This “free gift” is about attaining salvation in Christ. A gift that God gives freely.
God has loved you from all eternity.
In the beginning, we were one with God. Life was good. The bad news is that our first parents, Adam and Eve, disobeyed God and brought death to the world. This was not a punishment by God, but simply a natural reaction in the created order, in the same way you burn your hand if you get to close to fire. To disobey our parents or superiors comes with a consequence, however when they disobeyed God-the highest authority, it came with dire consequences that would affect every single person in history. Every single person was now born with a natural inclination to sin and disobey God. From that point forward, all were destined to die and find their eternity in Hell.
God did not want this, nor did He orchestrate it.
God in His love for us did not leave us abandoned. Shortly after the fall of Adam and Eve, God tells us in Genesis 3:15 about a woman who will crush the head of the serpent. This prophecy was about the Blessed Virgin Mary, Mother of Jesus Christ.
Mary was chosen to bear, with no need for another man, by the power of God’s Holy Spirit, God the Father’s only-begotten Son, Jesus, who would be the Sacrificial “Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world”.
Mary lived a life without sin, remaining a perpetual virgin. In this way, she was made the perfect vessel for the Son of God. By her “fiat“(her “yes” to the call of God), and by God’s grace, she destroyed the disobedience of Eve. In so doing, she gave the world their salvation, Jesus.
Jesus also lived a life in perfect obedience to the Father, without sin. In this way, He became the New Adam. He was born with a fully human nature and at the same time also a fully divine nature. This is a great mystery, however it will make more sense when we look at it from the perspective of redemption.
Jesus came to save all of humanity, past, present, and future.
The disobedience of Adam and Eve had eternal consequences that spanned all of time. Not only did their sin affect us, but we also have all sinned fallen short of the glory of God. Therefore, only someone who was able to access all of time(also known as being omnipresent) could in fact break sin and it’s hold on creation forever. Therefore Jesus came to take on for us our sins. Because He is God, He was able to take the sins of every single human being from the beginning to the consummation of the world and place it on Himself. He chose to bear the pain and pay the price for our disobedience so that we could come back to God the Father. Jesus was betrayed, beaten, scourged, spat upon, crowned with thorns, stripped naked, and carrying a cross made of wood through the city of Jerusalem, carried it out to the city dump, Golgotha, on which He was to be then nailed to that Cross and hung high for the world to see. This alone would be enough to kill a man instantly. However this was not enough, can you imagine the internal pain of a person who committed incredible atrocities? Genocide, rape, telling your parents a lie, everything down to stealing a Snickers from the corner store. Jesus bore it all. He saw you from the Cross that day. He loved you at that moment so incredibly much that he was willing to take the blame for everything you had done. He was willing to bear the pain of your sin and go to Hell for you.
THIS IS LOVE!
He died for you. But death could not hold Him and He rose from the dead three days later. In dying, He destroyed our death and in rising He restored our life. Never to die again, Jesus bridged the gap between each of us and God the Father.
But how were we to enter into this freedom that Jesus won for us?
Jesus gave us the Church, led by Peter, the Prince of the Apostles, to guide us into this freedom by means of the Sacraments of the Church. Before Jesus was to ascend into Heaven, He promised His Apostles to send to them the Promise of the Father, their Holy Spirit, to enliven and strengthen them. 40 days after Jesus ascended into Heaven to take His place at the Right Hand of the Father, God fulfilled His promise and sent the Holy Spirit upon the Apostles and Mary while they were praying together. Filled with zeal, they went out and began preaching the Good News of Jesus Christ. This is the Birthday of the Church. After this event, known as Pentecost, the Apostles began to build the Church, ordaining Bishops and Deacons. They celebrated Mass in it’s most basic form. The Church was booming even though the authorities did all they could to destroy the Church. Bishops and Priests of the Catholic Church today find their direct lineage starting with Jesus Christ laying His hands on the Apostles, who then laid hands on other men making them priests and Bishops, and it goes throughout history to the priests and Bishops we have today in an unbroken line. It is through these Bishops and priests that we receive the Sacraments of Sanctifying Grace.
Through the Sacrament of Baptism, we are freed from the Original Sin of Adam and Eve and the slavery of sin and receive the gift of God’s Holy Spirit to dwell within us and become an adopted child of God. Baptism declares us citizens of Heaven (John 3:5; Romans 6)
Through the Sacrament of Confession, Jesus pours out His Divine Mercy on us through his priest, as we confess our sins in a spirit of true repentance and ask for God’s mercy. He washes us clean of all sin.
(Exodus 20:17; Matt 5:28).
Through the Sacrament of the Holy Eucharist, Jesus unites us in a deeper way by transforming bread and wine into Himself and entering into us and becoming one with us like no other human being could ever imagine.
Once we have received the Sacraments, we are able to enter fully into a deep relationship with God and begin to live the life He calls us to.
Jesus is calling you to His Church (Matt 16:18). He wants you to experience the freedom He has won and enter into relationship with you. He wants you to be one with you and bring you when this life ends into full communion with The Father, and the Holy Spirit, and be forever with Him in eternity with the Saints and Angels.
How do I begin this personal relationship with Jesus?
If you’re not a Catholic…
It all begins with a decision. You have to make the honest decision to seek Christ in your life.
1. Make a prayer of commitment to Jesus. Ask His Blessed Mother to pray for you and introduce you to Him.
2. Take the time to research what the Catholic Church teaches – go to our Resources page and check out the many links. Ask questions, seek out faithful Catholics to ask those questions. Catholicanswers.com is an incredible resource for that.
3. Find a Catholic Church and attend Mass.
4. Speak to a Roman Catholic Priest about what it takes to enter into the Church. Ask to join the RCIA (Rite of Christian Initiation for Adults). This is not a commitment to join the Church, but a way to further grow in your understanding of the Faith.
5. If all of this seems like something you are ready for, once you have gone through the process of the RCIA you are able to receive those Sacraments of Sanctifying Grace. GET READY! God will come in power into your life if you allow Him.
6. Live the faith, pray, make sacrifice, grow in holiness of life, and become a Saint.
7. See you at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!
If you are already a Catholic…
Jesus wants you to be in union with Him. It’s never to late to repent and turn your life around.
1. Make a prayer of recommitment to Jesus Christ. Ask His Blessed Mother to pray for you and introduce you to Him. Renew your Baptismal vows
2. Go to the Sacrament of Confession. Be made clean in the Blood of the Lamb. Make the commitment to never sin again.
3. Go to Mass every Sunday. Go during the week if possible as well.
4. Reacquaint yourself with the teachings of the Church. Turn to the writings of the Saints. Read something from them every day. Dust off that Bible and read it.
5. Make time to pray. Turn to Jesus every day. Find a Eucharistic Adoration chapel, or just go to a Catholic Church that is open and pray before Jesus present in the Tabernacle as often as you can.
6. Make sacrifices.
7. Live the faith, pray, make sacrifice, grow in holiness of life, and become a Saint.
8. See you at the Wedding Feast of the Lamb!
If you’re ready to begin this great adventure of knowing Jesus and becoming a Saint, know that we are with you, the Church is with you, the Saints and Angels are with you. Heaven rejoices over you wishing to return to Jesus Christ. It’s not a bed of roses that we proclaim to you today, but a life of love, grace, peace, and joy. There will be many sacrifices, and many crosses that come your way. Embrace them. Jesus will use those to make you holy and draw you to Himself.
If this article has blessed you or inspired you, or you need some more insight and need to talk, we’d love to hear from you. Send us an email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Please ensure the subject reads “Catholic Question”.
We look forward to hearing from you.
God love you,
In the Immaculata,
YOUR FRIENDS IN TEAM ORTHODOXY