THE FIRST AND THE LAST
“I am the
Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and
the end.” (Revelation 22:13) These words of Jesus in the book of
Revelation encompass the story of God’s people, the Church.
Our story, the
salvation history of mankind, begins with God. From the first
words uttered by God at creation, “Let there be light” (Genesis
1:3), to the last words breathed by Jesus on the cross, “It is
finished” (John 19:30), the story of the human race begins and
continues in God. From the coming of the Holy Spirit upon the
Apostles at Pentecost to the Second Coming of Christ at the end
of time, the story of God’s family, the Church, is first, last
and always the work of God.
All that we
are begins in God, who created us in his image and likeness. Our
end, our goal and purpose as his creatures, is also in God, who
shapes us and molds us as a potter molds the clay (Isaiah 64:7).
faith thus begins and ends in God. To allow God to make faith a
living part of our life, we must seek to know him, to make a
home for him within our hearts. As we become the clay in his
hands, it is his love and mercy, his wisdom and forgiveness that
mold us and fashion us into his sons and daughters, brothers and
sisters in Christ.
Abraham, God revealed himself to the Jewish people as One God.
He brought Abraham from Mesopotamia (the Land of our ancestral
fathers) to a new land to make him the father of a new people.
God gave to Moses and to the Jewish people the Ten Commandments,
which first make this declaration that there is one God only,
and that the Lord is God. At these moments in which God chose
the growing Jewish nation to be his people, he revealed himself
as the one and God, and he revealed his statutes and
commandments as his special gift to his people.
people lived in a cultural climate where their contemporaries
believed in many gods, deities who often captured the worst of
human nature in their character but yet were mute and impotent,
unable to speak or act on behalf of those who put their faith
vainly in them. Time and again the Lord God spoke and acted on
behalf of his chosen people, so that the Jewish nation itself
said, “what great nation is there that has gods so close to it
as the Lord, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?”
(Deuteronomy 4:7) They came to recognize the Lord as powerful
and yet loving. The God of all creation was interested in them
in a special way, so much so that, in the fullness of time, from
them a humble virgin gave birth to God’s Son.
Today, we too
live among people who have “gods” other than the one, true,
living God. Money, power, sex, drugs, food, alcohol,
possessions, fame, even other people, perceived rights or causes
- these are the modern gods that compete for the attention of
today’s people, making them slaves to their own vain whims. They
even distract Christians from the way of life Jesus taught us.
Yet no more than the false gods and idols of millennia past are
these false idols of today able to satisfy the yearnings of the
The words of
the Church Father Saint Augustine from centuries ago are as true
today as when he first put pen to paper: “our hearts are
restless, O Lord, until they rest in you.” Only in God can the
mind and heart of man find peace, strength, hope, forgiveness,
love, belonging, tranquility, and fulfillment. Only in the One
who is our beginning can we move toward the end and purpose he
created us for: to live with him in the place he has prepared
for us from the beginning of the world, a place of utter peace
Each time we
worship, the words of the creed reaffirm the basic beliefs that
make up the core of our life of faith, and the Eucharist binds
us in God’s very life. We believe in one God, the Father
almighty; and in one Lord, Jesus Christ, crucified for our sins
and risen from the dead; and in one Holy Spirit, the life-giving
Spirit of Truth; and in one, holy, apostolic, and catholic
Church. In that Church we receive one Baptism for the
forgiveness of our sins, and as members of that Body of Christ
we place our hope in the God who will raise us up to life
forever with him.
How do we live
each day as people of God so as to live forever in His presence?
It is not just reciting words and going through actions. It is
not merely saying one thing while we do another, or promising to
act one way and instead failing to live up to the promises we
have made. It is, more than anything, a matter of following him
as disciples of Christ, and of going where his life on earth did
not see him walk, of doing what he left up to us to accomplish.
By allowing the words of the Gospel and the life of Christ to
work a sound conversion in our lives, we become ambassadors for
Christ, as Saint Paul teaches (2 Corinthians 5:19), bringing his
Word, the reflection of his presence in the world, and the
living Community of faith to all we meet.
In this, the
gift of reconciliation between God and man worked by the God-Man
Jesus Christ, once for all, becomes a reality in our lives.
Christ works through us, bringing his life into the lives of all
those who see us, who hear the words we speak, who witness the
acts we do, that they may realize it is Christ who motivates us
sinners to bring his forgiveness, mercy, and new life to the