Saturday, 19 December 2015
Why did Jesus have to come to earth?
Another week, another Friday. Father Ignatius set out from St Vincent Church to St Joseph Catholic School to take on the Catechism class with the 15 years old.
It was always a challenge facing those youngsters, especially since he allowed a few minutes at the end of class for free discussion. They could ask anything they wanted and he promised to give them an honest answer – even if he didn’t have an answer, he promised them to say so.
A young pupil put up her hand and asked:
“Why did Jesus have to come to earth? Why didn’t God continue to speak through the prophets like Moses and all the others? And send His Commandments and messages that way? Did Jesus really have to come and die for us to be forgiven? Couldn't God just forgive us?”
“That’s an intelligent question Catherine,” replied the priest, “in fact it’s more than one question; all intelligent at that!”
The young pupil smiled proudly.
“I am not God,” said Father Ignatius, “and I cannot possibly explain what went through His mind when He sent us Jesus; or His motivation for Christ’s Virgin birth, sinless life, death and Resurrection. I know and believe that God decided to send us His Son Jesus to die for us. Yes, He could have just forgiven us, as you say. Being God, He could have done what He wishes, and still can. But I believe that He sent us Jesus, His Son ... and when Jesus was raised to Heaven He sent us the Holy Spirit, who is still with us today ... ”
He stopped for a while to clean his glasses which gained him some thinking time; then putting them back on he continued:
“Let me tell you a story I heard years ago …”
The whole class was now focused on his every word. He knew how to captivate their attention and he firmly believed that honesty, combined with his modern-day parables, would make them remember what he had to say and hopefully mold them into a lifetime founded on the Word of God.
“Once upon a time there was a farmer living in Canada where, as you know, the winters can be very cold and miserable.
“One such cold winter evening in the midst of a very violent snow storm, the farmer was in his home keeping warm by the fireside when he heard banging on the side of his house.
“What could it possibly be? He thought as he heard the continuous thump, thump, thump coming from outside?
“He ignored it at first, but as his dog was getting a little fractious by the sound the farmer put on his heavy overcoat and woolly hat and went outside to investigate.
“He struggled in the blinding snow and nearly slipped once or twice.
“As his eyes grew accustomed to the darkness he discovered that a flock of wild geese had lost their way in the snow storm and landed in the field near his house.
“There were literally hundreds of them. Disorientated, cold and wandering everywhere.
“They were landing heavily like an airplane with failed engines, and many of them crashed against the side of the barn.
“The farmer realized that left out in the cold they would soon perish without any shelter.
“So he opened the doors of one of his barns and hoped that they would go in for the night.
“But no ... they remained out in the cold cackling and walking around in circles rather than seek shelter in the barn.
“He tried to shoo them in by walking behind them with his arms spread out ... but to no avail ... the geese ran everywhere except into the barn.
“He tried to persuade his sheepdog to herd them into the barn. But the dog had better ideas in mind. He raised his back leg to answer a call of nature then ran back into the house.”
The class of students laughed in unison.
“The farmer thought to himself ‘If only I could talk to these birds in their own language and explain to them that the barn will shelter them from the snow ... It’s their only way to salvation from this freezing cold …’
“Then an idea struck him.
“He opened another barn and let out his own geese in the yard. The yard was now full of his flock as well as these Canadian wild geese. All cackling away in the freezing snow.
“After a minute or so he shooed his own geese into the open barns again and to his relief the wild geese followed them to safety.”
The priest stopped to allow the story to sink into their young minds.
“You see … I think God had the same problem with us humans on earth.
“For years He spoke to us through the prophets as Catherine said when she asked her question. But did we listen … of course not. We continued in our sinful way.
“So God sent His only Son to us, as a human, so that we may see Him, hear Him and hopefully listen to Him speaking to us in our own language.
“Some of us have accepted Jesus as the Son of God and have heeded the Word of God, as spoken through Christ our Lord.
“But years later, even now, there are many who are not listening still.
“And that’s what we must remember at Christmas time. It isn’t just about the baby Jesus being born in a stable. It is more important than that. It is about the reality that God Himself visited us here on earth all those years ago.”