Jesus had trudged up the hill to Calvery after a harrowing night at the hands of the Roman soldiers. He was forced to carry his own crucifixion cross and was urged along by a vicious whip wielder.
The bystanders were a mixed bag. Some were jeering, others crying, and many were just silent watchers.
By the end of the day he had forgiven the soldiers, offered the good thief a place in heaven and arranged for his mother to be cared for.
Luke tells us that at the end Jesus cried out, “Father into your hands I commit my spirit”. (23:46). The day Jesus was baptised by John in the river Jordan the Father sent down to him his Spirit. (Matt 3:16). It was this Spirit that comforted, supported and assisted Jesus in performing the tasks for which the Father had sent him.
And so, Jesus the man died. Let us use our imagination to consider what happened next.
A specially selected group of angels gently took his spirited soul and proceeded to the heavens where there were millions of other souls of the faithful departed who had died and were waiting at the closed gates of heaven. Some had been waiting here many, many years and although they had received the promise of heaven in the Triage Area upon arrival, were waiting expectantly for that day when the gates would be flung open by the Saviour himself. Unlike his last trip on earth up the hill of Calvery, this trip was accompanied by a tumultuous welcome by all the souls lining the Highway to Heaven.
I should digress here to explain the Triage Area. It was the heavenly administration centre where all souls were brought by their individual guardian angels after death had occurred. St Peter had been appointed manager of this unit and had outsourced much of the initial computer contact operations to a group of highly trained angels who called themselves Gabriel’s Girls. You see, God in his wisdom had developed a comprehensive algorithm which had been downloaded on each of the Gabriel’s Girls tablets.
As each guardian angel arrived at the Centre carrying the soul which had been their responsibility throughout its life, and for some angels this had been a tough gig, they were ushered into a Triage reception cubicle where they handed over the sim card on which they had been recording the life details of their charge. Included on the card were the number of times the
guardian angel had attempted through urgings and promptings to turn their charge towards accepting the presence of God in their lives.
The card was inserted into the tablet and immediately it was automatically analysed. The computer programme was indeed extremely complex as it took into consideration every aspect associated with each thought, word and action and included mitigating circumstances and pain suffered through both mental and physical activity. Within seconds, the soul was left in no doubt as to where it would progress to next and why such action would be taken. There was no right of appeal, as all the avenues that the soul might feel would warrant a second look had been completely and fully examined. The result was indisputable.
The door to the left led to the Hades Inferno, which was not a place one would willingly choose at which to spend the rest of their days. Although wanting desperately not to proceed, these souls were prodded forward along the Highway to Hell by the Archangel Michael and his boys. Michael was no friend of Lucifer, hell’s manager, following a much earlier confrontation and delighted in sending suffering souls down to the Hades Hell Hole. Interestingly enough, the area was not one where fires actually burned, yet souls were tormented to the point where they would wish for flames to end it all. But alas, this would not happen. The reason for this form of environment will become obvious as this story progresses.
The middle door seemed to have the most use. It had a gold sign which read, Welcome to the Highway to Heaven. Our loving creator desperately wanted as many souls as possible to enter here. The computer algorithm was deliberately weighted to give each soul every opportunity to proceed through this door. High on the acceptance list were those souls who had accepted and believed in Jesus who had suffered and died to save them. Others were still granted entrance because the love they had shown towards others exceeded their transgressions. Also, it was determined that many had suffered enough during their lifetime in helping and supporting others and therefore the door was opened for them.
The door to the right led to the Freeway of Frustration and a holding area where those souls who were primarily judged in the reasonably good bracket, had not performed sufficient good works to balance their personal transgressions which were considered not serious enough to warrant eternal damnation. Here they would be required to wait for varying periods depending on the figure produced by the computer printout. This waiting concept was a period of immense frustration. The waiting time would automatically be reduced should those below offer up prayers for the repose of their soul. The only saving grace was that the soul in this holding area knew that at some time in the future they would be allowed into heaven. In the meantime, the frustration gnawed at their very soul.
Meanwhile, back to our story of the day when Jesus returned to his Father. Protected by his caring angelic group he was taken though the cheering excited souls along the road towards the golden gates which he willingly pushed open.
Inside was a world of wonder to be enjoyed by all. But for Jesus, he had only one thought in mind. To fall into the welcoming arms of The Father.
The two embraced clinging together as one.
“My Son, my Son,” was all the Father could say.
Jesus responded, “Father, that which you knew must happen to save those you have created has been accomplished. My Spirit, You and I are one and I am happy that those whom I have chosen, with some help from us, will take the Word to the world.”
“We still have some work to complete” said the Father. “But firstly, let those souls who have waited for this day for so long enjoy our company and the place I have prepared for them.”
“Later we will descend along the Highway to Hell and leave a permanent image of your crucifixion on the hill overlooking Hades. This will serve as a constant reminder to those souls who chose to flaunt my law on earth, that you died for them. By their actions they refused to accept your saving offer and will now suffer eternal damnation.”
The Father continued, “As the sun rises on Sunday morning, Angels will roll back the stone sealing your burial tomb and you will once more walk on the earth as you predicted. The soldiers will be unaware of these happenings and you will be free to confirm your resurrection to those whom you choose. You will not be hampered by human restrictions. You will be a free Spirit but you must point out to those you have chosen that you will return here to your rightful place at my right hand and it will be their responsibility to take your message to the world.”
“Father”, said Jesus, “while I was with them, they relied on me to lead them. They live in difficult times. What can we do to make their quest easier?”
“You will need to access the situation,” said the Father, “but, you might consider asking for them, along with all who come after them, to be given the support of the Holy Spirit. This will be your decision”.
And so, Jesus once more walked on the earth. He saw the anguish on the face of Mary from Magnalia who thought someone had stolen his body and decided she would be the first person he would approach. Mary couldn’t believe her eyes when she spoke with Jesus, but he pointed out this was as he had predicted. He would rise from the dead on the third day. He asked her to tell the others she had seen and spoke with him. As he disappeared, she ran back to the locked room where they were all located to tell them the news.
The rest is history. Jesus appeared to many over the next few days. He organised and enjoyed breakfast with Peter and his fisher mates. He walked to Emmaus with Cleopas and his friend and even though he had told the apostles what would happen after his death, it took his presence on a number of occasions to convince them he had risen from the dead. Appearing among them in the locked room seemed to be sufficient for most to understand, but Thomas was not convinced until he placed his fingers in the wounds still open on the body of Jesus.
Jesus told them he would not be with them much longer and they were naturally concerned what might happen should he leave them. On the next occasion when they were in the countryside together, he explained to them how his wish for them was that they would remain one with him as he was one with the Father. He promised he would not leave them orphans and would ask the Father to send them his Spirit to be a constant help and support for them in spreading the Word.
And so it was, that on the day we celebrate as Pentecost, a wind blew over them and the Father sent the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Christ to live within each of them. Through our Baptism with water or desire that same Spirit lives with us as well. We read how the arrival of the Holy Spirit showed itself as ‘burning tongues of fire’ (Acts 2:3). This same situation occurred at the Baptism of Jesus prior to his commencing His public life. “God’s gift was not a spirit of timidity but the Spirit of power, love and self-control” (2Timothy 1:6).
To me, this then is the true understanding of our Faith. Not so much that Jesus rose from the dead. He said he would do this. It happened, and many witnessed his being alive after the resurrection. This is more fact than faith. However, believing that the Holy Spirit of the resurrected Jesus lives within each one of us is what I call ‘our Faith’. Now if we really believe this, how difficult is it to sin, knowing that you and the Spirit of Jesus are acting together in all that you think and do?
If we follow the example of Jesus, then before He wanted anything from the Father, he went to the Father, thanked him and asked him to bless his action (ref. the Last Supper). So that is what we need to do as well before we ask the Father for anything. So, our prayer is channelled through the Jesus and the Holy Spirit living within us, to the Father. (Simple).
The Eucharistic prayer recited before the Consecration during our Mass is the long version of this request for the Father’s blessing on the bread, the work of our hands, we offer up with the fruit of the vine.
In the time of Jesus that is what they had as a meal. Today we have a main course and sometimes even a desert followed by tea or coffee. If we ask the Father to bless our meal and we remember the sacrifice Jesus predicted at the last supper, then is there anything really different happening from what happens during our Mass?
I’m Peter Mack and that’s how I feel.