‘We shall be saved through his life’30 June 2023
‘For if, while we were God’s enemies, we were reconciled to him through the death of his Son, how much more, having been reconciled, shall we be saved through his life’ (Rom. 5, 10)
In our spiritual tradition, the attitude of people towards God is often portrayed as being hostile. God and human beings seem to be two different worlds, between which there’s no love or co-existence, but rather a yawning chasm. It may well be that we are the cause of this divide, because we provoked God by seeking to replace him in history, in other words by deifying ourselves, creating a new social contract revolving not around God, love and eternity, but around the self, power and the present time. Nevertheless, until the coming of Christ, there were many points at which God had the role of judge and castigator. Noah’s flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the enslavement in Egypt, Pharaoh’s ten plagues, the tribulations of the Israelites in the desert, the droughts and epidemics, the wars and defeats against the Philistines, the Assyrians, the Babylonians, the Greeks and the Romans. All these, as well as other instances, show God as allowing people to be tested and defeated, in order to make them realize their real abilities, which have to do with prioritizing love and our relationship with God. It’s not God who feels hostile, however, but us people. God instructs, he doesn’t hate. He doesn’t accept the actions, but he doesn’t reject the person. Everyone is on the road of freedom. We people ourselves create enemies among our fellow human beings and call the results punishments from God- as some of them may be. What’s missing is faith.
In fact, the hostility’s a sign of our childishness, or sometimes our adolescence. We’re like those adolescents who always want what they want, and sometimes manipulate their parents into giving them whatever they desire. And if they’re denied, they break out into anger, rage, or are consumed with resentment and bitterness. The hostility’s a sign of immaturity, because we feel that the other person’s our opponent, because they aren’t the way we want them to be. At the same time, hostility’s a sign that there’s wickedness in the world. It may not exist in itself and may be the state needed to explain the absence of good. It may be the result of our choices. It may be a sign of the devil as the prince of this age, of the spiritual being who aims at demolishing God in our hearts, first by sowing doubts as regards his love and then by requiring us to make gods of ourselves. But evil begets and perpetuates hostility, because its action produces a reaction. Because the temptation of lording it over other people employs every means available- discourse, arms, other people and appetites- in order to become the dominant force. The ego on its throne.
But in our Christian tradition, this modus vivendi has been defeated once and for all through the incarnation of the Son and Word of God, through his crucifixion, death and resurrection. God and humankind have started out on a new world, a New Testament. God isn’t the enemy and neither are other people. Each of us becomes the enemy of real life, which is concerned with love, reconciliation, coexistence, resurrection and eternity. It has to do with Christ’s presence in our life and his absence. And yet. Within the Church and within our life, even this hostility is defeated. Because the great thing is our salvation. It’s not a vision that we’ll be able to shape the world as we wish it to be; it’s our relationship with Christ, which doesn’t divide, doesn’t separate, doesn’t leave anyone outside communion, but keeps the door open, even for those who continue to see and confront God as their enemy.
Because we were and remain sinners, we continue, with puerile immaturity, to see everything in the world as being subject to our ego and demand that it be so, and that our wants should be satisfied either instantly or in the long term. But on the cross, Christ saved us, saves us and welcomes us. All that’s required is that we should see the world and life through his eyes. Through the opening of his arms to everyone. Through the forgiveness he granted. Through his sacrifice for others. Through the rejection of all fanaticism. Because, like the Jews, we continue to consider ourselves to be the chosen people who are always right. Like the Pharisees, we observe commandments and are justifiably omnipotent in this age. We thus have no hesitation in dividing and separating, rejecting and denying, not behaviors but people, not ideas but persons. And we end up begging God to punish our enemies, whom we’ve constructed in order to make ourselves feel good.
Our salvation has to do with our integrity. As complete, psychosomatic beings, we’re called upon to love, to forgive, to unite and to see the prospect of the resurrection in life. In particular to believe, to trust, to surrender to God’s will, doing whatever we can to keep the two great commandments: love for God and for other people. And to share our joys and sorrows with others, in the Church. All the rest is known to the Lord.