THE FIVE GIFTS CHRIST GAVE ME ON MY BIRTHDAY.
This morning, about 2:46 a.m., I began my meditation on my one and only Lectio Divina (Philippians 2:5). I thought about what might be awaiting me as an adopted son or daughter of the Father. Lest I become too seduced with pride (like Adam and Eve), I also thought of the Prodigal Son and how, even though I have Faith from God, I can lose it because I also live in a condition called Original Sin. Every day, I must deny myself, take up my cross, and follow Christ. That means seeking God every day where I am and as I am. St. Benedict put it so succinctly: prefer nothing to the love of Christ. This is a mindset that demands daily stamina and prayer.
In this meditation, I thought of how gracious God the Father, the Son and the Holy Spirit is to allow unworthy me to be an adopted son of the Father. I thought of how God does not leave us orphans at the mercy of ravenous wolves of evil. I thought of five gifts that I received from God upon my adoption so that I could inherit the Kingdom of Heaven. Here are the five.
I was born on September 24, 1940, in Vincennes, Indiana. I also have another birthday, one which allows me to inherit the Kingdom of Heaven if I am worthy. That day is September 29, 1940, at 1:00 p.m. at the Old Cathedral Church, Vincennes, Indiana. The first birthday allowed me to enter the human race, the second birthday allowed me to enter the Kingdom of Heaven. Of course, like my human nature, I needed to grow a little until I could claim that inheritance. Faith at baptism is like a gift from God, similar to the Christmas gifts we receive. They lay under the tree until the appropriate time, then we open them. This opening of my spiritual presents is similar to getting a Christmas gift, opening it, then finding out it requires assembly, such as a bicycle. In my case, I accepted the Christmas gift from Christ at Baptism but it has taken me a lifetime to assemble. I realize now that I won’t get to use my bicycle until I get to Heaven. I thought about five gifts which Christ gave me at Baptism, gifts that only now I am beginning to use as intended (guess I don’t read the instructions but think I can assemble the bike by myself–how foolish of me).
- GIFT ONE: A pair of special eyeglasses to see into Forever
- GIFT TWO: A map of how to get to heaven without stepping in the minefields.
- GIFT THREE: A living will that really lives.
- GIFT FOUR: A golden thread that leads to Christ.
- GIFT FIVE: A single key that unlocks time itself.
I must not fly a flag under false colors. I don’t know where these gifts came from, certainly not from me. They just poured out. I don’t worry about any of this just try to use this to seek God where I am right now and as I am. Many of these gifts are new to my thinking and I am just learning how to use them.
- GIFT ONE: A pair of special eyeglasses. (I was going to call them Son glasses.) — You have probably heard of the quotation from Scripture about “seeing, but you do not see and hearing, but you do not hear.” Why is it that some people can see what Christ came to teach us, but others do not get it? One way to look at why this so has to do with using the glasses that Christ gave you at Baptism. Remember, these gifts come from God, not humans, and are aids to help us survive that long walk through the minefields of life without blowing us up. You have probably read about St. Paul’s concepts of the World and the Spirit and how those gifted with Baptism become pilgrims in a foreign land, not so? This foreign land is the World, and we need to have a different view of reality because of our gift of the Holy Spirit. When I wear these glasses, particularly in my Lectio Divina meditations, I use my three universe concept to see correctly. The first two universes (physical and mental) are the World. You can have a perfectly good life using these two universes alone. That is called the secular World, and it does not admit of God but has you at its center. Then there is the universe we enter when we are baptized with water and the Spirit. This is the Kingdom of Heaven (on earth as it is in Heaven). This is God’s playground, and we have been invited to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father. All it takes is Faith, all it requires is the belief in that Faith. The eyeglasses permit us to realize that, in this Kingdom of Heaven, everything has a different meaning, God’s purpose. God gave up being comfortable in taking on the nature of a slave so that we might have adoption and be given help on how to love others as Christ loves us. (Philippians 2:5) The eyeglasses help us to focus on the New Jerusalem, a New Life, that of the Kingdom of Heaven beginning with your Baptism, and when you profess that Jesus Christ is Son of God, Savior. Wearing them (you never take them off), a strange thing happens to how you view life, different from how the world sees it. Everything in the Kingdom of Heaven is upside down. The top is now the bottom, upside down, but rather this is the way of looking at life with God as your center. In this universe, the meek inherit the earth, God becomes man, peace is not as the World says it is, the absence of conflict, but rather the presence of love. These special glasses of Baptism enable us to see what doesn’t make sense to the World but show each age of humans how to act in such a way that we love each other as Christ loves us. Some people will receive these glasses and will know how to use them to see the Kingdom of Heaven and begin to seek God in daily life. Some people will be handed the glasses and try them on but be confused because everything looks upside down. Some people will not put them on because they think they don’t need glasses to see what the World says is meaningful. His glasses will seem foolish to some and a stumbling block to others. The person who is faithful and who, in humility and truth, seeks to do God’s will daily will enjoy the inheritance of being adopted sons and daughters of the Father.
- GIFT TWO: A map of how to get to Heaven. Everybody needs a map of how to get to Heaven. The reason Christ became human was to show us how to get there. Everything we need to be adopted sons and daughters of the Father is contained in this map. Jesus never wrote anything down. He did many signs and wonders so that the disciples who do not see them will believe. His disciples wrote them down as a map to guide us in loving God with our whole, mind, our whole hearts, and all our strength, and to love our neighbor as our self. (Deuteronomy 6:5 and Matthew 22:34) This map (Sacred Scriptures) shows us how to live in the Kingdom of Heaven and use those eyeglasses properly. St. John in Chapter 20:30-31 tells us why we even have Scripture. ” John 20:30-31 New (NRSVCE) “The Purpose of This Book30 Now Jesus did many other signs in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book. 31 But these are written so that you may come to believe[a] that Jesus is the Messiah,[b] the Son of God, and that through believing you may have life in his name.” Critics of Christ point to the writing of Scriptures as just delusional followers. The Resurrection was not real for these people who were angry at Christ and his claim to be one with the Father; the Resurrection was just made up to soothe the egos of the Apostles and disciples who were disappointed in a failed Messiah.
- GIFT THREE: A living will that really lives. What could be more a sign of the immense love God has for us than giving us a will. In the World, we use a will to parcel out treasures stored up during our lifetime but give to others because we can’t take them with us. In the Spiritual Universe, the Kingdom of Heaven, we are gifted by God at Baptism with adoption papers making us sons and daughters of the Father and heirs to Heaven’s Kingdom. God gives us this will in the form of an indelible mark or tattoo on our spirit, one that indicates we are destined to live forever. It is the gift of Faith that says we not only have adoption but the energy during our lifetime to keep us from sliding down the slippery slope of pride and self-importance and lose it. This living will is each of us who acknowledges Christ as our Master, our Brother, our Mediator, our Translator, our Messiah.
- GIFT FOUR: A golden thread. What could be more innocuous than a tiny, golden thread?. This is no ordinary gift because it comes from God, so it has the Holy Spirit’s energy for those who know how to use it. You won’t find this in Scripture nor any writings of the Church. I discovered it in Ariadne’s myth, the daughter of Minos and Pasiphae, who gave Theseus a thread which he uses to make his way out of the Minotaur’s labyrinth. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ariadne, The Holy Spirit, gave this gift to me at my Baptism. Christ has one end of the thread tied to his wrist and ties the other to my wrist at Baptism. This tread has the ability to link all things together in my brief time on earth. With this thread, I can sew it through the sunset with its splendors and rich colors; I can link all of my relatives together and those wonderful Christmas celebrations over the years; I can sew each and every day with this thread, and all the times I tried to seek God by using Cistercian practices and charisms; I can put a threat through every person I ever met and the situations in which I met them; I can link my thread through all of my pets and those other situations I want to take with me to heaven. Heaven will be what I sew in my lifetime. In heaven, Christ has the other end of the golden thread on his wrist and waits for me to bring my end to him. Each of us Baptized with water, and the holy spirit has this thread to help us through the labyrinth of the minefields set by Satan. With Christ’s gifts, I must still talk about the path of righteousness, but I know the way, the truth and can now live the life prepared for me since the beginning of time.
- GIFT FIVE: A single key that unlocks time itself. This key is to the gates of the Kingdom of Heaven. Christ is that key, a stumbling block to the Jews and considered folly to the Gentiles. All of these gifts, the eyeglasses, the map, the golden thread, the living will, all lead to heaven, our purpose in life, and the reason we are at all. What is incredible is that God, in His wisdom, devised a way for individuals to have a key to the kingdom. They use these gifts, not as a solo act, but with the accumulated wisdom from those who have gone before us, the pioneers who have forged the way across the desert of original sin and point out the water holes. This is the Church who shows us in each age what went before us that is authentic from what is a key that looks good but will not work in the lock of heaven. The Church has the master key, and my key must match the authentic one given to the Church Universal by Christ. There are other keys out there that will not open the lock. Those people will have to knock on the door, and Christ will answer and judge each person according to their hearts. (Matthew 25) In humility and with obedience to what God wills for me, I have my own key from Baptism and continue to keep it as I confess the Jesus is Lord each day to the glory of the Father. That is good news, indeed.