One of the greatest paradoxes told to us in the Scriptures is that if we would save our life, we must lose it in Christ (Luke 9:24). That is we must die to this world to inherit eternal life. “Eternal” does not simply refer to the length of the afterlife, but to the fullness of it. To inherit eternal life is to become fully alive.
This idea that we must die to ourselves to go up to something higher is really evident all throughout nature. And thus minerals, such as carbons, and other aspects of the soil are taken up into the plants by being leached out of the soil. But in so doing, they “come to life” in the plant and are no longer simply inert minerals. Plants too must die and be taken up into the animal that eats them. But in so doing become part of sentient life. And animals to must die, being taking up into the human person. But in so doing they go up higher, to a richer life I joined to the life of a person with a soul Who ponders meaning, studies the stars, writes poetry, and knows God. And Man too must die to himself, die to this world, to be swept up in the life of the Trinity in the glory of Heaven. In every stage, we die to something lower, to go to something higher.
The cartoon below is a very moving story, which requires us to suspend some notions of reality. Obviously robots do not have consciousness and feelings, but this one does. The robot is sent to the home of an older woman to take care of her.
And as the robot is taking out-of-the-box, and his switch is put on, at first he behaves just like a robot, going through mechanical chores, mechanically. But in its association with this woman, he begins to go up higher. Dying to itself and serving this woman puts it in association with her. And this relationship begins to give it almost human traits: love and loyalty, joy and sorrow, even desire. We see his first change as he admires a sunset, in imitation of his lady mistress. The lesson here is that we learn what it means to be more fully human from one another and by gazing into the light of God’s glory.
It seems that the circus is coming to town, and Oh know how the robot wants to go. The tickets are purchased, and the anticipation builds.
But one thing we notice, is that through the story, this robot lives on battery power. And no matter how good no battery power is, it can only get you so far before it lets you down.
The day of the Circus arrives, and Oh the joy that waits. But alas, his mistress dies that very day. Misunderstanding the higher life he has been serving, he tries to revive her by putting batteries in her pockets. But no amount of batteries can help, for the power this world is powerless over death. Upon her death he sits gazing at the sunset remembering a time when he first began to experience life.
We who view the the story know that the robot cannot long last, for the battery power, which symbolizes the things of this world, is sure to fail. Sure enough, five days later, his lights go out, and his eyes close in a kind of death.
But in dying, we are born to eternal life. And suddenly his eyes open, in a world brighter than he has ever known. And there she is! His mistress, the one he served. She has come to walk with him to the circus, a circus far more glorious than he could have imagined. In dying to his battery life, he is gone to real and eternal life.
But Father, but Father, robots don’t have life. I know, it is just a story. But like every story, it’s about you and me. For now, we are like servants, on battery life. And we learn what it means to be more fully human from one another, and gazing at the light of God’s glory. But to become fully alive requires that one day our battery finally dies. And then a new and more glorious life awaits if we faithfully serve in the house of mother Church, in the house of God’s kingdom. In losing our life for the Lord and his kingdom be we gain it back more richly. From Battery life to real life.