Thursday, February 22, 2018

Life to the Full

Discovering God's Design

Verse: John 10:10

Of all the gifts God has given us, life, both physical and spiritual, is the most fundamental and the most precious. In Jesus, God reaffirms the gift of life he bestowed on humanity in the beginning of time and provides the antidote to the culture of sin and death that was introduced by the fall. In the introduction to the encyclical Gospel of Life (Evangelium vitae), Pope John Paul II (1920–2005) proclaims the preciousness of the gift of life.

When he presents the heart of his redemptive mission, Jesus says: “[I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full]” (Jn 10:10). In truth, he is referring to that “new” and “eternal” life which consists in communion with the Father, to which every person is freely called in the Son by the power of the Sanctifying Spirit. It is precisely in this “life” that all the aspects and stages of human life achieve their full significance.

The encyclical also addresses “the incomparable worth of the human person.”
Man is called to a fullness of life which far exceeds the dimensions of his earthly existence, because it consists in sharing the very life of God. The loftiness of this supernatural vocation reveals the greatness and the inestimable value of human life even in its temporal phase. Life in time, in fact, is the fundamental condition, the initial stage and an integral part of the entire unified process of human existence. It is a process which, unexpectedly and undeservedly, is enlightened by the promise and renewed by the gift of divine life, which will reach its full realization in eternity (cf. 1Jn 3:1–2). At the same time, it is precisely this supernatural calling which highlights the relative character of each individual’s earthly life. After all, life on earth is not an “ultimate” but a “penultimate” reality; even so, it remains a sacred reality entrusted to us, to be preserved with a sense of responsibility and brought to perfection in love and in the gift of ourselves to God and to our brothers and sisters.
As stewards of God’s gifts, the pope admonishes every believer to celebrate, value and guard the gift of human life.
Even in the midst of difficulties and uncertainties, every person sincerely open to truth and goodness can, by the light of reason and the hidden action of grace, come to recognize in the natural law written in the heart (cf. Ro 2:14–15) the sacred value of human life from its very beginning until its end, and can affirm the right of every human being to have this primary good respected to the highest degree. Upon the recognition of this right, every human community and the political community itself are founded.

Think About It
*  What is your definition of life?
*  What makes life so valuable?
*  How might you celebrate, value and guard the gift of life?

Pray About It
Lord, thank you for the life that you give “to the full.” Help me to live in celebration of the life you have given to all people, and to be a good steward of this sacred reality--your life in myself and in all the people you have made.

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

The Whole Bible Guides Us Toward Jesus

By Rick Warren

“Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself” (>Luke 24:27 NIV).

Only God could have put the Bible together. It contains 66 books written over 1,600 years by 40 authors -- and it has one theme.

Having a single unified theme is one of the reasons we know that the Bible is God’s Word. From Genesis to Revelation, the Bible is all about God redeeming humanity. Jesus is its star.

The fact that the Bible has only one theme is nothing short of a miracle. It’d be one thing if one person wrote the Bible. The Koran was written by one person, Mohammed. The Analects of Confucius were written by Confucius. The writings of Buddha were written by Buddha. You’d expect them to be uniform.

The Bible, on the other hand, was written by 40 different people, at every age and in every stage of life, on three continents. And they all wrote the same story: Jesus’ story. Prophets and poets, princes and kings, and sailors and soldiers all had the same story. Some were written in homes, others in prisons, and others on ships. You couldn’t have put together a more diverse group of authors.
Yet the story is the same.

Imagine if I gave 50 people each a piece of paper, and I told them to tear their pieces of paper into different shapes -- but I never said how I’m going to use them. What’s the likelihood I’d be able to take those pieces of paper and make a map of the United States out of them? Those odds would be astronomically low. If I did that, most people would think it was a trick.

That’s the miracle of how the Bible was put together.
We tend to think that the New Testament is about Jesus and the Old Testament is about Israel. But that’s not true. The Bible says in Luke 24:27, “Beginning with Moses and all the Prophets, [Jesus] explained to them what was said in all the Scriptures concerning himself”(NIV). The New Testament wasn’t even written then.

The pictures, the metaphors, the analogies, and the illusions -- from beginning to end -- are about God’s plan to redeem people and build a family for eternity. It all began with Jesus. You can see him in every book.

That’s a miracle.

Talk It Over
  • How does your appreciation for the Bible reflect an understanding of the miracle of its cohesiveness?
  • If you had to sum up the Bible in one sentence in your own words, what would you say?
  • What are some ways you can make the Bible more personal to you?