A project worth continuing

It was early evening when his phone rang. He picked up the receiver, and heard the voice of a friend: “I’m feeling awful. I’m going to kill myself tonight.” Then the phone went dead.

The man receiving the call was a police officer. He immediately ran to his car, and drove back into town. He drove up and down the streets of the city. He wanted to find his friend, and get him to an emergency room.

Then he saw him. He jumped out of the car and ran to his friend. “We’ve got to get you to an emergency room!” The other man resisted, so that the officer had to use his handcuffs to get his friend into the car. They got to the hospital in time.

I think that story exemplifies what Christianity is all about. An Episcopal bishop was once asked why he was a Christian. He responded: “All religions can help us to find God. Only Christianity tells us that God is trying to find us.”

The police officer looking for his friend is a symbol of Christ looking for us. As the officer drove into a darkened city, so Christ came into a dark world. A world that loses its God can become terribly dark. We have only to look around the world to see the effects of selfishness and cruelty, violence and crime.

If we humans could create life in a laboratory, and we saw such behavior in the works of our creation, we might be tempted to scrap the project and start over with something else.

Yet, God never gives up on us. God didn’t create us out of curiosity. God created us out of love.

Lent reminded us of the terrible price of sin. It would lead to the cross. It’s humbling to remember that when God came among us as a human, we humans killed him.

Yet, the much more wonderful memory is that God did not stay dead. Easter celebrates the victory of God over death. And the even more wonderful part of the story is that we get to share in that victory. Death will touch each one of us, but death won’t win. The image and likeness of God that we were created in becomes the image and likeness that we will share forever. St. Paul put it so well in the first letter to the Corinthians: “Where, O death, is your victory? Where, O death, is your sting?”

In the month of May we honor Mary, the woman who gave birth to Jesus. We call her the Mother of God. She gave birth in time to the One who is before all time. We can also call her the first Christian because she gave birth to God in flesh and blood. And we are called to do the same.

When you and I live and love, give and forgive, God becomes visible in the world through us. God lives and loves once again through us.

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Father Joseph Breighner

Father Joseph Breighner

Father Joseph Breighner is a priest of the Archdiocese of Baltimore and a columnist for the Catholic Review.