“In this the WORD too bloomed and bore fruit, having become flesh, and those who tasted of its goodness, he made alive, since he too was not made known to us without the wood.” Clement of Alexandria, Stromateis 5.11.72
Our faith understood as the indwelling gift from God that has led us to God, is vibrant and alive. This may sound strange since we are used to things that are alive (aside from ourselves) as being separate from us. Yet we are told that our Faith is alive. Thus, a journey into Faith is actually a journey into God!
And what an exciting, joyous, and awesome journey it is! We are met at every turn by revelation and encouragement. God reveals God’s self to us as we engage in speculation and question—even as we hold fast and hunker down. When God finds us in our ‘holed-up’ position, tightly grasping the comforting traditions, truths, and icons of our past, God is pleased to join us there. In that place, we can feel the warmth of Christ’s embrace and the acceptance and love of our Savior. There, with calming love and pastoral presence, Jesus radiates stability even as the Holy Spirit leads us on.
Into the ‘little-known’ and ‘less traveled’ we are invited by the loving arms of our Savior through the compelling guidance of the Holy Spirit. As we journey, we are invited to sample—to consume the gifts from God that will feed us and help us grow. Today, we eat from the Tree of Life to be fed and to live forever.
“Then the Lord God said, ‘. . . Now, lest [the man] reach out his hand and take also of the Tree of Life and eat, and live forever—” therefore the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden to work the ground from which he was taken. He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the Tree of Life.” Genesis 3:22b-24
In the Garden, Adam and Eve did what we do: they consumed, not as they should, but as they wanted. They took and ate from the Tree of Good and Evil, consuming that which was forbidden and leaving that which was freely given. In their broken state they were protected from themselves by being denied the freedom to eat of the Tree of Life lest they live forever in their broken state. The Tree of Life was a healer, a re-newer, a resurrector; it was the Revelation and person of God’s-self made present through which eternal life was given. In their pure state, Adam and Eve ate freely of this tree, but in their broken state with no better understanding than selfish desire, they could not.
Now separate from the Garden, we have been cut off from the Blessed Tree. Now alone, we continue to consume everything we can, trying to rid our pallet of the bitter taste of the tainted fruit, but to no avail. Only God can reveal that Tree to us and invite us to eat once again, and God has! The “Hard Wood of the Cross” rises from the earth, arms outstretched to shade the weary and embrace the traveler. “Take… Eat…” the Tree speaks the Word; the words of life feed and heal the broken into wholeness. Journey there and you will find the Tree of Life, the Cross of Christ, the first fruit, the Body and the Blood of Eternal Life freely offered to make you whole and fill you completely. The Tree of Life, the Cross of Life,
What an exciting, joyous, and awesome journey!
Peace on your Journey,
Father Bill Burk†