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By Deacon Scott Sparks, Integrated Catholic Life, Sept. 25, 2018
My favorite definition of Free Will is the shortest explanation as well. God made you without you. God can’t save you without you. The same definition can be used for the Bible as well, especially the New Testament. Jesus is continually reminding us how to be saved.
Jesus reminds us that the Ten Commandments are the baseline from which we can begin our path to holiness. Then Jesus gives us the Beatitudes which tell us how we need to behave on the path to holiness.
Jesus reminds us in the bread of life discourse, that we need to eat his flesh and drink his blood or we will not have eternal life.
In the parable of the ten virgins waiting for the bridegroom, Jesus teaches that we must be ready when God calls us because we do not know the day or the hour when our lives will be called. That parable is reinforced by the story of the wealthy man who will certainly protect his home if knows when the thief will come to his house.
We need to place ourselves in the Bible stories. In the parable of the Prodigal Son, we are the son who leaves the Father (God). Once we realize that we have been lost, we come humbly back to the Father. Whenever Jesus scolds the Pharisees, we must put ourselves into the story as one of the Pharisees since Jesus is directing his comments to us as well.
In many of the Bible stories, Jesus directly tells us what we need to do. We see this when Jesus tells the Pharisees that what goes into the mouth is not sinful but what comes out, in words or thoughts, can indeed be sinful. Jesus then lists many sinful acts. The same is true for the bread of life discourse.
Too often we remember only the obvious parts of Bible stories. For example in the feeding of the five thousand, we normally don’t think much about the ending where Jesus tells the disciples to pick up the remains.
I always just thought that Jesus was the first environmentalist but the reality is much greater. Jesus tells us not to waste a single bit of the gifts he gives us. We must fully use our gifts to help us progress towards holiness. Also, the remains fill twelve baskets, one for each apostle. God will always feed us and care for us if we only follow Him.
I’ve been battling cancer since 2009.
After my first operation, I told myself to man up and beat this by myself. After a few months I realized I needed help so I decided to go to our cancer support group. I expected to find a group of discouraged, frustrated, angry people but what I found was a family of people joyfully sharing their journeys, their prayers and especially their joys.
One night I asked those gathered for our monthly meeting what cancer meant to them. One after another said they thanked God for their cancer. Cancer had made them celebrate the gift of each day, to use it to the fullest and to take at least one small step on the road to holiness each day. Only through being prepared to have God call us home can we be sure to find the true happiness that eludes us here on earth.
There are two talks that none of us ever wish to have. The first is the sex talk with our mother or father. After all, they are so old and so out of it. The second is the one with your oncologist where the oncologist says based on your cancer, its spread, and the myriad of studies to draw from, you have x amount of life left. I had that talk in February. I went through most of the stages of grief…depression, frustration and anger. I came out of it by reading the Bible and being reminded that only God knows the day and the hour. So now I think of myself as having terminal life. Each of you also has terminal life.
Please don’t wait for a tragedy or a tragic diagnosis to push you to seek the path to holiness. Study the Bible. Listen to Jesus’ warning and teaching. Look for the hidden messages. Fully use the gifts that God has given you and just be ready because we do not know the day or the hour that God will call us home.