What better way for the serpent to accomplish his foul purpose than by inducing us to baptize the Son of God while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and our guest upon the earth in a boiling cauldron of torture and death? Surely, the serpent reasoned, this grievous insult to the venerable body of the Son of God would turn God against humanity. It would change God from a friend of humanity into an enemy.
More so than marriage, the Son of God's friendship with humanity, however, is indissoluble. So he would turn the tables on the serpent. He would use the serpent's foul plan to accomplish his mission of mercy to humanity (Proverbs 16:4). He would deliver the good news of great joy to ease the suffering of humanity. Furthermore, in the course of accomplishing his mission, he would incidentally reveal to us the nature of God. The autobiography of God would be published.
To transport the the solution to the problem of suffering from heaven to earth, to demonstrate that the solution works, to thwart the foul plan of the serpent and to simultaneously compose his autobiography, the Son of God took flesh. The Son of God became man - an equal to us in our humanity - a partner with us in our suffering. Without flesh, none of this could be accomplished. The only universal language that survived the confounding of language that took place at Babel (Genesis 11: 1-9) was the language of suffering. The language of suffering is our native tongue. All of the children of Adam and Eve understand it. God composed his autobiography in the language of suffering to make sure that, when we read it, we would understand it. The language of suffering is a simple language. Its communicative ability arises from its power to distinguish the real from the counterfeit. What survives suffering is real. What doesn't survive is counterfeit. His autobiography is the story of the real and the counterfeit - the story of what survived suffering and what did not.
Furthermore, his autobiography was not written in words but was done in deeds. Fickle words are susceptible to manipulation, misinterpretation and misunderstanding. The meaning of deeds, on the other hand, is less malleable. A deed is closer to the truth than a word. The greater propinquity of a deed to the truth than a word makes a story composed of deeds more reliable than a story composed of words.
The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands did not put himself into the hands of the mud to free us from either the Egyptians or the Romans. He had a bigger fish to fry. He came to free us from a tyrant far worse than the Egyptians or the Romans. We are born in the image and likeness of God (Genesis 1:27). The vicious tyrant from whom Jesus came to free us has the power to destroy any resemblance that we bear to God. He can transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. The valley of tears is hostile territory. As we pass through it, monsters of suffering attack us. They try to crush us under their oppressive weight. When this happens, the tyrant who lives within us instructs us to release our grip on love - to let love slip through our fingers - to fumble the ball. This is bad advice. The tyrant's instruction is contrary to our self-interest. It hurts rather than helps us. Jesus wants us to deny ourselves. He wants us to say 'No' to the tyrant within us. He wants us to cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go. He wants us to maintain the resemblance we bear to God. Why is it important to maintain the resemblance we bear to God? The more we resemble God, the more love we have in our hearts and the easier our passage through the valley of tears becomes.
A byproduct of the process of teaching humanity to love its way through suffering was the publication of a fair and accurate representation of God. By virtue of the narrative of salvation, a fair and accurate representation of God was put into our hands. It is a faithful self-portrait. Its fidelity is higher than any representation of God made by human hands.
We were unworthy of his love. We manifested our unworthiness by the evil we did to him. Yet, he loved us despite our unworthiness. The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands continued to love the mud nonetheless. He rejected the serpent's unworthiness argument. "So what" he said to the serpent's argument. "Big deal." They are unworthy but I love them nonetheless.
At Bethlehem, our God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands delivered a love note to us by putting himself into the hands of the mud. (What type of literature is the word of God? The word of God is a love note). At Calvary, the love note was tested to determine whether it was genuine or counterfeit. In the Resurrection, the results of the test were published for us. The results of the test are the good news of great joy. Given the difficulty of the test, the results are very good news for us indeed. In the Resurrection, we learn that the love note is genuine.
Do you appreciate the reality that the God who fashioned you out of the mud with his hands, personally hand delivered a love note to you and proved to you that the love note was genuine? Wow!
The love note is the rock upon which we build our faith. It is time to rediscover the rock and build our faith upon it.
The love note is the foundation of Christianity.
The passage of the love note through the valley of tears from the Crucifixion to the Resurrection is the crux of Christianity. Everything else is obiter dictum.
Our God is the God with the bloody wounds. His bloody wounds are the badges not of his failure but are the badges of the serpent's failure. Look at the bloody wounds and know that the serpent failed to empty his most Sacred Heart of his love for us. The serpent tried hard but failed. Many are the impostors who pretend be our God. We can identify an impostor because an impostor is without his bloody wounds ( Matthew 24:11 ). Impostors cannot duplicate the bloody wounds. Power and love for us knitted together is our God - infinite, absolute and perfect. His power built paradise. His love for us makes paradise sweet. Rational people seek the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness). It is contrary to their self-interest to do otherwise. Our rationality, when fueled by the truth, steers us in the right direction. The truth sets us free. When love for us and power are knitted together into our God, do we have any reason to worry? It is much better to have the God with the bloody wounds as our God than a rich uncle, right? "All shall be well, and all shall be well, and all manner of thing shall be well." (Julian of Norwich) Do you want to know God? Read his autobiography. You cannot say that you know God until you read and understand his autobiography.
Incubators of Love
When God built the world, he included within his creation incubators of love. An incubator of love is an institution in which love has the potential to germinate, blossom and flourish. Any relationship that fosters love is an incubator of love. The relationship between a mother and her baby is an example of an incubator of love. So is marriage. So is family. So is friendship. So is Church. So is feeding the hungry, clothing the naked, caring for the sick and other blessed acts of charity. The enemies of humanity want to destroy the incubators of love. Abortion is evil because it nips in the bud the love between a mother and her baby. Divorce is evil because it nips in the bud the love between a husband and a wife. Turning the beggars at your door away empty-handed is evil because it nips in the bud the love between a donor and a beneficiary. The friends of humanity desire to promote, to protect and to propagate love. They put themselves between incubators of love and our enemies who want to destroy them. You can tell the difference between a friend of humanity and an enemy by their attitude toward and their treatment of the incubators of love.
The Crucifixion raised an Existential Question that the Son of God Himself Answered in the Resurrection
The Crucifixion raised an existential question for humanity, "Would the evil that we did to him extinguish the love that burns like a bonfire for us in his most sacred heart or reduce it by any degree?". The expectation was that his love for us would fade as we tortured him and would die when we killed him. But, our God defies expectation. His thoughts are not our thoughts. His ways are not our ways. His ways are higher than our ways and his thoughts are higher than our thoughts (Isaiah 55:8-9). In the Resurrection, the Son of God himself answered the existential question raised by the Crucifixion. The answer comes to us straight from the horse's mouth. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. In the Resurrection we learn that the dial that controls his love for us is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place. We cannot budge it - not even by doing evil to him. Wow! Our God is the God with the bloody wounds. Contemplate what his blood wounds mean for us. His bloody wounds are the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) through which we must squeeze our contemplation. His bloody wounds are a telescope through which we can catch a glimpse of heaven from here on earth. When we look through his bloody wounds, we see that his heart is still filled to the brim with love for us.
Did the Son of God Come Empty-handed?
Did the Son of God come empty-handed? Did he bring nothing with him for us to mitigate the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears? Did not our sighs, mourning and weeping leave our lips, reach his ear and break his heart? Did he ignore our dire predicament in the valley of tears? Our God with the bloody wounds is not a tight-fisted, parsimonious, empty-handed God. When he paid us a visit, he transported from heaven to earth technology that mitigates the harshness of our passage through the valley of tears. The technology teaches us to apply love to suffering. He demonstrated that the technology works by using it himself. It is field-tested technology. We can trust in the technology because the Son of God himself demonstrated to us that it works. His successful demonstration of the technology ought to inspire confidence in it. His successful demonstration of the technology is the reason for us to adopt the technology ourselves and use it to grease the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears.
Lest We Forget the Meaning of the Bloody Wounds
Does the Son of God want us to remember anything in particular about him (Luke 22:14-20)? By transforming bread into his body and wine into his blood at the Last Supper, the Son of God pointed us in a particular direction. He showed us the narrow gate (Matthew 7:13-14) through which we must squeeze our contemplation. His pick of body and blood was not random or accidental. What connects his blood with his body? Obviously, the connection is his wounds. The Son of God wants us to contemplate the meaning of his bloody wounds. Our God is the God with the bloody wounds - unique among gods - a vulnerable God. What does this characteristic tell us about God? What do his bloody wounds mean ( 1 Corinthians 1:17 ) ?
Furthermore, by making his body and his blood the equivalent of food and drink, the Son of God elevated such contemplation to the biological necessity of eating and drinking. "Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God" (Matthew 4:4). Not only is food and drink necessary to sustain life but so is contemplation of the meaning of his bloody wounds. Such contemplation is as vital to our existence as food and drink (John 6:56).
By eating his flesh and drinking his blood, we are declaring that we understand the meaning of his bloody wounds. Do we? If you do not understand the meaning of his bloody wounds, you are receiving the most Holy Eucharist unworthily (1 Corinthians 11:27-29). Your declaration of understanding is a lie. Let us, therefore, discern the meaning of his bloody wounds before we lie again.
The bloody wounds are the mouth of God.
They speak to us.
The vocabulary uttered through the mouth of God consists of just two words:
- that which passed through them and
- that which did not.
Thus, the language spoken through the mouth of God is very easy to understand.
With a vocabulary of only two words, the mouth of God revealed his true identity to us.
Buckets of blood poured through the bloody wounds we opened in his body. On this cataract of blood, his very life itself was carried from his body. Yet, not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us followed the buckets of blood through the wounds. 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 go. He clung to the life preserver of love with the iron grip of the drowning man tossed overboard into the stormy sea after his ship is sunk.
Our Dire Predicament
Like foolish children, Adam and Eve ran away from their home with God in paradise and took us with them into the valley of tears (Salve Regina). The valley of tears is not a nice place. In plain English, it sucks. Our predicament in the valley of tears is dire. Without God, the valley of tears is hostile territory. Monsters inhabit the valley of tears whose sole purpose is to make our lives miserable or worse. Many are the monsters. Monsters of illness, monsters of poverty, monsters of death, monsters of injustice, monsters of loneliness, etc. The list of monsters that inhabit the valley of tears goes on and on.
Godlessness is a sinking ship. Abandon Ship!" "Abandon Ship!" is the cry of the Church. "To the lifeboats!" "To the lifeboats!" the Church proclaims.
Do you feel the exigency of our dire predicament?
Do you feel the ship of godlessness sinking under your feet?
Our Conception of Rescue
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.
God's Conception of Rescue
God could have abandoned us to the monsters that prowl for us in the valley of tears. He could have let us eat the fruit of our folly. He could have said, "goodbye and good riddance." But he did not. God devised a plan to rescue us from our dire predicament in the valley of tears. His conception of rescue, however, is different than ours (Isaiah 55:8-9). 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. So God lets us stew in the sourness of godlessness.
God plans to deliver the gift of paradise to us just as he delivered the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve. God will not be less generous with us than he 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. God delivered the gift of life and the gift of paradise to Adam and Eve simultaneously. Yet, they fumbled the ball. They let the gift of paradise slip through their fingers. God does not want the children of Adam and Eve to repeat the original sin of their parents. When God delivers to us the gift of paradise, God wants us to keep it. He wants us to keep it without his having to turn paradise into a prison, himself into our warden and us into his prisoners. A cage is a cage no matter how gilded. He wants us to keep the gift of paradise of our own free will. To this end, God tweaked the timetable for the delivery of his gifts. God inserted a delay between the delivery of the gift of life and the gift of paradise. During the delay, we get to experience the sourness of godlessness for ourselves. Hot diggity dog!
Harsh but Effective Medicine
Why is God's rescue plan so harsh?
Letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness is harsh but effective medicine. In the eyes of God, the effectiveness of the medicine justifies its harshness so, therefore, God prescribes it.
Letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness achieves multiple purposes.
1) The serpent promised us deification in godlessness (Genesis 3:5). Our bitter experience in godlessness destroys the power of this lie to deceive us. Godlessness sucks. Life without God is a disaster. There is no stronger method of persuasion than personal experience with the truth. When we experience the truth for ourselves, we hold onto it with the highest degree of certainty. The serpent was a liar (Genesis 3:5) and that God was telling us the truth (Genesis 3:3). Our personal experience with the truth makes us sure of this. Like the prodigal son, we know from bitter experience about life in the pig sty.
2) The sourness of godlessness serves as one of the two engines that generates the current of salvation. It pushes us to the exit of godlessness. Rational people flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self interest to do otherwise.
3) When the gift of paradise is given to us, we will keep it. We will not fumble the ball as Eve did, as Adam did, as Lucifer did, and as the gaggle of angels who follow Lucifer did. The prodigal son is never going back to the pig sty and neither are we. Our experience in godlessness makes us know better than to return. We will keep the gift of paradise of our own free will without the need to turn paradise into a prison, God into our warden and us into prisoners. A cage is a cage no matter how gilded.
4) The economy of paradise is based on the currency of love. With ordinary currency, the more we spend, the poorer we grow. It is a paradox, but, we grow rich by spending the currency of love. The more we spend, the richer we get. Furthermore, love is twice blest (William Shakespeare, The Merchant of Venice, Act 4 Scene 1). "It blesseth him that gives and him that takes." Both the recipient and the donor enjoy the blessings of love. The valley of tears is the laboratory in which we experiment with the technology of applying love to suffering. Jesus transported the technology from heaven to earth, delivered it to us at Bethlehem and demonstrated that it works by using it himself at Calvary. The technology came to us in the form of a love note. The love note was tested to determine whether it was genuine or counterfeit at Calvary. The results of the test were published in the Resurrection. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he emerged from the dead still alive and still in love with us. He did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. The love note proved genuine. He clung to his love for us, held tight and refused to let go. He clung with the iron grip with which a drowning man clings to a life preserver who is tossed overboard in a stormy sea after his ship has sunk. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. Therefore, cling as Jesus clung. Love greases the wheels of our passage through the valley of tears. Suffering has the power to transmogrify us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. When suffering attacks us, it is a natural human tendency to fumble our grip on love - to let go of it. Jesus instructs us to deny ourselves (Matthew 16:24). He wants us to resist this natural human tendency. We resist by loving our way through suffering. Love enables us to pick up and carry the crosses that try to crush us under their weight (Matthew 16:24). Our suffering is magnified when we try to pick up and carry our crosses without love. Love is our dearest companion in times of suffering. When love is our companion as we pass through suffering, we endure. When we try to pass through suffering without love, we perish. In short, love kicks suffering's ass. In the valley of tears, we get opportunity after opportunity to put the technology of applying love to suffering into practice. Practice makes us perfect. If we put into practice the technology of applying love to suffering, we introduce ourselves to the economy of paradise. With love, we maintain the resemblance we bear to God (Genesis 1:27).
Our Complaints about God's Rescue Plan
Letting us stew in the sourness of godlessness generates all of the complaints about God's rescue plan (General Audience Pope Francis 28 Dec 2016). The harshness of godlessness keeps the complaint department of paradise busy. More than a few have cursed their bitter experience in godlessness and waived 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.
Mitigating the Sourness of Godlessness
Our sighs, mourning and weeping (Salve Regina) left our lips, reached God's ear and broke God's heart so God took steps to mitigate the suffering we experience as we pass through the valley of tears.
Mitigation: God limits Our Passage through the Valley of Tears to Just a Lifetime
God limits our passage through the valley of tears to just a lifetime. A lifetime is an infinitesimally thin slice of time when we compare it to the thickness of eternity. The brevity of life proves the mercy of God. If God were a sadist or harbored a desire to punish us, he would let us stew in the sourness of godlessness for more than a lifetime.
Mitigation: The Gift of the Technology of Applying Love to Suffering
The most Holy Trinity dispatched the Son of God on a two-part mission. Here are the mission's instructions:
- Transport from heaven to earth the technology of applying love to suffering and
- Demonstrate that the technology works by using it yourself as you hang from a Cross.
Why? Because love kicks sufferings ass. Love is suffering's invincible foe. As we pass through the valley of tears, the struggle that matters is the struggle between love and suffering. Suffering is persistently trying to empty our hearts of love. When we resist - when we cling to love, hold tight and refuse to let go, we are victorious. Only when we let suffering empty our hearts of love are we defeated. Clinging to love, holding tight and refusing to let go mitigates the friction we experience during our passage through the valley of tears. Love greases the wheels. With love, we can pick up our crosses and carry them. Without love, our crosses crush us under their weight. With love, we maintain the resemblance we bear to God (Genesis 1:27). Without love, suffering transmogrifies us into the most hideous and miserable of loveless beasts. We resist suffering by loving our way through it. Jesus refused to let suffering extinguish the bonfire of love that burns for us in his most sacred heart or reduce it by even the slightest degree.
The hope of the most Holy Trinity was that a successful demonstration of the technology by none other than the Son of God himself would inspire us to use the technology ourselves as we pass through the valley of tears. He hung from his Cross to teach us how to hang from ours. For your own sake, follow him. Resist suffering with love. The only way to unite your suffering with the suffering of Jesus is to resist suffering with love.
Mitigation: God Provided a Fleet of Lifeboats to Evacuate us from the Valley of Tears
Godlessness is a sinking ship. Our salvation requires that we abandon ship and get into the life boats. God provided a fleet of life boats to evacuate us from godlessness, ferry us through the valley of tears, and return us to our home with God and his holy family in paradise. God occupies the life boats. The life boats are the holy places that define the escape route from godlessness to paradise. In the life boats, close encounters with the living God take place. There we include God in our lives and God includes us in his. In the life boats, we are introduced to the economy of paradise. 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. In the life boats, we grow rich by spending the currency of love.
The Sweetness of Paradise
The sourness of godlessness is sufficient of itself to induce us to keep the gift of paradise when the gift of paradise is delivered to us. God, however, wanted to do more for us. So much time had passed since Adam and Eve had lived with God in paradise that its memory had faded from our minds. So the most Holy Trinity decided it was time to remind us of the sweetness of paradise. Therefore, the most Holy Trinity sent us a love note. What type of literature is the word of God? The word of God is a love note.
The Big Picture of Christianity
The Problem and solution
God is a philanthropist (Not a Sadist) (Click Here)
Fumbling the Ball (Click Here)
The Illusion Conjured Up by the Serpent
The Illusion (Click Here)
Godlessness (Click Here)
Shatter the Illusion with the Sledgehammer of Truth
The Sledgehammer of Truth (Click Here)
The Sourness of Godlessness
Harsh but effective Medicine (Click Here)
Why does evil exist in the valley of tears? (Click Here)
Speaking to us in Our Native Tongue (Click Here)
Fill the Earth With the Knowledge of God
The Son of God paid us a Visit
The Purpose of the Visit (Click Here)
The Yeast of Divinity (Click Here)
The Bloody Wounds We Opened in the Body of Christ ARE THE CONNECTION BETWEEN THE CRUCIFIXION AND THE RESURRECTION
More and Better Theology (Click Here)
Ending the Confusion (Click Here)
Nothing Escapes from the Dead. Nothing. With Jesus, two Details of Divinity did (Click Here)
The Telescope (Click Here)
Different Stories Unfolded on the Different Layers of Reality (Click Here)
The Mouth of the Word of God is His Bloody Wounds (Click Here)
Why did God give us two hands? (Click Here)
A One Gallon Tank Cannot Handle Two Gallons of Information (Click Here)
Why Body and Blood? Why not Neck and Nose? (Click Here)
The Mighty God who Defeated the Egyptians versus the "Puny" God whom the Romans Defeated (Click Here)
Articulating a High Fidelity Message (Click Here)
Our Failure to Piss Him Off (Click Here)
The Lesson of the Crucifixion (Click Here)
The Mission The Father Gave the Son was to Transport Technology from Heaven to Earth and to Demonstrate that the Technology Works by Using It
The Technology Jesus Transported and Demonstrated (Click Here)
The Sailor and the Storm (Click Here)
The Sweetness of Paradise
He kept not a penny for Himself (Click Here)
Amplification (Click Here)
What did Jesus Prove? (Click Here)
God Thought it so Important to Persuade us that God Loves us that God made a Great Investment in the Proof (Click Here)
The Dial that Controls his Love for us (Click Here)
Indestructibility (Click Here)
The Treasure of Christianity in Twenty-Three (23) Words (Click Here)
The Freight Train (Click Here)
God's Declaration of Independence (Click Here)
What type of literature is the word of God? (Click Here)
The Autobiography of God (Click Here) [Revised 11/26/2016]
- The Crucifixion was the difficult test. In the Resurrection are the results of the test.
The Piñata (Click Here)
Disconnecting the Results from the Test (Click Here)
The Escape from Godlessness to Paradise
The Escape Route (Click Here)
Safari (Click Here)
The Appeal is to our Rationality (Click Here)
The Three Stages of the Escape (Click Here)
The Holy Places that Define the Escape Route
- Climb to heaven on the ladder of prayer one rung at a time.
The Other Sacraments
The Role of the Church in the Escape
The Tour Guide (Click Here)
Safari (Click Here)
With What do you Bait the Hook to Fish for the Children of Adam and Eve (Click here)
The Ban on Women in the Workplace (Click Here)
Instant Coffee (Click Here)
The Two Tables (Click Here)
Bugs Frozen in Amber (Click Here)
Insensitivity to Sin (Click Here)
Shifting the Paradigm from Ptolemy to Copernicus (Click Here)
The New Evangelization
The Formula for Converting Sinners into Saints is Missing and the New Evangelization cannot start without it (Click Here)