Monday, October 18, 2010

Dr. G and Catechetical Lessons Learned

Lately I'm enjoying Discovery Health Channel's show Dr. G, Medical Examiner. "Dr. G" is Jan C. Garavalia, M.D., chief examiner for the District Nine Medical Examiner's Office in Florida This covers Orange and Osceola Counties. I'm not a fan of the slasher movie genre, so that's not what attracts me to the show. What holds my attention is the numerous ways bodies die. While it is appointed to each of us to die (though not all may see death this side of heaven depending on Christ's return), we each die in a different way. No two bodies break down towards death the same way. The show is an exposition of original sin and its effects on humanity.

It's also an exposition of the enmity between us and God. Enmity doesn't merely mean conflict or hostility. It also means hatred. That is the word God used in Ge 3:15 when He was speaking to the serpent, "I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel." It's the same word Paul later used in Ro 8:7, "For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God's law; indeed, it cannot." We could say that such a mind hates God. The First Commandment requires that we"fear, love, and trust in God above all things." This we have not kept. The opposite of love is. . . hate. The Third Petition even speaks to this when it allows that our sinful nature, which includes even our body, does not want to hallow God's name. This is a hard and bitter pill to swallow, but one that is the beginning of repentance.

Autopsies demonstrate just how deeply we cannot love God. Our own bodies are incapable of sustaining that which He found most precious to give us, life itself, which means of course, eternal life. The entrance to the Garden of Eden was barred from sin-filled Man so that he would not eat of the Tree of Life and remain eternally in his sin-filled state. This happened after God had given the promise of His Seed, the one who would bring eternal life to Man. So instead o Man being condemned to living in sin eternally, the Son of God was raised upon a tree as a sinner, and the fruit of that tree is given to us poor beggars to eat as His Body and Blood in bread and wine. It is from that Tree of Life that we receive forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and salvation.

According to the Revelation of John, the Tree of Life appears in again in paradise, where God gives access to its fruit to those who conquer in the restored Garden of Eden (Rv 2:7). The promise of eternal life is given to those whose sins have put in Christ ( Ro 6:3-4; 1Jn 1:8-9). Our life in Baptism "which indicates that the Old Adam should by daily contrition and repentance be drowned and die with all evil desires, and that a new man might arise should daily arise to live before God in righteousness and putity forever," rushes us forward to that life in the Eden restored. Baptism places us in that now not yet. We are now in this sin-filled life; we are not yet in Eden restored. Yet it is ours nonetheless. "Beloved, we are God's children now, and what we will be has not yet appeared; but we know that when he appears we will be like him, because we shall see him as he is" (1Jn 3:2).

Christ's own resurrection sustains us with that same blessed paradox. He is now as we will one day become (1 Cor 15). The resurrection teaches us that our bodies weren't meant to stay locked in tombs. God didn't create us that way. It isn't normal. Death is the consequence of hatred toward God (Ro 6:23). But Christ's resurrection not only explodes death, it shatters that hatred. Jesus' own flesh was not a new creation for Him to inhabit only for the sake of His work of saving Mankind. His flesh was that of a woman's, and that under the law (Ga 4:4). It could experience death, and did. His flesh is our flesh. His death is our death. His resurrection is our resurrection. He was made sin in order that righteousness might reign in us (2Cor 5:21). His righteousness in exchange for our sin will result in our resurrection of the dead. It can be no other way.

No matter how many different ways human bodies find to die, no matter how many times Dr. G is surprised by what she discovers in her autopsies, no matter how many time sin exacts its wages on us pitiful humans held captive to this body of death, ultimately for those in Christ death is not the end of the story. We are baptized. We eat Bread of Life come down from heaven, and in Him alone is Life (Jo 6:33; 1Jn 5:11).

How is God's will done?
God's will is done when He breaks and hinders every evil plan and purpose of the devil, the world, and our sinful nature, which do not want us to hallow God's name or let His kingdom come;
and when He strengthens and keeps us firm in His Word and faith until we die.
This is His good and gracious will

How can water do such great things? 
Certainly not just water, but the word of God in and with the water does these things, along with the faith which trusts this word of God in the water. For without God's word the water is plain water and no Baptism. But with the the word of God it is a Baptism, that is, a life-giving water, rich in grace, and a washing of the new birth in the Holy Spirit, as St. Paul says in Titus chapter three:

"He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us generously through Jesus Christ our Savior, so that, having been justified by His grace, we might become heirs having the hope of eternal life. This is a trustworthy saying." (Titus 3:5-8)

What is the benefit of this eating and drinking?

These words, "Given and shed for you for the forgiveness of sins," show us that in the Sacrament forgiveness of sins life, and salvation are given us through these words. For where there is forgiveness of sins, there is also life and salvation.

No comments: