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A Brief History of Christianity

by Fr. Siro Dal Degan, O.S.J.


CHAPTER 1

The Fall

From the beginning, God had included
freedom in creation's plan,
freedom for His angels,
freedom for His men.
He wanted them to freely love
and freely serve;
to live in harmony and peace,
without quarrels and without complaints.

But, as time passed, some angels
looked at themselves and said:
"We are beautiful, we are wise,
we are good; we are like God."

Then Lucifer, the most beautiful,
the most wise,
the most perfect of the angels,
cried out in a loud voice:
"I will not serve !"
His followers, too, cried out
in a loud voice in unison:
"We will not serve either!"
The silence of God's creation
was broken,
and so was also its harmony and its
law of love.

And so God made a place for them,
a place made in their own image and likeness,
and they eagerly rushed to inherit it.
It became their reign, the reign of Hell,
where there is no love, but only hatred;
where there is no harmony, but only chaos and darkness;
where there is no silence and peace, but only quarrels and fights;
where untold miseries and sufferings are forever.

The fallen angels, however, were not restrained by God
to dwell in their freely chosen reign,
but were allowed to roam the earth among the sons of man.


Adam and Eve

And it came to pass that one day Lucifer,
engaged in conversation with the woman,
deceived her into believing that she, too, was
very beautiful, very wise, very good, and should be like God.
She in turn deceived her husband
and together were banished from the presence of the Most High.
Their minds were dulled by pride,
their eyes dimmed by sin.
They could not see God any more
nor perceive His presence clearly from that day on.

The silence and harmony of God's creation
had been broken again,
as well as its law of love.
Man blamed the woman and the woman blamed the serpent;
Cain killed Abel and the children of man committed abominable sins.

When the citizen of Babel presumed to climb up to heaven
and mankind had filled the earth with evil and all kinds of
abominations. God sent upon the earth a great flood
(a sign of the waters of baptism) to wash away every impurity and sin,
and to restore mankind on the path of righteousness.
But men did not desist from any of the sins their fathers had committed.
They did evil in the sight of the Lord God;
they did not desist from sin and violence.

Because chaos and sin had covered the earth,
even nature was cursed. More and more the land produced
only thorns and thistles, and man had
to toil the fields to eat their yield; by the sweat of his brow
he procured for himself bread to eat.
Nature groaned inwardly for redemption,
but it was not to be given to it
until redemption would be given to the sons of man.
CHAPTER 3

The Plan of Salvation

In His infinite wisdom and love,
God steadfastly sustained His creation in silence, harmony, and love.
For the sons of man, whom He deeply loved,
God had created innumerable galaxies
and let spring from the earth and the seas
all kinds of plants, animals, fish, and birds of the air.

He had created man a little less than the angels
and had entrusted to him the stewardship of all His creation.
He had made him little less than a god;
with glory and honor He had crowned him;
He had given him power over the works of His hands,
and had put all things under his feet (Psalm 8:6-7).
But man proved unworthy of His trust and love.

However, God still loved the sons of man very deeply
and He had yet to show the depth of His love.
He drew a plan to free man from sin and from the power of darkness
so that the sons of man could be restored to His fellowship and love.
Then the Son came forward and said:
"I myself will become a man so that men may become gods
and be one with Us."
And the Holy Spirit said:
"I will be with them, as I have been from the beginning,
and will manifest myself to them even more fully and powerfully
in the fullness of time."

And so it was.
God continued to sustain and love His creation in silence;
the Holy Spirit lived in the hearts of men of good will
and opened the eyes of the humble to the mysteries of the Most High
urging them to live in harmony with God and all His creation;
and God's holy angels walked with the sons of man
and watched over them day and night
as a service of love.

CHAPTER 4

God's Chosen People

When the time came to begin His work of salvation. God called
Abraham out of the land of Ur. Because Abraham believed in the promises
God the Most High had made to him, he became the father of all those whom
God had chosen to be His own, those who put their faith and trust in Him.
Abraham begot Isaac and Isaac begot Jacob. Jacob begot twelve sons from
whom came the Twelve Tribes of Israel.

For four hundred years the Twelve Tribes of Israel dwelt in the land of
Egypt. There they increased and multiplied, because the God of Abraham,
Isaac, and Jacob was with them and His guardian angels watched over them.

Then, when the time came for the fulfillment of the promises made to
their father Abraham, God, the Most High, brought His Chosen People out of
the land of Egypt with powerful hand and outstretched arm. Through blood
and water He led them and, with infinite patience and love. He guided them
through the desert into His promised land where they were to increase and
multiply even more, becoming a numerous and powerful nation.

To them on Mount Sinai, He repeated His law and commandments:
"In my own image and likeness I created you. Therefore, you shall serve the
Lord your God with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your strength,
and your neighbor as yourself. Be holy for I am holy."

Through forty years in the desert. God taught His people to place their
total trust in Him; He strengthened them to accept with patient endurance
and without grumbling any trial and tribulation that the day would bring;
and called them to live a life of self-sacrifice and of service to one another.

And so it was that God began to gather to Himself and set apart a
chosen race, a holy nation, a royal priesthood, a people He claimed for His
own to proclaim His glorious works (1 Pet. 2:9). They were meant to be the
first of many more to be invited to the wedding feast of His Son and His
Bride, the Church, which was to include all the nations of the earth. With
loving care. He prepared them to welcome the Messiah and, through His holy
prophets. He urged them to live according to His law of love.

The Foreshadowing of the Church

When the Lord God first chose Israel from among the nations to be
His own people, "He spread the comer of His cloak over her to cover her
nakedness. He took pity on her because she was so poor and insignificant, the
least of the nations. Yet, He swore an oath to her and entered into a covenant
with her. She became the Lord's possession and He took her as His own bride.

Then He bathed her in water, washed away her impurities, and anointed her
with oil. He clothed her with an embroidered gown, put sandals of fine
leather on her feet, and gave her a fine linen sash and silk robes to wear. He
adorned her with jewelry, put bracelets on her arms, a necklace about her
neck, pendants in her ears, and a glorious diadem upon her head. Thus she
was adorned with gold and silver; her garments were of fine linen, silk, and
embroidered cloth. Fine Hour, honey, and olive oil were her food. She was
exceedingly beautiful, with the dignity of a queen. She was renowned among
the nations for her beauty, perfect as it was, because the splendor of God had
been lavishly bestowed upon her" (Ez. 16:8-14).

By entering into a holy covenant and a holy marriage with Israel, God
the Most High intended to give us a foreshadowing of the new and
everlasting covenant and marriage His Son would enter into and would
ratify with the shedding of His own blood, a blood that will be shed not for
one man or one nation only, but for all men and for all nations, past, present,
and future, till the end of time, so that all men could share in the grace and
glory of the sons of God and be gathered again into one holy family with God
as their Father.
CHAPTER 5

The Exile

But a later generation arose that did not know the Lord Most High and
what He had done for Israel. They abandoned the Lord to serve the Baals; they
committed all sorts of sins and abominations; and paid only lip service to the
God of their fathers and to His law of love. They quarrelled and fought
among themselves; they abused the widows and the orphans; and paid no
heed to the voice of the Spirit speaking through God's holy prophets. They
had eyes to see, but could not see; ears to hear, but could not hear. The
darkness of error, sin, and violence covered the earth and the holy prophets
longed and cried out for the coming of the Redeemer.

And it came to pass that God, the Most High, to open the eyes and ears
of His people, allowed them to be removed in chains from their land and the
holy temple to be razed to the ground. For seventy years He purified them in
a foreign land with misery and suffering and, when perfected. He brought
them back to their land, a land now covered with thorns and thistles. With
sorrow in their hearts and tears in their eyes, the sons of Israel started to
rebuild the temple and their cities, to till the soil and to gather the harvest. In
the harshness of their lives, they were constant in prayer and in the
observance of the law.

But God, in His inscrutable love and wisdom, allowed foreign
emperors and evil kings to take possession of the land and to persecute His
people, so that they more and more cried out to heaven for the Redeemer and
Messiah.

The Savior

In the fullness of time, when the time had come to fulfill the plan of
salvation that God had prepared from the beginning. He sent to earth His
own Son, born of the Holy Spirit and of the Virgin Mary, who was espoused to
a man named Joseph, of the House of David.

In the silence of night the love of God became visible; His co-etemal
Son was born as a human baby at Bethlehem of Judaea. The light of the Most
High began to dispel the darkness of sin and error, and every man of good
will rejoiced in the marvelous day the Lord had made. Those who had been
waiting for the Light of the World to appear came, saw, and believed. They
knelt in adoration before the Child and worshiped the Most High God now
visible in human form.

Although King Herod sought to kill the Child, the Most High
prevented it because the time and the hour had not yet come for Him to be
delivered to suffering and death.


The Holy Family of God

The Child Jesus grew in age, wisdom, and grace before God and men
under the loving watchfulness and care of Mary and Joseph. For thirty years
He grew in silence, harmony, and love in the Holy Family at Nazareth of
Galilee, in the image and likeness of God's Holy Trinity. Thus, for thirty years
God's law of silence, harmony, and love reigned undisturbed and supreme in
the Holy Family of Jesus, Mary, and Joseph as an example for all men to
follow.

From the very beginning of creation, the Church was foreshadowed as
the Holy Family of God. Now, in the Holy Family of Nazareth, the Church
received concreteness and in a remarkable way she was presented with an
image of the type of community she was to become.
From the very beginning, the Church was foreshadowed and prepared
in a remarkable way through the history of the people of Israel and, even
more clearly, in the covenant and marriage between God and His people.
Established by the Lord Jesus in the present era, the Church is to grow in
silence, harmony, and love among the nations and be made manifest as the
light and life of the world.

At the end of time, she will achieve her glorious
fulfillment of a perfect union with God the Father, the Son, and the Holy
Spirit; a union full of grace and glory, light and life (Vat. II).


CHAPTER 6

Jesus Is Our Lord and God

Though He was the Son of God,
Jesus did not deem equality with God
something to be grasped at,
as Adam and Eve did.
Rather, He emptied Himself
and became man - a servant, a slave -
being bom in the likeness of men.

He was known to be of human estate,
as indeed He was,
and it was thus that He humbled Himself
obediently accepting everything that the Father had decreed.

He took upon Himself the sins and sufferings of all men
and, though sinless. He accepted even death,
death on a cross,
so that men could be freed from the bondage of sin and death,
and of the Evil One.

Because of this God highly exalted Him
and bestowed on Him a name of glory and power
above every other name,
so that at Jesus' name every knee must bend in worship
in the heavens, on the earth, and under the earth,
and every tongue proclaim to the glory of God the Father
that JESUS CHRIST IS LORD AND GOD! (Cf. Phil. 2:6-11)

The Good News

When the time came for Him to be glorified, that is, to suffer and to
die for us, the Lord Jesus set out from Nazareth and, anointed with the Spirit,
walked throughout Galilee, Judaea, Samaria, and the surrounding areas
preaching the good news of God's love and forgiveness, the need for
repentance, and the requirement of a baptism leading to a new birth and
holiness of life in the Spirit of God.

By word and by example, the Lord Jesus taught every man of good will
to live in the image and likeness of God, in silence, harmony, and love. He
went about doing good, healing all who were in the grip of the Devil, and
God was with Him.

He did not seek to be served, but to serve; to be loved, but to love. His
message was: "Repent, change your way of life! Forgive one another, as the
Father has forgiven you. Do not grumble against one another; love instead
one another as I have loved you. Be of service to one another and be willing
to lay down even your life for your friends."


CHAPTER 7

Jesus' Teaching on Silence, Harmony, and Love (The Heart of the Meaning of Life!)
One day, when a large crowd had gathered around Him, Jesus went up
on a mountainside and sat down to teach them. He opened His mouth and
said:

"HOW BLESSED ARE THE POOR IN SPIRIT; the reign of God is
theirs. How blessed are those who are content with their daily bread and are
not anxious about tomorrow nor to gather more than they need. Blessed are
they because, if they seek first the kingdom of God and do His will, everything
else will be given to them. How much more will their heavenly Father take
care of them who cares for the birds of the air and the lilies of the field.

BLESSED, TOO, ARE THE SORROWING: they shall be consoled. How
blessed are those who are tried like gold in the furnace. Their bodies and souls
are refined much more perfectly than gold or silver in the refiner's fire, and
their heavenly Father gathers from them abundant fruit at harvest time, as
from a well pruned vine laden with grapes. Your heavenly Father is the
vinegrower and prunes away every barren branch, but the fruitful ones He
trims clean to increase their yield (John 15:1-2). He is like a master craftsman
who chips away at a block of marble. He will not rest until He has brought
forth the masterpiece He had planned to create. In your pains and sorrows, in
your trials and tribulations, therefore, do not weep or lament. Rejoice instead
and be glad, because God has tried you and found you worthy of Himself
(Wis. 3:5).

BLESSED, TOO, ARE THE LOWLY: they shall inherit the land. They
set their hearts and souls in silence and peace, and shall not be disturbed. As a
child has rest in his mother's arms, so are they. They know that man's life is
just a breath. It is like a flower that blossoms in the morning and by evening
it whithers and fades (Ps. 90:6). But in their lowliness they sing the glory of
God the Almighty who has given them life, even for just one day.

BLESSED ARE THEY WHO HUNGER AND THIRST FOR HOLINESS:
they shall have their fill. Come to me, all of you who thirst, and I will give
you a water leaping up to provide eternal life. Everyone who drinks this
water will never be thirsty again (John 4:13-14). Come to me, all you who
hunger, and I will give you a bread come down from heaven, a bread that will
make you holy as God is holy.

BLESSED ARE THEY WHO SHOW MERCY: mercy shall be theirs. As
your heavenly Father shows mercy toward you all, who are weak, fragile,
broken by sin and evil desires, so must you show mercy toward your brothers
and sisters. Forgive and you shall be forgiven. Put aside now all anger and
quick temper, all insults and foul language, all malice and lying. Put aside
your old self and put on a new man, one who grows in the knowledge of the
ways of God and is formed anew in the image and likeness of his Creator.
Because you are God's chosen ones, holy and beloved, clothe yourselves with
heartfelt mercy, with kindness, humility, meekness and patience. Bear with
one another; forgive whatever grievances you have against one another;
forgive as the Lord has forgiven you (Col. 3:5-13).

BLESSED ARE THE SINGLE-HEARTED AND THE PURE OF HEART:
they shall see God. Blessed are they who see the goodness and splendor of
God, His image and likeness, reflected in every creature. He who knows how
to see, knows also how to believe, because the one who really sees, believes.
Blessed, therefore, are those who contemplate the wisdom and love of God
present in all His creation and give honor and glory to their Creator. Blessed
are they because they have eyes to see and they see; they have ears to hear and
they hear.

BLESSED, TOO, ARE THE PEACEMAKERS: they shall be called sons of
God. Blessed are they who live in harmony with Cod's creation and with one
another, for they do the will of their Father in heaven. If you come to the
altar and remember that your brother has something against you, go first to be
reconciled with your brother and then come and offer your gift (Matt. 5:23-24).
Be of one mind and one heart all of you, united in spirit and ideals. Never act
out of rivalry or conceit; rather, let all parties think humbly of others as
superior to themselves, each one of you looking to others' interests rather
than his own (Phil. 2:2-4).

BLESSED ARE THOSE PERSECUTED FOR JUSTICE' S SAKE: the reign
of God is theirs. Do you think I have come to establish peace on earth? I
assure you, the contrary is true. I have come for division. From now on, even
a household of five will be divided three against two and two against three;
father will be split against son and son against father (Luke 12:49-53). You
must bear witness to the truth: I am the Truth. You must stand up for the
sake of justice: I am Justice. You must come forward and defend life, even
from the moment of conception, for I am Life. If you deny me, I will deny you
on the day of judgement (2 Tim. 2:12-13). If the whole world goes against
truth, justice and life, then you certainly must go against the whole world (Cf.
St. Athanasius). Your heavenly Father is the Lord of History and His divine
providence guides the affairs of men. He will not be defeated by evil. So stand
by Him who can draw good even from evil.

BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN THEY INSULT YOU AND PERSECUTE
YOU and utter every kind of slander against you because of me: be glad and
rejoice, for your reward in heaven is great. For thus says the Lord God, the
Holy One of Israel: By waiting and by calm you shall be saved; in quiet and in
trust your strength lies (Is. 30:15). All will hate you because of me, yet not a
hair of your head will be harmed. By patient endurance, you will save your
souls (Luke 21:17-19). Calm your anger and forget your rage. Do not fret, for it
only leads to evil. For those who do evil shall perish; the patient will inherit
the Kingdom (Ps. 37). Rather, be glad and rejoice, because you have been
made worthy to suffer something because of me" (Cf. Acts 5:41).
CHAPTER 8

Jesusí Teaching on Discipleship
In the course of His teaching to His disciples, the Lord Jesus taught all
those who wanted to follow Him a new way of life, a life in the image and
likeness of God of whom He himself was the perfect image and likeness made
visible in His human flesh for all men to see.

On Silence

He said to them: "Do not grumble against one another; do not find
faults with one another; do not speak ill of one another (James 4:11; 5:9). Do
not grow angry with your brother and do not use abusive language against
him (Matt. 5:22). Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, and even
slower to anger; for man's anger does not fulfill God's justice (James 1:19-20).
If you are angry, let it be without sin. The sun must not go down on your
wrath. Do not give the devil a chance to work on you (Eph. 4:26-27).

Watch your tongue and refrain it from speaking evil. See how tiny is
the spark that sets a forest on fire. The tongue is just a tiny organ, but sparks
just as deadly a flame. It is full of malice and its fire is kindled by evil. It is
restless evil, full of deadly poison, and wounds more deeply than a two-edged
sword. You use it to say, 'Praise the Lord,' and then to curse men, though they
are made in the image and likeness of God. Blessing and curse come out of
the same mouth! This is not to be so, my brothers! (James 3:2-12). Be silent
and speak only words that men need to hear for their encouragement and
edification.

On Suffering and Silence

If a man wishes to come after me and be my disciple, he must be
willing, without grumbling or complaining, to renounce all his possessions,
to leave his family and friends, to take up his daily cross, and, yes, even to
deny his very self. Only then can he really follow in my footsteps (Luke 14:25-
33).

For I solemnly assure you: The Son of Man must go up to Jerusalem and
suffer greatly there at the hand of the elders, the chief priests, and the scribes,
and be put to death; but He will be raised up on the third day. I assure you,
whoever does not accept suffering and persecution for my sake without
grumbling or complaining, does not judge life by God's standards, but by
man's (Matt. 16: 23-25).

Do not let Satan deceive you: It is through suffering and death that the
Son of Man will save the world. In like manner, no follower of mine will be
saved unless he, too, renounces selfishness, does the will of the Father, and
accepts from Him lovingly and with joy all the pains and sufferings each day
will bring. Let not Satan or any human wisdom deceive you. May you,
instead, never boast of anything, except of the cross of the Son of Man and His
wounds, wounds which you, too, must bear in your own body (Cf. Gal. 6:14-
17).
On Harmony

Get rid of all bitterness, all passion and anger, harsh words, slander
and malice of every kind. In place of these, be kind to one another,
compassionate, and mutually forgiving, just as God has forgiven you. Do
nothing to sadden the Holy Spirit with whom you will be sealed for your day
of redemption (Eph. 4:29-32).

Rather, encourage one another. Live in
harmony and peace with one another, and the God of love and peace will be
with you (2 Cor. 13:11). All of you should be like-minded, sympathetic, loving
toward one another, kindly disposed, and humble (1 Pet. 3:8).

Love your enemies; pray for those who persecute you; do good to those
who hate you. If your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him
something to drink. Do not be conquered by evil, but conquer evil with good
(Rom. 12:17-21). Do not return evil for evil, or insult for insult. Return a
blessing instead.

This you have been called to do by your Father, so that you
may receive a blessing from Him as your inheritance (1 Pet. 3:9). This will
prove that you are truly children of your heavenly Father, for His sun rises
on the good and the bad; His rain falls on the just and the unjust, and never
strikes with vengeance those who hate or insult Him. Therefore, treat others
as you would like them to treat you. Be perfect as your heavenly Father is
perfect (Matt. 8:12).

Do not hassle over inheritance . If your brother wants your coat, give
him your shirt as well. If he wants your house, give him your field as well,
for it is better to give than to receive, to store up treasures in heaven than to
cling to things of earth. Where your treasure is, there is your heart also" (Cf.
Matt 6:19-21).

On Love

Jesus said to His disciples:
"You shall love the Lord your God
with your whole heart,
with your whole soul,
and with your whole mind.
This is the greatest and first commandment.

The second is like it:
You shall love your neighbor as yourself.

On these two commandments the whole law is based, and the prophets as
well (Matt. 22:37-40). If anyone says, 'I love God,' yet hates his brother, he is a
liar. One who has no love for his brother whom he sees cannot love God
whom he does not see. Whoever loves God must also love his brother (1
John 4: 20-21). Therefore, I say to you all:

Feed the hungry.
Give drink to the thirsty.
Clothe the naked.

Shelter the homeless.
Visit the sick.
Visit the imprisoned.
Bury the dead.

Counsel the doubtful,
Instruct the ignorant,
Admonish the sinner,
Forgive injuries,
Bear wrong patiently,
Pray for the living,
Pray for the dead.


The Last Judgment

Let me solemnly assure you: when the Son of Man comes in His glory
escorted by all the angels of heaven. He will sit upon His royal throne and all
the nations will be assembled before Him.

Then He will separate them into
two groups, as a shepherd separates sheep from goats. The sheep. He will
place on His right hand and the goats on His left. Then He will say to those on
His right: 'Come! You have my Father's blessing! Inherit the kingdom
prepared for you. For

I was hungry and you gave me food;
I was thirsty and you gave me a drink;
I was a stranger and you welcomed me;
I was naked and you clothed me;
I was ill and you comforted me;
I was in prison and you came to visit me.'

Then the just will ask Him, 'Lord, when did we do such things to
you?' And the Son of Man will answer them: 'I assure you, as often you did
any of these things for the least of my brothers, you did it for me.'

Then He will say to those on His left: 'Out of my sight, you evildoers,
condemned into the everlasting fire prepared for the Devil and his angels!

For
I was hungry and you gave me no food;
I was thirsty and you gave me no drink;
I was away from home and you gave me no welcome;
naked and you gave me no clothing;
I was ill and in prison and you did not come to comfort me.'

These will go off to eternal punishment and the just to eternal life
(Matt. 25:31-46). Therefore, be kind and show compassion; love and serve one
another as it is befitting of the children of God. The way you will treat one
another will be the way God the Father will treat you."

Conclusion of Jesus' Teaching

It was with these and similar words that the Lord Jesus taught His
followers to live in the image and likeness of God, in silence, harmony, and
love. He offered them the example of His life and said to them, "Follow me.
As I have done, so you also must do. "

When the Lord Jesus finished His teaching and closed His mouth. He
left the crowds spellbound, because He taught with authority and power, and
not like their scribes (Matt. 7:28-29). They came to believe that His words were
truly bread from heaven and that all those who would eat of this bread would
surely inherit everlasting life.

The Lord Jesus spoke to the crowds on many other occasions and in
many different places throughout Palestine, Syria, Lebanon, and the region
beyond the Jordan revealing to them the Father's love and His plan of
salvation. Being with Him day and night, the Lord Jesus explained to His
apostles and disciples even in more detail this loving plan of the Father and
the requirements of the Kingdom. Thus He fully prepared them for the
mission they were to undertake.

CHAPTER 9

Jesus' Suffering and Death

When the Lord Jesus had finished to deliver the good news of God's
forgiveness and love, and had called all men to become one holy family in
the Lord, He allowed Himself to be led like a lamb to the slaughter. Though
He was harshly treated. He opened not His mouth and submitted Himself to
injury and death (Is. 53:7).

He opened not His mouth in self defense, nor did
He strike back against those who slapped, scourged, and nailed Him to the
cross. Rather, when He was raised up on the cross. He prayed to His heavenly
Father to forgive them, for they did not know what they were doing, thus
leaving us an example of how we should deal with our enemies and pray for
those who persecute us.

Before He died on the cross, abandoned by almost all His friends, the
Lord Jesus gave voice to the anguish of good and just men when they are
troubled by the thought that evil has overcome them, and cried out in a loud
voice, "0 God, my God, why have you forsaken me!" But, to encourage them
to faith and trust. He added, "Into your hands I commend my spirit." And
then He died.

He died for all of us, for the good and the bad, for the just and the
unjust; for those who persecuted Him and nailed Him to the cross, as well as
for those who did not abandon Him and loved Him to the end; for all people
of every race and nation, of all places and times, past, present, and future, so
as to reconcile all men, from the beginning to the end of time, to the Father;
so as to open the way to repentance, forgiveness and salvation to all
mankind.

It was thus that Jesus' cross became His throne of glory. From a
symbol of a curse and damnation, it became the sign of His victory over sin
and death. He was glorified on the cross and drew all mankind to Himself
and to the Father, thus offering us the proof that through patient endurance
of suffering and death we will surely achieve eternal life and glory.

When the soldiers who had crucified Jesus realized that He was dead,
one of them came forward and thrust a lance into His side and immediately
blood and water flowed out of His heart (John 19:34). This event took place to
fulfill the promise He had made: "Whoever drinks the blood and water I will
give him, will never be thirsty again. No, the water and blood I will give shall
become a fountain within him leaping up to provide eternal life" (John 4:14;
6:54-56).

This He also meant to say of His Church which, born from His
wounded side and coming forth from His heart, was to be the wellspring of
the waters of salvation and the cup of His blood. Whoever is bathed in this
spring and drinks from the cup of His blood has life everlasting. Just as the
Church has life because of the Lord Jesus, so we have life because of the
Church.
CHAPTER 10

The Resurrection of Jesus

Then some of His disciples took Jesus' body down from the cross and
buried it in a tomb in which no one had ever been buried. But after three days
(as He Himself had foretold several times, although His disciples had never
understood what He meant) He rose from the dead by His power as God to
the honor and glory of His heavenly Father.

He thus appeared in His own
flesh and full of life to many of His disciples and to those who loved Him, in
different places and at different times in the course of forty days. With many
convincing words and signs. He showed them that He was truly risen and
was not a ghost, thus proving to them beyond any doubt that He was the
truth, the Way to the Father, and Life everlasting.

He also reminded them of the promise He had made that they, too
would rise again to life everlasting: "I am the resurrection and the life
Whoever believes in Me, though he should die, will come to life; and
whoever is alive and believes in Me will never die" (John 11:25-26).

His disciples came to believe in Him and they put their faith and trust
in Him They came to believe that the Lord Jesus was indeed the Christ, the
bon of God, who had come into this world (John 11:27).

And Jesus said to them, "Rejoice and be glad. I have overcome the
world; I have conquered sin and death."

The Redeemer of the World

In the beginning. God had created the world in His own image and
likeness, in silence, harmony, and love. The Spirit had hovered over all God
had created and had made everything good and holy. The goodness and
holiness of creation was in the image and likeness of the goodness and
holiness of the Creator, of His wisdom and love.

But sin had entered the
world and all creation had been subjected to futility along with the sons of
man. However, in the Lord Jesus the world that God had created in His own
image and likeness recovered its original link with the divine source of
goodness and holiness, of wisdom and love. As the link had been broken in
Adam, so it was restored in Christ (Cf. Rom. 5:12-21).

Therefore, the revelation of the sons of God for which nature is
eagerly awaiting (Rom. 8:19) is already upon us, as it is also the final age of the
world and its restoration in Christ (1 Cor. 10:11). It has begun in the Lord Jesus
and continues in a real way in the ministry of His Church.

For even now the
Church on earth is marked with a genuine goodness and holiness that
overflows on all men and on all creatures of God, great and small. She dwells
among creatures that groan still and are in agony, but not without hope
because the world even now is being freed from its slavery to corruption and
will share in the glorious freedom of the children of God (Vat. II).

She makes
her own the groans and travails of all creatures under heaven lending them a
voice when she says, "Come, Lord Jesus! Come!" (Rev. 22:17).

By His suffering, death, and resurrection, the Lord Jesus has renewed
the face of the earth. His Church throughout the world sings now to Him a
new song, announcing His goodness and wonders to all. Through His Church
the Lord Jesus has brought forth a new birth; through His miracles, a new
power; through His suffering, a new patience; through His death, a new life;
through His resurrection, a new hope; and through His Ascension, new
majesty and glory with God the Father.

And then indeed there shall be new
heavens and a new earth (2 Pet. 3:13).

[Thanks to Father Siro Dal Degan, O.S.J. This article originally appeared in his book "Letters from Theophilus," and is a good explanation of the meaning of life.]

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