Getting back to
Brothers and sisters: Whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come. And all this is from God, who has reconciled us to himself through Christ and given us the ministry of reconciliation, namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting their trespasses against them and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
We continue in our Lenten series on getting back to Eden.
St. Paul makes Jesusâ€™ mission to the world explicitly clear for the Corinthians. He came to reconcile the world, to eliminate the old and make all things new. This is the practical application of the parable of the Prodigal Son.
The son had taken all of the gifts his father had given him and had wasted them. The fatherâ€™s work and savings, a lifetime of achievement had been squandered: he squandered his inheritance on a life of dissipation.
The son returns, somewhat penitent, but still in a way self-serving. He is going back to the father to once again take advantage of his generosity â€“ even if as a slave. Yet the father welcomes and forgives.
God knows our selfishness, our sins, our failings, yet through His Son Jesus, He no longer counts this against us. The old paradigm, the old way of doing things has been destroyed. There is a new way of forgiveness, reconciliation and welcome in spite of our sins. â€œWe must celebrate and rejoice, because your brother was dead and has come to life again; he was lost and has been found.â€
How did the sinful son feel? Overwhelmed by his fatherâ€™s welcome, by the freely given and unconditional love he received, he had to be changed. The selfish motive for returning had been removed by the fatherâ€™s welcome. The past had been forgotten. No grudge existed. Healing did.
The world of Eden is a world of healing love â€“ sin is completely removed. While we remain in a world marred by sin, we live in the promise of a world without sin. Sin weighs on us not because we expect punishment and retribution, but because God is so very loving. He welcomes us back to the Eden born of His great love. How can we not regret our sin, and pledge to improve our lives, when faced with such a great love?
St. Paul, in reminding us of this great love, tells us that we also have something to give back. We are to become ambassadors of reconciliation, making the promise of Eden known to all we encounter. We are reconciled so we may reconcile.
Total reconciliation with God is not something that exists somewhere in the future. In Jesus, Eden is for today and for all.