By Jonathan Lynch
As we enter into the Easter season, with the memory of Christ’s passion and death still fresh in our minds, and the glory of the Ascension before us, I am reminded of a passage of scripture from the Prophet Isaiah:
“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and return no more thither, but soak the earth, and water it, and make it to spring, and give seed to the sower, and bread to the eater: so shall my word be, which shall go forth from my mouth: it shall not return to me void, but it shall do whatsoever I please, and shall prosper in the things for which I have sent it.” (Isaiah 55:10-11)
Now, this prophecy is true of every word that God speaks. It is true of the laws that He has written on our hearts: if we allow His law of love and truth to soak in and soften our souls, our spiritual lives will see a great increase.
It is true of the ancient words of all of God’s prophets: nothing that God proclaims will fail to be fulfilled in His good time.
It is true of His creating word, by which He formed the cosmos and gave life and order to all creation: every corner of the universe is filled with elements, light, energy and even life, all of them following the pattern set by their Creator, and thus glorifying the One who made them.
But it is also true of Jesus Christ, the eternal, uncreated Word of God, who perfectly fulfilled this prophecy in His suffering, death, and resurrection.
Just like the rain that waters the earth and gives life and nourishment to all living things on a physical level, Jesus’ Paschal Sacrifice on Calvary brings us spiritual life and nourishment. In a particular way, the Seven Sacraments, the seven great fountains of grace established by Christ, all flow from the mystery of Calvary. When Jesus gave His life as payment for our sins, not only did He satisfy God’s perfect justice in offering Himself in our place, but He also opened the floodgates of heaven’s graces for all those who would accept them. If we let Him, He can take the arid wasteland of our hearts, and transform them into beautiful gardens. He can bless our undertakings with success, and above all, He feeds us with His very body and blood, allowing us to have a foretaste of heaven here on earth.
Jesus, when He returns to the Father at Pentecost, does not return void. He perfectly carried out the Father’s will, (Luke 22:42) accepting even death: death on a cross. (Phil 2:8) Now, it’s pretty obvious that Christ did “Whatsoever God pleased,” as the prophet proclaims above. But it’s not so readily apparent when we look at Calvary that Jesus prospered, as the next part of the sentence implies. Sure, He ended up rising from the dead, so He wins in the end. But couldn’t God have redeemed us without all the agony and humiliation of the cross?
As we read in St. Paul’s letter to the Romans (Rom 6:23), the wages of sin is death. When we sin, we sign our own death warrant. In justice, we deserve to die when we reject the author of life. It’s pretty simple. But Jesus offered to take your place, because He loves you so much that He wanted to spend eternity with you in Heaven, and He believed that you were worth dying for.
When we consider whether Jesus’ life was a success, we have to remember what He came for. Jesus did not come for earthly glory and accolades. He came to redeem, and so His life must be viewed through that lens. When you really love your mother, you don’t give her just a single chocolate chip for mother’s day to express your affection. You give her a whole box of fancy chocolates. In just the same way, Jesus held nothing back in expressing His love for you. Not only did He accomplish the work of salvation, He prospered in it. He gave everything, down to the last drop of His blood. And when He returned to the Father, He returned in glory, having accomplished all that He had come to do.
All for Thee, Sweet Jesus,
Through the Immaculate Heart of Mary,
For the glory of God
And the salvation of souls!