The Improbable Truth of Faith and Love

There are billions of galaxies in the universe and billions of stars in each of these galaxies. One can imagine trillions of planets revolving around these stars. It is almost a  statistical certainty that there are some life forms in at least a handful of these planets. So, it is most probable that we are not alone in this universe.

In the billions of years the earth has been in existence, we have yet to make contact with any other life forms out there. Is it possible we are indeed unique in the whole universe? We may never know the answer.

Believing in a God, who often confounds me with contradictions and surprises, I am thrilled by the thought we could in fact be unique in the whole universe. I am even more thrilled by the thought that I am loved in a personal and unique way among all the billions of human beings on earth. And when I die, all he has to do is say “Rise!” and I am born to eternal life. Improbable? Hard to believe? No less improbable or hard to believe than the life of the person of Jesus. Or, that we are unique in all of the universe? Yes, I believe.

At other times, when I realize that half of the world’s seven billion people live on just two dollars a day, I am filled with gratitude and humility but also with sadness and anger.

I am grateful for the roof over my head, the three meals a day on a table I can call my own, the clothes to keep me warm and comfortable through the seasons. For 3.5 billion other people, every day is a struggle just to find and get these necessities. I am filled with sadness and anger because there are enough resources for everybody and we can wipe out poverty but would not. I am filled with humility because there is probably more joy and happiness among the 50% for whom keeping body and soul together is a daily challenge than among the top 1% who own millions that they do not really need.

Christ responded to this paradox of human existence with his own paradoxical and counter-cultural teachings. He preached the Gospel of love and sharing, even to the extent of loving our enemies and forgiving those who hurt us. He said the first will be last and the last will be first. He told his disciples to give up their lives, including everything that they possessed, for the sake of others – even of strangers. He railed against selfishness and greed and hypocrisy. Hard sayings to swallow. Even harder to live by. But in the face of the paradoxes of the world, is there any other way?

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