God is the Author of Life. Jesus, who is one in being with God our Father, has given us the means to accept His most precious gift of eternal life: “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me” (John 14:6).
In your prayer life you can discern three distinctly possible responses to God’s gift:
- Turning Away
Since God made us in His likeness and image and the Holy Spirit has breathed life into us, we have been presented, through His merciful offer of salvation, with His breathtaking invitation of eternal life in His glory (see A Glimpse into Eternal Life).
All of God’s commandments express His divine love for us and guide us into life with Him. Doing His will by obeying His commandments brings to fruition the great promise of Jesus, in which He offers to graft us unto Himself: “Whoever does the will of my heavenly Father is my brother, and sister, and mother” (Matthew 12:50). “I am the vine, you are the branches… If you keep my commandments, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commandments and remain in his love” (John 15:5-10). This is the key to eternal life, a gift so great and of such joyous dimension that it exceeds the boundaries of our minds, hearts and souls.
The first four commandments focus us on the reality of having been adopted as God’s children. First and foremost we are oriented, through the 1st commandment, to worshiping God alone, which is a recognition of the eternal Truth and reality that every breath of life we have comes from God. This first commandment is the source of all other commandments, including veneration of God and love of one’s neighbor. The 2nd, 3rd and 4th commandments naturally flow from the 1st, impelling us to honor God, His creation, and His gift of life to us through our earthly parents. In this way we lovingly welcome our inheritance as His beloved children (see The Spirit of Adoption).
Turning Away from God
The first commandment is God’s call to life, but through our weaknesses, as we fall into sin, we turn away and instead worship false gods. This severs our connection with the blessings and spiritual life borne by God’s divine grace. The 6th, 7th, 9th, and 10th commandments are meant to help us recognize and reject these false gods, which appeal to our human senses in the forms of pleasure, power, honor and wealth.
Why do we fall from grace in such cases? The reason these sins are so evil is both profound and unavoidable: they cause us to turn in on ourselves, directing us away from the Author of Life and from all people. We create our own truth, our own reality, and our own world. We falsely make ourselves into God, with a selfish form of love that we often fail to recognize as an illusion. This sinfulness reflects the weakening of faith, hope and love. Should we fall into such sin, at that moment there is no more capacity within us to avail ourselves of God’s sanctifying grace, thereby rendering us incapable of truly loving Him or our neighbor. At this moment the world becomes a worse place, not a better one. It can ultimately cause the death of our spirit and have tragic and catastrophic effects on other children of God.
According to the parable Jesus told of the Good Samaritan, our neighbor needs us more than we may ever know: they need us to love them perfectly in the way that God does. When we do this, we have the chance to see a better world and God’s blessings in ways we had never imagined possible. If we turn away from sin and toward God, then through the grace that flows through us, we are able to transmit His love to others, attracting them toward their eternal life with God.
We live in a culture of death, and uncountably many people have innocent blood on their hands. It is so prevalent that, without Christ’s ultimate act of salvation, the human race would be hopelessly lost.
In the most extreme cases, human beings go beyond weakness and utterly reject God’s Holy invitation toward His Life and Creation. In these cases they attempt to destroy God, others and themselves.
The 5th and 8th commandments both address such forms of destruction, which include the physical or spiritual murder of one’s neighbor. Failure to keep the other commandments can lead one by degrees to such evil.
Murder, which is explicitly forbidden by God’s 5th commandment and includes but is not limited to the abominations of abortion, suicide and euthanasia, is an action in which the perpetrator’s arrogance has reached such a level that they absurdly attempt to usurp the power of God (see Evangelium Vitae by Saint Pope John Paul II). The result is irreversible destruction, with enormous consequences that are cosmic in scale. The magnitude of the evil is beyond all measure, and the pain and destruction caused by even a single death can have effects lasting for generations and spanning large swaths of God’s creation.
Bearing false witness, anger and other forms of spiritual violence can have equally devastating effects that destroy reputations, ruin lives and cause psychological trauma. Such evil can and often does inspire others to commit physical violence. This is why Jesus said “You have heard that it was said to your ancestors, ‘You shall not kill; and whoever kills will be liable to judgment.’ But I say to you, whoever is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment, and whoever says to his brother, ‘Raqa,’ will be answerable to the Sanhedrin, and whoever says, ‘You fool,’ will be liable to fiery Gehenna” (Matthew 5:21).
Finally, leading or influencing others to lose or diminish their faith is a form of spiritual murder. So is failing to love others, as cutting them off from love is cutting them off from the life that God offers.
Return to Faith
Christ’s Divine Mercy is offered to all, no matter what state of sin they are in or how far they have fallen from God’s grace. The Sacrament of Reconciliation and interior conversion that the supplicant brings to the confessional are met with God’s gift of new life. It is a gift so great that it often moves even the most hardened sinner to tears.
God’s 1st commandment invites us into His eternal life and joy, and requires the gift of faith. If one lives out this commandment fully, it is possible to respond to God’s love with a saintly life that brings His joy to earth and to the angels in Heaven (see We are Called to be Saints).
Jesus said, “I am the light of the world. Whoever follows me will not walk in darkness, but will have the light of life” (John 8:12). Therefore, as you lead your life in a state of grace, your heart, having been replaced by the Sacred Heart of Jesus (see Heart), allows you to shine His light, giving hope in a world beset by death and despair.