Friday, May 29, 2015

Salvation - HOLY SPIRIT

“Truth is so obscure in these times, and falsehood so established, that unless we love the truth, we cannot know it.”
--Pascal, Pensées, #863.

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The reason the world was created was not just to have a world. It was created for man. It was created to invite men to participate in the inner life of God, eternal life. This purpose had a twofold meaning. One was what man would do with or in the world once he appeared there. This is the actual turbulent history of man on this planet. The second was that each member of the human race was invited, from the beginning, to participate in the inner Trinitarian life of God. This invitation was something that was not possible unless a “new life” was infused into each person. Man was invited to be more than his nature was open to. This divine initiative was the purpose of the Redemption from the old sins.

God did not “need” the world. He did not need to create as if He needed something. This is why, from the human point of view, the Holy Spirit is described as a “gift." Not only is the world itself and all in it, including ourselves, a “gift” to us, so also is the effort of God to restore that disorder in the world that was put in it by human sin. In order to participate in this “gift” of “eternal life” offered to each of us, something had to be done about sin. And it had to be done in such a manner that the orders of creation be not overturned. Men remained what they are. What does that mean? It means, in dealing with the human rejection of his order in nature and grace, that God could not take away man’s nature or freedom. He had to operate, as it were, with what He had created.

This restriction is what evidently surrounded the initiative of God to give man another way to reach Him after the failure in Adam and Eve of His first effort. Adam and Eve had used their freedom to reject the initial offer of eternal life. They wanted to create their own way. All subsequent sin, in effect, imitates this claim. In doing so, the first couple suffered the consequences of their own choice. They were subject to death, as they were told. Their acts had consequences. If God the Son became man in the world, He could offer men another way. As it turns out, that the people to whom He was sent also rejected Him. As a result, He died on the Cross. It was this second effort of God to give us the gift of eternal life that we are left with in the Church until the end.

The Trinity indicates that God is, as it were, social in Himself in such a way that He does not need anything. Creation is thus something rising out of love or generosity, not out of justice. But its purpose is serious. The rejection of the divine plan for each of us is a possible choice. This choice is what each human life is ultimately about. It always bears the character of “I will or will not serve." The primary purpose of God is the salvation of each of the persons He created in His image and likeness. It is not some apocalyptic inner-worldly political, economic, or ecological purpose down the ages.sal

The actual world is an arena in which the ultimate destiny of each person is worked out according to his own choices. Those who live in brutal societies are not further away from God’s purpose for them than those who live in prosperous ones when it comes to availability of eternal life. We are not supposed to create brutal societies, of course, even when we do. But people lose their souls both in good and bad societies. No one avoids the basic issue of how does he stand to sin and the redemption that God has offered.

The Trinity, then, is the way God has taught us to understand, as best we can, what He is like in his inner life to which we are invited. Like all invitations, we can refuse the invitation, the gift. But this inner-life of the Godhead, Father, Son, and Spirit, is the only explanation for that unsettled sense in each of us that we are made for a purpose, a happiness. We cannot give what we really want to ourselves. But we can receive if we will, as it has been offered to each of us. The precariousness of our world has its roots not in the fragility of our physical existence but in the temptation we all have to be ourselves the cause of our being, of our choosing on our own to “be like gods” as if God did not offer some understanding of Himself far superior to anything we could imagine for ourselves.

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