If anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death

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Today’s Gospel was very inspiring to me. Not only did it remind me of just how easy it is to love the Lord, but, It was as plain as the nose on my face. Even as a Catholic, I would be lying if I honestly say I don’t fear dying. While it is true, I can’t wait to be with the Lord, I still think everyone is afraid, even just a little.

John 8: 51-59

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Truly, I say to you, if anyone keeps my word, he will never experience death.” The Jews replied, “Now we know that you have a demon. Abraham died and the prophets as well, but you say: ‘Whoever keeps my word will never experience death.’ Who do you claim to be? Do you claim to be greater than our father Abraham, who died? And the prophets also died.” Then Jesus said, “If I were to praise myself, it would count for nothing. But he who gives glory to me is the Father, the very one you claim as your God, although you don’t know him. I know him and if I were to say that I don’t know him, I would be a liar like you. But I know him and I keep his word. As for Abraham, your ancestor, he looked forward to the day when I would come; and he rejoiced when he saw it.” The Jews then said to him, “You are not yet fifty years old and you have seen Abraham?” And Jesus said “Truly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I am.” They then picked up stones to throw at him, but Jesus hid himself and left the Temple.

Consider This….

Death may be inevitable to all but in the Gospel today Jesus says that for those who keep his word they will not experience death. How is this possible when in truth no one escapes death? The Jews could not understand him. What death is Jesus talking about? Is it possible to live forever? Actually, Jesus was not talking about physical death. He meant that a life lived in him will bring one to eternal life. Jesus’ word is life giving. This means that if we keep his word and live it, we bring out the “shine of Jesus” in us. Therefore, we are alive when others see more of “Jesus” and less of us. As we experience more of the life that Jesus has shown us, we will come closer to the life everlasting that all of us are hoping for. Sin, on the other hand, means death (cf. Romans 8:5-6)  because it opposes Jesus, the Light. It operates in the darkness of evil and does not give light.

Let us allow the Light of Jesus to give us life. Live Jesus because he is the Resurrection and the Life! Something to ponder about today: we are made to live a life in preparation for what is eternal and reserved for all those who love God and do His will.

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No complaints, please!

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ImageDo you ever find yourself complaining about abundance? Too much food, too many t-shirts, too many gadgets, too many events on the calendar! The grumbling of the ungrateful has a long biblical tradition. In the desert years, the Israelites complained about the “wretched food” they were forced to eat daily. It’s shocking to realize they were complaining about manna, once celebrated as “bread from heaven” and now consumed with contempt! If you’re tempted in the upcoming weeks to grumble about “so many extra liturgies in church,” take a minute to recall what these services are commemorating, and give thanks.

Do Not Be Afraid

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Today the Liturgy talks about raising the dead. This gets me to thinking, am I really ready to accept God to the point I’m not afraid of my own death. I think it takes a truly strong person to admit with any sincerity that he/she is ready to accept death for the Lord. There is still the fear of the unknown.

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The fear of death is like a cloud, a terrible shadow that falls over human life and experience. All of our proximate fears are reflections of, and participation in, this primordial fear. It cramps us, turns us in on ourselves, makes us defensive, hateful, violent, and vengeful.

Further, most of the structures of oppression in the world are predicated upon the fear of death. Because a tyrant can threaten his people with death, he can dominate them; because a dictator can threaten people with killing, he can perpetrate all sorts of injustice. Whenever the strong (in any sense) overwhelm the weak, we are looking at the ways of death.

But what would life be like if we were no longer afraid? What if death had finally lost its sting?

Then we would live as the saints do–not immune to suffering, but, if I can put it this way, unaffected by it. We would know that we are loved by a power that transcends death, and this would fill us with an exuberance beyond measure.

Jesus came to inaugurate this fearless and death-defying love. Therefore in the great words of John Paul II, which were really the words of Christ, “Do not be afraid.”

Sin

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WHERE DOES SINFUL HUMANITY GO WHEN THEY DIE?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

HOW DO WE ESCAPE?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask

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To My Readers:

I have neglected my blog for some time now and this is not fair to those who follow me. I aim to be more diligent in my blogging, and as always I am open to your suggestions and feedback. Since my last post in December, I have opened a new website, thecatholicword.com as well as wilm4life.org .

I now manage both of these sites, please check them out and again your feed back is very important. I appreciate your patience in my lack of writing. Thank You and God Bless.

Paul

God’s Gift Of Salvation

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How Do I Please God?                                                                                Image

Many people believe that when they die God will accept them into His presence because they have lived good lives. They might point to the fact that they have given money to charity, that they have attended church, or that they have not done anything “really bad.”

What Is Humanity’s True Condition?

Nevertheless, in the Bible, God says that no one can live up to His righteous standard. “There is none righteous, not even one; There is none who understands, There is none who seeks for God; All have turned aside, together they have become useless; There is none who does good, There is not even one.” (Romans 3:10-12).

Earlier in the book of Romans, the author Paul goes further to describe humanity’s miserable condition and the reality of God’s wrath against us for our evil: “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness” (Romans 1:18).

In short, humanity is completely unrighteous in God’s sight, and God is going to judge humanity for its sin and evil.

Where Does Sinful Humanity Go When They Die?

If we remain in our sins, we will die, not only physically but eternally as well. The Bible tells us why: “For the wages of sin is death” (Romans 6:23a). It also describes the day when God judges sinful humanity; “And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Rev. 20:15).

This miserable destiny is the lot of all humankind if they remain alienated from God. Thankfully, God did not ignore us in our unrighteousness and rebellion but provided a way of escape from His wrath!

How Do We Escape?

Too often, we as sinful humans imagine that we can counteract our unrighteous deeds by doing good deeds. However, in God’s economy, human performance just does not cut it. Our own works will not save us; God’s grace is the only way to salvation. “For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: Not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9).

How do we experience this grace? How can we be reconciled to God and receive this eternal life? This is the most important question each human being must ask.

What Is God’s Way Of Salvation?

Despite our inability to save ourselves, God made a way of salvation for sinful humanity. Describing this plan is the most famous verse in the Bible is John 3:16: “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have eternal life.” God’s solution is His own Son: Jesus Christ.

Just prior to John 3:16, John describes who Jesus Christ is. He identifies Jesus Christ as the “Word” when he says, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. … And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw his glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:1, 14).

Simply put, Jesus Christ is both God and Man. Many other passages confirm this fact: “God was manifest in the flesh” (1 Timothy 3:16); “Christ came, who is over all, God blessed forever” (Romans 9:5); “But of the Son He says, Your throne, O God, is forever and ever” (Hebrews 1:8).

What Did Jesus Christ Come To Accomplish?

Why did Christ take on a human nature? Why did He have to die? Christ took on a human nature to live the perfect human life that we could not live ourselves. “For we have not an high priest who cannot sympathize with our weakness, but One who has been tempted in all things as we are, yet without sin” (Hebrews 4:15).

Most shocking is the question of why Christ had to die on the cross. Because God is infinitely just, He cannot sweep our sin under the carpet. Either He must punish us for our sins, or He must punish a voluntary substitute. The Bible says, “But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8). Christ was the voluntary substitute for sinners, and “He humbled himself, and became obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Philippians 2:8b).

So not only did Christ live a perfect life in our place, he also died the death that we deserved to die, and He absorbed God’s wrath on our behalf. Therefore, the Bible can say, “…we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son…” (Romans 5:10b)

If Christ had remained on the cross or in the grave, it would all be just a sad story—but Christ did not stay dead. As a declaration that God is satisfied with the perfect sacrifice of His Son on our behalf, God raised His Son from the dead, and in His resurrection all who believes in Christ have the hope of a future resurrection to eternal life. “But now Christ has been raised from the dead, the first fruits of those who are asleep. For since by a man came death, by a man came also came the resurrection of the dead” (1 Corinthians 15:20-21).

How Do I Receive This Free Gift?

In light of this amazing sacrifice, we might imagine that the cost of such a salvation on our part would be higher than we could afford. God has already told us that our good works do not save us. Our only hope of salvation and eternal life is, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved; for with the heart a person believes, resulting in righteousness, and with the mouth he confesses, resulting in salvation.” (Romans 10:9-10)

Jesus Heals Many

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Scripture

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38 Then He got up and left the synagogue, and entered Simon’s home. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked Him to help her. 39 And standing over her, He rebuked the fever, and it left her; and she immediately got up and waited on them. 40 While the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various diseases brought them to Him; and laying His hands on each one of them, He was healing them. 41 Demons also were coming out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But rebuking them, He would not allow them to speak, because they knew Him to be the Christ. 42 When day came, Jesus left and went to a secluded place; and the crowds were searching for Him, and came to Him and tried to keep Him from going away from them. 43 But He said to them, “I must preach the kingdom of God to the other cities also, for I was sent for this purpose.” 44 So He kept on preaching in the synagogues of Judea

Luke 4:38-44 New American Standard Bible (NASB)


Exposition

It is Sabbath morning after an eventful service at the synagogue. Peter invites Jesus over for dinner, but cautions him, “Master, it will take a little longer to put the meal on the table. My mother-in-law is sick, and Miriam has to do everything herself. Could you look at Miriam’s mother when you come? (Although this is unconfirmed, some research shows that Miriam is Saint Peter’s wife. Research also shows that Saint Peter’s name could have been Cephus)

Jesus glances over at Peter with just the trace of a smile, and follows him in the bright Saturday sun through the narrow streets to Peter’s house. Inside the room, Jesus takes a moment for his eyes to adjust to the dark. In the corner on a mat is the, old woman, her body one moment wracked with chills, and then burning up with fever. She is moaning softly.

Miriam draws Peter aside. “Peter, mother is worse. I’m afraid for her.”

Nevertheless, Jesus has already moved to where the suffering woman lies and bends over her. Speaking a word of rebuke to the fever, he touches her hand, and then helps her up.

Peter is saying, “Master, mother isn’t at all well….” but Jesus stops him saying, “Peter, she’ll be fine. She’s well now.”

“Miriam,” crackles the old woman, wonderfully spry considering her bout with influenza. “Let me help you….”

Questions


What does Jesus’ ministry of laying on of hands for healing teach us about him?

  • How did Jesus treat the sick people he encountered that afternoon and evening in Capernaum? What kind of example does that set for us to follow?
  • Which was the more important motivator for Jesus: compassion or duty? Did they ever conflict?
  • Why is it so hard to maintain a Quiet Time? What have you found that enables you to set aside this time. Any tips to share with the rest of us.

Lessons for Apostles


What are the take-away lessons for apostles from the healing in Capernaum and Jesus’ call?

  • Jesus took time to individually minister to people, even after “normal” working hours.
  • Jesus took a Quiet Time away from others to hear from his father.
  • Jesus’ sense of mission from talking to his Father allowed him to look past the constant requests for ministry from needy people to see the bigger picture. Without perspective, the good can be the enemy of the best.

Before we conclude, let me ask you a personal question:

  • Do you practice a personal Quiet Time at least five days a week?

You do not have to tell me how difficult it is — I already know. 🙂 However, DO you? If you are serious about growing as an apostle, this step is indispensable for you. In encourage you to persist in carving out even a few minutes on a regular basis. The rewards are much greater than the sacrifice.

Prayer


Lord, what a privilege it is to observe you as you care for people. Yet I see that you care for your Father’s will more than even the people. Help me to keep that essential balance in my own life. Help me to spend time with you so the time I spend with people will be more power-filled. Forgive me where I fall short. I love you. In Jesus’ name, I pray. Amen.

There is a longer version of this, containing narrative for the verses. If you would like to read the entire lesson, please feel free to contact me:

Paul Tanner

Paul@thecatholicword.com

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