TUESDAY HOMILY: The Third First Thing
GREENVILLE, SC (Catholic Online) - For Advent it is traditional to contemplate the "Four Last Things", but wishing to stand this on its head, I've been writing this Advent about "the Four First Things" The first two "First Things" were God and Light.
The third "First Thing" to consider is Life. I call Life a "first thing" because Life is greater than all the different manifestations of life we see around us. A tree is alive. A baby is alive. A giraffe is alive. The grass is alive. Bird and bees and bugs and butterflies are all alive. Life, however is something they all share, but which is greater than them all. Life is a first thing. It is there before all the created world, and the created world comes from that great source of life.
God created all things because his own life overflowed in the act of creation. That's what Life does. It creates more life. Life is that indefinable essence that is infused into all things living. Where does life come from? It is easy to think that it comes from the natural processes of regeneration. A man and woman come together and a new life is formed.
However, just as Light is greater than the sources of light--the sun, moon and stars--so Life is bigger than the natural sources of life. Life comes from God, and because it comes from God it bears the mark of God. His imprint and his image is in all things. Life is God's essence in all that lives. What is alive is alive in and through the greater life of God.
The right to life therefore is the first and most basic right. Without the gift of life we are dead. Without the gift of life we have nothing, and that gift comes to us from God himself.
This is why Catholics are "pro Life"--not just because we think abortion is unpleasant--not just because we are against euthanasia or embryonic stem cell research, not just because we are against the culture of death in all its forms. No. We are pro life because we embrace and affirm the supernatural and wonderful gift of life that comes from God himself, and which is a sign of his own life present and alive in all living things.
In the seven days of creation God's life overflowed to the whole world. Within those seven days his abundance and goodness was shown and his life giving creative power was seen. As he gave life to all things he revealed who he is. He is the Lord of Life. This is why death is so terrible--because it snuffs out the God Life.
This is also why Jesus Christ the Lord of Life could not remain dead. At Easter he rose because he was not just an ordinary man, but the Source of all things living and the source of Life itself. He rose to show that death has no victory over life, but that God's life is eternal.
It is this life we look forward to welcoming as we celebrate the birth of Christ, for there the source of all things living took the form of a newborn child.
Fr Dwight Longenecker is the parish priest of Our Lady of the Rosary Church in Greenville, South Carolina. He is author of many articles and books on the Catholic faith. Visit his website and blog at www.dwightlongenecker.com. To subscribe to Fr Longenecker's new e-newsletter go here:
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