Written in Heaven
#WrittenInHeaven is the podcast for July 7, 2019, Palm Pilots, gadgets, casting out demons; they all have something in common. Listen here and find out more: Download it into your phone. #Luke10 #Judgment #BookOfLife #RoshHashana #Daniel #Revelation #Goal #Mission #Rejoice #Celebrate #Heal #CastOutDemons
Full Text of Podcast, Open Here (For Our Deaf and H/H Brethren)
For listener supported My Spiritual Advisor, this is Fr. Mark Kurowski with a reflection for Sunday, 7/7/2019 The 14th Sunday of Ordinary Time.
Please pause this audio and read Luke 10:1-11; 16-20.
“He who conquers shall be clothed like them in white garments, and I will not blot his name out of the book of life; I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels,” says Jesus in Revelation 3:5.
“At that time Michael, the great prince, the protector of your people, shall arise. There shall be a time of anguish,…But at that time your people shall be delivered, everyone who is found written in the book,” says the prophet Daniel about the Resurrection of the Dead.
In the salutations at the end of Philippians, St. Paul says to the community at Philippi, “3 Yes, and I ask you…help these women, for they have struggled beside me in the work of the gospel, [with]… the rest of my co-workers, whose names are in the book of life.”
Finally, Revelation 20:12 says this about the resurrection of the dead and the judgment: “Also another book was opened, the book of life. And the dead were judged according to their works, as recorded in the books.”
The idea of a “book of life” is present throughout the Scriptures. We can see in all the prophecies about the end time and the judgment, there is a book that God writes down the names of those who choose him and his ways. Last week, I stressed that we ought to not be so focused on the rewards of heaven, but believe in and work for the mission of God. What is the mission of God? That all who wish have their names written in the book of life is the mission of God.
The scene is that when the dead are raised, those whose names are in the book of life will live with God forever. According to the Talmud, the compilation of Jewish Rabbinic teachings on the scriptures, there are three books, the Book of life, the Book of Death, and the Book of in between. Those who are saints have their names written in the Book of life each year at the Jewish New Year, Rosh Hashanah, which will come upon us in September. In fact, there is a greeting spoken by Jews to one another on Rosh Hashanah, “May your name be written in the Book of life.” It is to this book, the book that will be opened at the judgment, to which Jesus speaks. Our goal is that our names will be in the book of life at the end.
Just like Moses commissioned the 70 elders to listen to and adjudicate cases of the Torah, Jesus is spreading out the work for the mission to be complete. He sends out these disciples in the Gospel of Luke’s reading for today with the power to cast out demons and to heal. They are to take no provisions for their mission and rely upon the hospitality of those who hear, believe, and get their names written in the book of life.
I had a professor in seminary at Mundelein who used to say, “Remember, brothers, the goal is salvation, you know.” The mission is salvation. The mission is getting names written in the book of life. The response of the disciples is very human.
You know how crazy we are about gadgets. I remember when Palm Pilots, the precursor to the smart phone, came out. Think of a smartphone with all the apps and no phone. That was a Palm Pilot. What was great about it was that you could download all kinds of books, keep your calendar sync’d with your desktop computer, at a certain point, your email you wrote would be sent upon syncing with the desktop, and you could keep your address book current on both the Palm Pilot and your desktop computer.
I had a fancy Palm Pilot that opened, flipped, and then had a stylus for the screen. As with any tool, it is really cool at first, but then you get used to it. I loved that I didn’t have to carry my Bible and liturgical books with me. They were in the Palm Pilot, like they are with the smart phone. Yet, at the time, it was very new and shiny! When I would go into the hospital, I would pull out my Palm Pilot to read scripture to people and when I was done, they would say, “Hey, let me see that thing!” They paid no attention to what I just read, or the fact that I was reading the Word of God. They were captured by the novel new thing.
This is the same with the 70 sent on the mission. When they got back, they were raving about how demons obeyed them. “Hey, Jesus, it was SO cool! Bam! We cast out one demon! Bam! We cast out another! It was so awesome that those demons obeyed us. Yeah, you shoulda been there.”
What was missing in all of this is that Jesus treats this like it is matter of course for those who believe. We could learn a thing or two from this. We should assume that God is going to provide. We should assume that God is going to heal. We should assume that God is going to deliver us. We should assume that we are in a spiritual war and that we have the goods. It should be part and parcel of our way of thinking; the way we organize our life. Those who live with God have God to care for them.
So, the 70 should not focus on the Palm Pilot, but on the Word of God. They should not focus on what they can do with their new found power and authority. They should focus on using that power and authority for the mission. They should focus on rejoicing that their names are written in the Book of life.
When our churches move from therapeutic models to mission models of Church, there should be a shift in the way they operate. The goal is to be holy, believe in God, go out and bring in people who are lost, lost in sin, and need God in their lives. You know them, you run into them all the time. When you believe, you will be given power from on high to lead them to have their names written in the Book of life.
We are lambs in the midst of wolves, with our reputations torn to shreds, maybe we are even persecuted, but we are to expect this. We were told this. We should persevere and rejoice because our names are written in the book.
Let me say one last thing about this topic. I speak often about focusing on the mission because so much of our church life is like religious Oprah, or a Christian version of the TV show The View. Friends, if you believe in Jesus Christ, have confessed him with your lips, have attended to the Sacraments and worship, and try to live the life Christ calls you to live, your name is written in the Book. Your name is written in the Book! Sometimes, our reaction is, “whew”. It is as if the act of Christ on the Cross didn’t win this for us, but our own striving did. The Good News is that God loves us and now wants us to strive with Him helping us. The fact is that our name is written in the Book and he is helping us keep it there. This ought to be cause for celebration and joy.
We ought to be people who have the security of knowing where we are going because of God’s goodness, not our goodness. We believe and trust him and his word that we are saved. As we go along, we will meet people and they will be healed in some way by God through us and our actions. It will happen, but that is not our only joy. Our most complete joy is that our name is written in the Book of life so that at the judgment, we can approach the throne with confidence and joy. In the meantime, we should live lives that act like our names are written in the book.
I know that it is not the Jewish New Year yet, but, “May your name be written in the Book of life.” Amen.
This audio is under the copyright of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated and may not be used, reduplicated, or distributed for commercial use without the express written consent of My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated. My Spiritual Advisor, Incorporated, 2019.
Donate $2 for This Podcast
Mark Kurowski, M.Div.
Spiritual Director, Author, Blogger, Podcaster, Theologian