Our Ticket to Heaven

Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.
Father Sebastian McDonald, C.P.

We soon celebrate the birth of Jesus Christ in our midst. Is this something to be celebrated, or to be grieved over? For did He not come to die, along with the rest of us? “For the Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve and give his life as a ransom for many.” (Mk. 10.45)

The rest of us count our births as something to celebrate. After all, should we not have been born, we should not have existed—ever. We do not believe, as some do, that we all had another existence, prior to our birth in this world. Except for Jesus Christ. He had a life prior to His birth among us, as the Son of God, the Word of God, the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. He lived, and lives, for all eternity, in the Godhead, with Father and Holy Spirit. Why then did He come to be born and live among us? Was it to suffer and die for our sins? And, if so, is that something to celebrate and rejoice over? Why so—why be glad over another’s suffering?

Possibly because, if we had not sinned, He would not have come among us. The only reason He came into our midst was because we had sinned, and He came to save and help us. (However, some think that whether we had sinned or not makes no difference to God in sending His Son to us, since He does so out of love for us, in any case.) And so we rejoice at the help given us, like a life-jacket thrown to a drowning person.

But, just think, if sin had not appeared among us, in the action of Adam and Eve, we would not have been drowning, and would need no life jacket. In fact, there would have been no death (Rm 5.12). But, if no death, then there would have been no urgency to offset death by constantly replenishing new life, to continue what death was constantly interrupting. That is, there would have been no human race to continue and maintain human life, for Adam and Eve would have lived forever. Is that not true? For did not death enter the world because of the sin of our first parents? No sin, no death, so, if no death, no Jesus, since Jesus came among to save us from sin and death.

So we would not even have existed were it not for the sin of our First Parents. Is that not so? And, if so, would that not have erased the reason why Jesus came to live among us: to save us from sin and ultimately its aftermath (death), so that we might enjoy a new and different life, no longer here on earth, but in heaven?

So, apparently we owe a lot to sin, especially the sin of our first parents: our very existence is explained by the need to offset the inroads of death among us, caused by the impact of sin on Adam and Eve, forcing them to become parents rather than just a loving pair of friends living on forever.

But, since this is not the case, the birth and death cycle began and apparently would have carried on in this world of ours in that rhythm, had not Christ come into our midst, been born as one of us, lived and died as we do, but, in the process, breaking the horizontal line of our existence, intersecting it with a vertical line, breaking the flat plane, and opening up a whole new vista of possibilities for us: a new kind of life, life with God. And this is what Christmas is all about: the Good News that a Savior has been born for us, to save us from our flat existence in this kind of life we have been living, and opening up for us an entirely new and different vista of life: life with God.

This is what the birth of Jesus Christ means for us, and this is why it is so important that we link or unite ourselves to Him as our Savior, our life-raft, which we do by faith and all the sacraments, especially the new-birth sacrament called baptism, whereby we are born again to a new kind of life, begun here below, continuing on in heaven above.

So how grateful we are that Christ has come to bestow new life on us by saving us from our sins. And, by the way, perhaps we should tip our hats to our first parents. Had they not sinned, there would have been no death, and, had there been no death, there would have been no need to offset death by new births, and, should this have been the case, where would we have come into the picture? So this is a bad news, good news, scenario. It starts off badly, but, happily, it ends on a happy note, thanks to what we are about to celebrate on Christmas Day: the birth of One Who will indeed die, like the rest of us, but Who will rise to a new life that becomes ours too, through the waters of baptism. So let us hold on to our baptismal certificate. It is our ticket to heaven.

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Author: CPP

We are a community of laymen and laywomen who, with vowed Passionists, seek to share in the charism of St. Paul of the Cross through prayer, ongoing spiritual formation, and proclamation of the message of Christ Crucified.

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