Abundant Life

Dear Folks,

God made the world so that life could flourish, and he called us to steward the earth (Genesis 1:28; 2:15). Imagine, if human beings had done what we were supposed to do from the beginning, how much better the world would be. How many diseases would have

been cured, how we could have stopped the harmful effects of many natural forces. Perhaps we could have tamed mosquitoes, so they weren’t a problem. We might even have lettuce that tastes like bacon. Imagine the cumulative effects of all the good that people could have done but didn’t do, add the cumulative effects of all the active evil that people have done since the beginning of the human race, and that gives us the difference between the world God has wanted and the one we have. Instead of a lush world that we should have had, there is so much barrenness and death.

But God does not leave us there. A theme throughout the Bible is “where there was only death, there is now life.”

The stories about manna in the desert (Exodus 16), and water from the rock (Exodus 17) show us a desert that cannot sustain life, but God sustains them. This has an echo in the multiplication of the loaves and fishes (See Matthew 14).

Ezekiel preaching to the dry bones (Ezekiel 37) is a metaphor for a people in exile, whose country is, for all intents and purposes, dead, and God promises to bring them back to life, as He brings the dry bones to life.

The river from the temple that turns salt water fresh (Ezekiel 47). In a desert country where drinking water is always in short supply, salt water would be especially frustrating. When a river of fresh water flows into the ocean, it becomes undrinkable salt water. A river that

turns salt water fresh is a wonderfully life-giving river. This has its fulfillment in Revelation 22:1-2.

Sin makes our lives and our world barren and less life-giving, but the power of the Paschal Mystery brings new life. As a sign of this, Jesus cures the blind, the deaf and the lame, bringing dead eyes, dead ears, and dead limbs to life, He is showing the power that will

bring us, dead in our sins, to new life, a life of flourishing that the world cannot give.

As we proclaim the Gospel, a key part of our proclamation is helping people to flourish. This includes education (the mighty Catholic schools, as well as other educational programs for all ages), Feeding the hungry, visiting the shut-in, caring for the sick, and many other things that Christians do that can help the desert in people’s lives to bloom. These are valuable in and of themselves, of course, but they are signs that can help people when they ask if Jesus is the one they seek, or should they look for another (see

Matthew 11:1-6).

Blessings,

Fr. Jim

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