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Religion column: The words of life

By Fr. Jonathan Filkins

In any analysis of our life and lifestyles, few of us would doubt the necessity of words of encouragement for ourselves from time to time. In this era of great negativity, it is important we understand how precious we truly are and no, sorry, this does not give us license to misbehave.

In the Creation story, Adam is created from dust into the likeness of God and from him, came Eve. Each was perfect in their own way. Yet, God gave them the ability to exercise free choice in their behaviors; as they were told to not eat the fruit from the Tree of Knowledge. Despite the temptations from the serpent, they could have resisted. However, through their actions, and words, they chose to depart from their Eden and seeded the world we live in today.

We too have our own perfections. We too have our ability to choose from what God wants and what the world wants. The “serpents” of today are no different than any times over the millennia. It may seem so, given the information overload showered upon us by many sources. Given enough torment and effort, we may start listening to the vapid voices of the extreme.

We have been instructed by God, through Jesus Christ, to walk the “Via Media.” Sorry, we are not talking about those most glib, and profane, daily products we are assaulted with from many points of the compass.

Here is our direction for life. It is the narrow path in the middle of the very bumpy road of life itself. Many of us will acknowledge our propensity to wander off in this direction or that; occasionally not even realizing we have done so. 

Perhaps this is the reason so many preachers, ministers and priests stand in the pulpit and wag their fingers; regularly pointing out, in loud volume, the errors of sin and the need for immediate repentance of our sins. 

Oh yes, we do need to repent; as Adam and Eve, we too have fallen into sin. Yet, in the acknowledgment of sin, is there also the acknowledgment of divine goodness, if not greatness?

A loving mother is cured of a fatal disease; a neighbor mows her lawn. A single dad brings his children to church; a teacher pays for school supplies out of her own pocket. These, and so many other examples tell us, perhaps not as loudly as the naysayers, that much of the world is alright. Only if we believe the “serpents,” are we drawn toward the darkness of the Evil One.

When we, as Christians, accept Jesus Christ as the Messiah and our Savior, we embrace what he said and what he taught. On occasion we seem a bit indifferent, and this is our life-long challenge. As Adam and Eve soon discovered, even after their fall from grace, God was still with them. Even after our sinful nature, God is still with us, now through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ.

We may become preoccupied, or even overwhelmed, with the onslaught of earthly events. To borrow from the Persians, “This too shall pass,” and so it will. Human history has repetitively shown the foibles of our natures and inability to more readily seek a higher purpose.

The choice becomes one of becoming mired in humankind’s debacles, or in God’s perfections.

The words, “Jesus Christ,” are the words necessary for the beginning of our early journey with God. They invoke a personal inner awakening to discover who and what he is; and our relationship with him. As Jesus said, “You are no longer strangers…come unto me.”