WHAT LAS VEGAS HAS TO SAY ABOUT MY FAITH

If you haven’t done so already, then you know I must have flipped out or had too much to drink (I only drink holy water which makes the plastic flowers grow). I only say that because where my Lectio Divina (Phil 2:5) led me was to think about the odds of having in me the mind of Christ Jesus and if is true or not. I guess I must have watched the morning sports commentary, First Things First, with Cris Carter, Nick Wright, and Jenna Wolfe. They are my favorites to catch up on the probabilities of who will win NBA and NFL. Knowledgeable, quite interesting and with a depth of information that I find quite compelling, these three are engaging.

In keeping with trying to seek God in daily living, I asked myself, “What if all this religion stuff is just not true?” I wondered what odds the bookies in Vegas would give to me to get to Heaven, given that I have a specific of assumptions that I almost can’t prove to be true (The Mystery of Faith). I don’t need to prove anything to anyone, actually.

  • Then, just last week, I was at Panera’s for a cup of coffee (Starbucks coffee is too strong for me and is off-putting), when I bumped into a friend who told me I was in La-La Land for believing all this stuff about God and Christ and the Church and Cistercians. So, being inquisitive with the little neurons that are still left synapting, I delved further into the murky darkness by asking, “Wonder if there is no spiritual universe, only just the physical one and mental one?”
  • Wonder if there is no Church, no Sacraments, No Eucharist, No Resurrection and everything I have done up to this point was, as St. Paul says, an illusion on my part, wanting to believe so much that I have to make up what is not there and see what is not there (rather paranoid, don’t you think?).

Lest you think that my argument is that the world is flat and I have just jumped off the edge, I reiterate that my Faith, with God’s help, is as strong as it has ever been (O Lord, I believe, help my unbelief.) I came up with the analogy of Las Vegas making the odds on the words of Christ being true or not, just as they do to handicap LeBron James and Anthony Davis on winning the NBA championship.

THE ODDS OF GOING TO HEAVEN

If I just lived in the World (it is my house of operations, not my home), I would probably not bet on there being anything after death. Come to think of it, I would not make a wager on any religion or belief system being one that I want to practice. Why waste your time? The gulf between unbelief and belief is so great as to be impossible for a mere human to jump over it. That is why we have Faith, the bridge builder, and God, of course, and unless God builds the house or bridge, we build in vain. My assent of Faith to the grace (energy) of God in me doesn’t make sense to the World but makes perfect sense in the light of the Spirit. Faith is the grace (energy) from God that allows each of us to become adopted sons or daughters of the Father. Either you see that or you don’t. Either you accept that premise or you don’t. God even gave humans reason for a reason and the ultimate test of freedom, to choose what is good for us or what is bad for us. When I say if I live in the World alone (physical and mental universes I would probably not even think that there is a missing piece of the pie, Faith from a Supreme Being to help me solve the equation of life. The assumptions I make when I factor in my platform for sustaining life (the physical universe) coupled with my platform to realize that I know that I know (the mental universe) which takes me only so far, only bring me to the edge of the cliff. My senses, my reason, my experiences based on mere human expressions of what is meaningful, say there is only the abyss our there, the great nothing. When I add the assumption (which is a gift from God) that, no, there is another dimension to reality that makes sense out of what the physical world can tell us about itself and what the mind can discover based only on it own limited experiences, then I make the jump off the cliff and find out that, instead of nothing there, there is EVERYTHING. It is called the Mystery of Faith because, even with human reasoning and Faith from God, we can only know so much, love so much, and serve others so much. We still strive to do it with all our strength. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:34) Both Jewish and authentic Christian belief systems have this as the center core of what they are about.

I have to go against the odds of Las Vegas, but, with God as my friend, I make a bet as a sure thing that the words he spoke to us, about the meaning of being human and our destiny, is true.

  • So, I live the life that says I must deny myself, take up my cross daily and follow what Christ did.
  • So, I follow the teachings of St. Benedict who follows the teachings of the Church Fathers and Mothers, who follow the teachings of the Apostles, who follows the teachings of Christ Jesus, who follows the will of his Father.
  • So, I live in three universes (physical, mental plus spiritual) in order to see how to love others as Christ has loved me.
  • So, I practice each day how to love and learn to become less of me and more like Christ, using Cistercian practices and charisms.
  • So, I read Chapter 4 of the Rule of St. Benedict each day in the hopes of being what I read.
  • So, life becomes one with the ultimate purpose of loving others here on earth and longing to be with the person I love (God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit) in Heaven.
  • So, I realize that, whatever my road in life is, just because it is rocky, doesn’t mean I am on the wrong road. I have had cardiac arrest in my lifetime (2007) and Leukemia (CLL type) (2014). As the 23rd Psalm says: Though I pass through a gloomy valley; I fear no harm; beside me your rod and your staff are there, to hearten me. (New Jerusalem Bible)
  • So, I try to treat those with whom I meet on my journey as I would Christ.
  • So, I try to take some time for me in silence, solitude, in work, with prayer, in the presence of other humans, to give glory to the Father, and the Son and the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. The God who is, who was, and who is to come at the end of the ages.

THE NO LOSE SCENARIO

The Las Vegas oddsmakers would flip over this statement:

If I hold fast to my Faith in Christ Jesus and believe in Him and the power of the Resurrection, I can live out my life in whatever time I have, knowing that my purpose has meaning. I can’t be wrong, even if there is no God, as others say. Even if there is no Christ, as some hold. Even though all this Scripture stuff is false. It doesn’t matter. Following the admonition of Christ to love one another as He loves us fulfills my destiny as a human if death is the only end. If death is the beginning (which I hold), then what is human will be transformed into some wonderful, something St. Paul said is beyond the capability or the capacity of human reasoning, something that God has prepared for those who love him. In the end, it is that HOPE (this HOPE is a person, this HOPE is the Holy Spirit) that will set me free to be what Adam and Eve would have been without Original Sin. What Good News is that!

What are the odds of getting to Heaven? With Faith that the words of Christ are true, it is a shire thing. Without faith in the Resurrection and lack of Hope, don’t waste your money.

Colossians 3

Mystical Death and Resurrection.*1 If then you were raised with Christ, seek what is above, where Christ is seated at the right hand of God 2Think of what is above, not of what is on earth. 3For you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. 4When Christ your life appears, then you too will appear with him in glory.

Renunciation of Vice.*5 Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly:c immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry.*6Because of these the wrath of God* is coming [upon the disobedient].d7By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way.8But now you must put them all away:* anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths.e9Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices f10* and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator.g11Here there is not Greek and Jew, circumcision and uncircumcision, barbarian, Scythian,* slave, free; but Christ is all and in all.h

12 Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience,i13 bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do.j14 And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection.k15 And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.l16 Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God.m17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.n

  • It doesn’t matter if some don’t believe that Jesus is Lord.
  • It doesn’t matter if there is no God or not.
  • It doesn’t matter if all you see at the end of your life is the picture tube of a television set growing ever blacker and blacker.
  • It doesn’t matter if there are doubters in your own family who think that you live in La-La Land.
  • It doesn’t matter that the oddsmakers in Las Vegas won’t put a line on getting to Heaven.
  • It does matter that you live whatever time you have left using the following admonition from St. Paul: 17 And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.n

This is the no-lose scenario, the sure thing. I don’t want to be one to bet against Jesus. Do you?

Praise be to the Father and to the Son and to the Holy Spirit, both now and forever. The God who is, who was, who is to come at the end of the ages. Amen and Amen. –Cistercian doxology

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