ISSUES OF FAITH: Invite Jesus into your life and heart with no regrets

IT IS GOOD Friday, and in two days, we celebrate the most important date on the Christian calendar: Easter.

Paul tells us that our “faith is in vain” if “Christ has not been raised” (1 Corinthians 15:14).

Peter’s speech at Pentecost is fiery and electric; people are “cut to the heart” as Peter proclaims resoundingly, “God raised this Jesus; of this we are all witnesses” (Acts 2:32).

We are 2,000 years removed from this event, but the message is as crystal clear as ever: Though our flesh will one day cease to exist, our souls will live forever.

Each of us will “give an account of himself to God” (Romans 14:12), a moment we can’t avoid, or try to hide from God like Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden.

If you’ve never taken stock of your life, then don’t wait.

You were created by God, the ultimate compliment. Return the favor by speaking to him in silence. But again, don’t wait.

Thomas Merton, the famed Trappist monk, wrote, “Our ability to see ourselves objectively and to criticize our own actions, our own failings, is the source of very real strength.” This requires some humility, or even a lot, depending on what you discover.

Strangely enough, we are all called to be saints, to exhibit heroic virtue, the hallmark of all the saints. This doesn’t sound easy, and it isn’t, but this is what we are all called to do.

Strange, again, how God would create us, give us free will, implore us to resist temptation and then call us to account. But that’s the way it is, and it’s rather cool when you think about it.

God creates us — fallible human beings — overall likes what he sees, gives us a game plan that we can choose to use or not, gives us prophets and a savior, the communion of saints, a church to guide and help us, and angels, too.

Gives us his son, who dies for us, all of us; commandments and the Holy Spirit; and really for the most part a beautiful Earth.

A lot of us don’t think about any of this stuff. It is not even the doomsayers anymore who are saying that we live in a post-Christian world; it’s kind of become too obvious to even state.

But that again is kind of cool because we are here now to help and try to change that.

It is no mystery that everything comes down to love. How much do you love your spouse, your kids, your family, those whom you come into contact with during the course of the day?

Yes, we occasionally act like jerks, and that’s the Original Sin (Adam and Eve) in us. But we aspire to be like who? The coolest dude who ever walked the Earth, and you know I’m talking about Jesus.

Invite him into your house and your life. He’s free and he’s everywhere.

As Catholics, we experience Jesus in the most intimate way possible, this “collision” (as speaker Mark Hart puts it) between heaven and Earth at every Mass during the Liturgy of the Eucharist.

Sometimes it is easy to take for granted what is happening, and that is just frankly a real shame.

Jesus speaks metaphorically and figuratively throughout his ministry to help his disciples and his followers understand what he is saying in the only way they know. But his passion and his commands regarding the Eucharist — his body and blood — leave no wiggle room that he is speaking symbolically.

In the sixth chapter of John, Jesus multiplies the loaves and then walks on water. We come to the bread-of-life discourse and at this point shouldn’t really doubt or parse what follows.

I remember the actor Robert DeNiro in the movie “The Deer Hunter” saying emphatically to his hunting friends, “This is this!” and though they looked at him quizzically, they knew what he was saying was real.

‘Body and Blood’

Another Robert, Robert Barron, writer and bishop from Los Angeles, said, “If our troubles began with a bad meal — seizing at the foot of the tree of knowledge of good and evil — our redemption is affected through a properly constituted meal, God feeding his people with his own Body and Blood.”

To paraphrase a Catholic writer from long ago, “If it’s just a symbol, then to heck with it.” We should never take for granted this divine collision between heaven and Earth.

Out to dinner with my wife recently, I noticed so many people gazing at their phones, two or three to a table. This is our new world.

Ronald Reagan once quipped that “all great change in America begins at the dinner table.” Everyone has a story and everyone is here because they are an idea of God, with a purpose, a mission.

Look around and engage. Talk with your creator before you have to give an account and can’t explain why you didn’t. Our souls live forever, and that is how the Easter story begins.

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Issues of Faith is a rotating column by five religious leaders on the North Olympic Peninsula. Mike Acheson is director of religious education at Queen of Angels Roman Catholic Church in Port Angeles and St. Joseph Parish in Sequim.