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Why We Can Trust in God

One relationship and one relationship alone is trustworthy. Only one relationship is dependable. It is the relationship between a lover and his beloved. True love never lets us down. It never disappoints. It is the rock into which we can set the foundation of our lives . Always ask yourself, 'does he love me?'. If not, do not depend on him. He is not trustworthy. He is unreliable. His first priority is that which he loves , not you. Furthermore, couple true love and omnipotence and, voilà, we behold a unique and unbeatable combination. The combination of true love and omnipotence was revealed to us when we dragged Jesus through the worst of circumstances at Calvary - when we put him through the mill - when we baptized him in the boiling cauldron of torture and death - when we hung the piñata to the tree and beat him with sticks - when we impaled him onto the sharp hook of salvation with the same insouciance as the fisherman who impales a live worm on a sharp hook - when we put Jesus to the test. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, 1) He did not stay dead and 2) He did not stop loving us. These are the two byproducts that emerged from the test through which we put Jesus at Calvary. That he did not stay dead proved that Jesus is God. Nothing emerges from the black hole of death. He did. He emerged alive from the black hole of death. That he did not stop loving us, however, proved something more significant to us than the divinity of Jesus. It proved that His love for us is genuine. His love for us ought to have faded as we tortured him and ought to have died when we killed him. But it did not. It survived. By surviving the test of Calvary, we discovered that his love for us is genuine. Our lover is none other than the omnipotent God. In our corner is the omnipotent God who has our back as a lover has the back of his beloved . We can trust God because his love for us was put to the test and proved genuine. The evil we did to him did not extinguish his love for us or reduce it by even the slightest degree. His love for us is indestructible. Intransigent is God's love for us. Like a mighty rock, it cannot be moved.

Only Faith Makes It Possible to Take Risks for God

God has our back. We call the belief in this proposition faith. When we have faith, it is possible to take risks for him. Because God has our back, we can afford to turn the other cheek. Because God has our back, we can afford to be kind, generous and loving to our neighbors. Being kind, generous and loving to our neighbors is the sign that we believe that God has our back. If God did not have our back, none of these things would be possible.

A Demonstration of the Power of Love

The visit that the Son of God paid us more than two thousand years ago at and about the city of Jerusalem in a region of our planet known as the Middle East was a demonstration of the power of love. It was not an experiment. God knows that love trumps wickedness.

Love beats Wickedness

Rock beats scissors; scissors beats paper; paper beats rock. And love beats wickedness.

God loves sinners as much as he loves saints

What is the world's most interesting fact? What fact is at the top of the list? That God loves sinners as much as he loves saints is the world's most interesting fact. It is the fact at the top of the list of interesting facts. Contemplate its implications.

What is the more important fact? God loves us or we love God?

The Father wants his children to do good to one another not evil. Brothers and sisters do good to one another not evil.

Love Incarnate invites sinners to repent - to pick up the roots that they have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness - to make their escape from holy place to holy place that define the escape route of the new exodus through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy famility in the promised land - to seek paradise and flee godlessness - to become pilgrims instead of settlers - to experience close encounters with the living God at the holy places that define the escape route. The sweetness of paradise is Love Incarnate - the honey that draws the bees back home to the hive - the lighthouse that illuminates the way. Love Incarnate is the engine that pulls the children of Adam and Eve to the entrance of paradise. The sourness of godlessness is the engine that pushes them to its exit. Together, the two engines generate the current of salvation. But, an abyss seperates paradise and godlessness. To bridge the potential difference between the world of paradise and the world of godlessness, a conductor is needed. The bridge between the two worlds is Love Incarnate. He is the way, etc. We make the great leap from time to eternity through the bloody wounds we opened in the body of Christ. Through them, we make our escape from godlessness to paradise. The bloody wounds are the gateway to paradise.

To know him is to love him.

 
 

The Demonstration

Proof of the Proposition

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

At Calvary, the identity of Jesus was revealed through a demonstration. He put on a show. It revealed both the size and the duration of his love for sinners. The size of his love for sinners was revealed by the making of the payment itself. The demonstration was not free. Its production came at a cost. For the demonstration to work, the Son of God needed to pay its cost out of his own pocket. No payment; no demonstration. He paid the cost of the demonstration 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. The immensity of his love for us matches the exorbitant size of the payment he made (John 15:13). Moreover, the duration of his love for sinners was revealed by that which survived the payment. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. He rose from the dead still alive and still in love with us. The evil we did to him did not poke a hole in his most sacred heart and drain it of his love for us. His most sacred heart stayed filled to the brim with love for us. Buckets of blood spilled through the wounds we opened in his body but not a drop - not a drop - of his love for us spilled. Despite the evil we did to him, he continued to love us nonetheless. This tells us that his love for us is indestructible. Its duration is forever.

His willingness to let us baptize him in the boiling cauldron of pain and suffering - to pay the price - tells us in no uncertain terms that there is nothing he won't do for our salvation.

 
 

The Gospel of Irrationality

Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is against their self-interest to do otherwise. By wielding the sledgehammer of truth against the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness and the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise, the illusions get shattered, the truth becomes visible to us and settlers become pilgrims. Settlers are more interested in the roots they have sunk deep into the hostile desert of godlessness than in seeking God and fleeing godlessness. Settlers are stationary - sessile.  Pilgrims are on the move. Pilgrims have joined the new exodus led / served by the new Moses, the Church, and are making their escape through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Only by passing from holy place to holy place that define the escape route can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. The escape is the needle of the compass that always points in the direction of paradise. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. The gospel of Irrationality turns things positive into things negative. It promotes suicide - the denial of self - self-destruction. It is akin to wearing a sweater inside out. It still keeps you warm but it is an awkward presentation because the sweater was not meant to be worn inside out. Happiness is generated by having close encounters with the living God at the holy places that define the escape route from godlessness to paradise. Those who preach the gospel of irrationality tell us where God is not. Those who preach the gospel of rationality tell us where God is. God is found at the holy places that define the escape route. God is not found in our selfishness. The goal is to encounter God. The goal is not the denial of self. The glass is half full not half empty.

The Church is pathologically obessed with sin. It has bet the farm on sin. But you can't win with sin. The Church is losing its bet. Insted of taking us on expeditions to explore the mystery, majesty and magnifience of God, the Church incessantly warns us where God is not - where not to go. It is the gospel of negativity. There is nothing positive about it. The escape route through the hostile desert of godlessness is defined by holy places. At the holy places, the living God is. Sin is a digression from the escape route. There God is not - to the extent "is not" is possible for "I am who am". Is it possible to give God equal time? Is it possible to talk at least as much about the holy places as we talk about the digressions. The conversation is all about sin. Is it possbile to devote at least half of the conversation to him. Why? He is the sweetness of paradise. Unless the children of Adam and Eve come to know the sweetness of paradise, they will not seek it. It is necessary for our salvation that we seek the sweetness of paradise (and flee the sourness of godlessness).

To turn a sinner into a saint, first turn a settler into a pilgrim. To turn a settler into a pilgrim, shatter the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise and the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. Shatter the illusions with the sledgehammer of truth as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When the illusions are shattered and the truth becomes visible to us, we seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. The truth sets us free. The first business of the Church, therefore, is to shatter the illusions. Then, when the children of Adam and Eve exit the darkness of the illusions and enter the light of truth, in a state of disorientation, they will ask, 'how do we get there from here - from godlessness to paradise?'. When they are asking for directions, it becomes the appropriate time to tell them that the Church knows the way. God built an escape route from godlessness to paradise, 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 leading / serving the escape from godlessness to paradise as the New Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way. Morality comes last after a settler has been transformed into a pilgrim by exposure to the truth. Morality is the third and final stage of evangelization. Trying to get 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 is throwing pearls before swine. As settlers, they see morality as the straight jacket that imprisons them and not as the key that sets them free. Morality only has a chance to take hold in pilgrims. In summary, evangelization has three stages: 1) Shattering the illusions, 2) The Escape and 3) Morality.

The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself in the hands of the mud to show the mud how the mud can transform itself into God. The yeast of deification is love.

Sin is the millstone around the neck of the Church.

Sin is a crutch that bolsters a cleric whose understanding of God is crippled. Clerics rely on the crutch of sin who have no knowledge of God. Let us place a moratorium on talk of sin for 90 days. During the moratorium, let's just have a conversation about God. Do you think you can do it?

The Church has taught us to read, write and think for ourselves. Therefore, it cannot be heard to complain when we do do.

The Church has tried to jam doctrine down our throats by dint of omnipotence. This is a medieval not a modern tactic and it arises from a time when authority and hierarchy were rigid. Before we learned to read, write and think for ourselves, we docilely swallowed whatever they jammed down our throats. Times have changed. In modernity, we have learned to read, write and think for ourselves. Now, we no longer docilely swallow. Instead, the Church's heavy-handed tactic triggers our gag reflex. We regurgitate it. 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

Many misunderstand what transpires at the holy places that define the escape route of the new exodus through the hostile desert from godlessness to paradise. At the holy places, close encounters with the living God take place. A close encounter with the living God is not an occasion for us to take. It is an occasion for him to give. It is not about our taking but his giving. The gift that we are given during a close encounter is not for us to specify. It is always a surprise. Therefore, don't try to take from him. Accept what is given (Matthew 6:8) and unwrap the gift. We whirl, like a dervish, from holy place to holy place that define the escape route of the new exodus from godlessness to paradise because, at the holy places, the gift giver gives us gifts. Whirling from holy place to holy place like a dervish, that is, making our escape, is a very rational thing to do. Seeking gifts from the living God furthers our self-interest and advances our welfare. Therefore, make haste to the holy places and collect your gifts. Did I mention that our God is generous?

 

Jesus with just divinity is no different than any other god - and we have worshiped many other gods (Exodus 20: 1-3). Jesus who loves sinners is the God who is unique (Isaiah 6:1-5) (Revelation 4:1-9). Love for sinners is the aspect of Jesus that makes him unique. It is the ingredient that makes paradise sweet. Rational creatures seek the sweetness of paradise (Proverbs 8:17) [and flee the sourness of godlessness]. It is against our self-interest to do otherwise.

We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Why? Why did our God let us do this evil to him? The evil we did to him furnished the circumstances in which he could demonstrate to us both the size (immense) and the duration (indestructible) of his love. No evil done to him; no demonstration of his love for us.

Rock beats scissors; scissors beats paper; paper beats rock. And love beats wickedness. Only his love for sinners extinguishes our wickedness. It extinguishes our wickedness like a wet blanket extinguishes a fire - like the gushing water from a fire hose extinguishes a conflagration. Our wickedness is no match to his gushing love for sinners. The flame of wickedness does not extinguish the water of love. The water of love extinguishes the flame of wickedness. It is important to take notice of the direction in which wickedness and love flow.

What is man, that thou art mindful of him? and the son of man, that thou visitest him? (Psalm 8:4 KJV)

The Indestructibility of God's Love for Sinners

The God who fashioned us out of the mud with his hands put himself into the hands of the mud to reveal to the mud the sweetness of paradise. The sweetness of paradise is God's indestructible love for sinners. Its indestructibility was proven to us at Calvary. His love for us survived the evil we did to him. The sweetness of paradise is the honey that lures the bees back home to the hive. God let us impale the Son of God upon the sharp hook of salvation while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and our guest upon the earth. We impaled the live bait on the sharp hook with the same insouciance as the fisherman who impales a worm on the hook. The live bait was then cast into the cesspools of sin to fish for the children of Adam and Eve. Many have taken the bait hook, line and sinker.

 

Paradise

God's omnipotence made paradise.

God's indestructible love for sinners makes paradise sweet.

 

The Bigger Bang

At Calvary, good and evil collided. The collision was bigger than the big bang. It was larger than the Large Hadron Collider. The collision produced two byproducts: 1) He did not stay dead and 2) He did not stop loving sinners. That he did not stay dead is the proof that Jesus is God. That he did not stop loving sinners, however, is the proof of so much more than his divinity. It is the proof that divinity is love.

The Dial that Controls His Love for Sinners

The dial that controls his love for sinners is in his hands not ours. Moreover, it is set to the highest degree and is locked in place.

 

The Firewall between the Evil that Sinners do and God's Indestructible Love for Them

Between the evil that we, sinners, did to Jesus and his love for sinners is a firewall - a great abyss. They are disconnected. His love for sinners is greater than the evil that sinners do to him. Never underestimate his love for sinners.

The New Moses

The Church is the new Moses. It is the leader / servant of the escape. The escape is taking place and is now in progress on the escape route through the hostile desert of godlessness from slavery under the yoke of Pharaoh to freedom with God and his holy family in the promised land. Only by passing from holy place to holy place that define the escape route can we be sure that we are heading in the right direction. The escape is the needle of the compass that always points in the direction of paradise. The escape from godlessness to paradise is primary. Nothing else matters. Everything else is secondary. Anything that interferes is suspect. 

 

The Three Stages of Evangelization

To turn a sinner into a saint, first turn a settler into a pilgrim. To turn a settler into a pilgrim, shatter the illusion that camouflages the sweetness of paradise and the illusion that sugarcoats the sourness of godlessness. Shatter the illusions with the sledgehammer of truth as the blow of a hammer shatters glass. When the illusions are shattered and the truth becomes visible to us, we seek the sweetness of paradise and flee the sourness of godlessness. It is contrary to our self-interest to do otherwise. The truth sets us free. The first business of the Church, therefore, is to shatter the illusions. Then, when the children of Adam and Eve exit the darkness of the illusions and enter the light of truth, in a state of disorientation, they will ask, 'how do we get there from here - from godlessness to paradise?'. When they are asking for directions, it becomes the appropriate time to tell them that the Church knows the way. God built an escape route from godlessness to paradise, 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 leading / serving the escape from godlessness to paradise as the New Moses. The Church has the map and knows the way. Morality comes last after a settler has been transformed into a pilgrim by exposure to the truth. Morality is the third and final stage of evangelization. Trying to get 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 is throwing pearls before swine.  As settlers, they see morality as the straight jacket that imprisons them and not as the key that sets them free.  Morality only has a chance to take hold in pilgrims. In summary, evangelization has three stages: 1) Shattering the illusions, 2) The Escape and 3) Morality.

 

Communities of Love

With whom do you hang out? Our happiness depends on spending our time with people who love us. That is why we must allocate a significant subset of our time to the God who loves us. Our happiness depends on it. Spending your time with people who do not love you does not produce happiness. People who do not love you just want to take from you. Bartenders do not love you. They just want to take your money. Drug dealers do not love you. They too just want to take your money. Pornographers and other dealers in vice do not love you but just want to take from you. Therefore, avoid them and seek out communities of love. The Trinity is a community of love. God invites us to join it. When you abided in your mother's womb, she just wanted to give to you. There you were happy. Abortion is horrific because it destroys a community of love. Whenever a community of love fails, it is a loss for the world (No Man is an Island by John Donne). Your family is a community of love. Its members just want to give to you. There you are happy. Marriage is a community of love. Spouses just want to give to each other. There you are happy. When the love stops in a community of love, the happiness stops as well. Moreover, communities of love can be built. You can do it by loving your neighbor. By loving your neighbor, a community of love gets built. Love begets love. Jesus is in the process of building a community of love that includes all of us. He does so by loving us. Avoid the vampires who just want to take from you. Seek the lovers who just want to give to you. Happiness is found in communities of love. Unless you are in the process of building a new community of love, spend little time outside of your communities of love. Furthermore, always be ready to open the door of your communities of love to your neighbors.

 

Behold, in twenty-two words, the crux of Christianity. We tortured and killed him. He suffered and died. Yet, he did not stay dead and he did not stop loving us. Can Christianity be expressed more succinctly? In the events described by these twenty-two words, the identity of Jesus was revealed to us. That he did not stay dead is the proof that Jesus is God. That he did not stop loving us is the proof that divinity is love - a love so profligate that it extends to sinners - to the imperfect - to the unworthy - to the broken - to we who are damaged goods.

How do we get from here to there - from godlessness to paradise? We opened bloody wounds in the body of Christ and, thereby, pierced the veil between heaven and earth. On the near side of his bloody wounds is the sourness of godlessness. On the far side of his bloody wounds is the sweetness of paradise. Through his bloody wounds, we make our escape from godlessness to paradise. The escape starts in godlessness, passes through his bloody wounds, and finishes in paradise . He is the way, etc. . He is the bridge between the world of godlessness and the world of paradise. The current of salvation that arises from the potential difference between the sourness of godlessness and the sweetness of paradise flows through his bloody wounds. He is the conductor through which passes the current of salvation. It carries us from godlessness to paradise. All roads from godlessness to paradise pass through his bloody wounds. Through them is the way back home to paradise.

The body and the blood of the most Holy Eucharist point to the bloody wounds we opened in the body of Christ while he was human, alive, tender, vulnerable and our guest here upon the earth. They are a telescope . Do not just look at them. Look through them. By looking through them we catch a glimpse of heaven from here on earth. Look through them to behold the sweetness of paradise .

 From  the Church of San Francesco  in Arezzo, Italy

From the Church of San Francesco in Arezzo, Italy