When Jesus walked this earth he gathered, fed, forgave, sent, healed, joined and appointed. Jesus then bodily departed from this earth. However, Jesus chose to continue this work but on a much greater scale. Before ascending to Heaven, Jesus promised to send the Holy Spirit, who would achieve all these things through others. Jesus continues the things he did in Jerusalem but now throughout the earth through his Church by bringing the Sacraments to people.
The Sacraments are an encounter with the Risen Jesus. Through the Sacraments Jesus gathers us (Baptism), feeds us (Eucharist), forgives us (Reconciliation), sends us (Confirmation), heals us (Anointing of the Sick), joins us (Marriage) and appoints us (Holy Orders). So Jesus himself gave us the Sacraments to continue his earthly ministry.
The Sacraments touch upon all the stages and important moments of Christian life. They give birth, help us to grow, bring healing, bring strength and propel us in love towards others. They accompany the stages and moments of our physical life. Jesus walks with us throughout life and in the Sacraments offers us his presence.
The essence of Christianity is God’s plan to include us again in his life; something which was lost with original sin and in turning away from God. When two people love each other they live a life in accord with each other. They partake and share in each other’s life. God desires this kind of communion but on a much deeper level. The Early Church Fathers never tired of proclaiming that Jesus shared our life so that we may share in his life. Jesus came to bring us into communion with God’s very own life and this is brought about through the Sacraments.
God wanted to show his love so he sent his Son to show us the extent of that love. In the person of Jesus, Divinity and Humanity are inseparably joined together. Jesus is both human and divine. His physical body pointed to this fact. The Sacraments are like this union. The physical elements of each of the Sacraments point to a joining together of the physical and the divine. In them we find signs that make a deeper reality present to us. In them we encounter the true presence of Jesus.
The Sacraments achieve what God said they will but God loves us too much to force cooperation with and realisation of his presence upon us. God gave us free will so we could decide whether to choose life with him or not. Likewise, the Sacraments can momentously transform us (as the lives of the Saints show) if we are open to God and allow them to. The choice is really ours.
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