“You shall have life and that abundantly.”
What did Jesus’ followers make of this bold promise? He had shown them that he could cure the diseases that afflict both body and mind, and, in bringing Lazarus back from the dead, He lifted the veil to reveal a part of the mystery of His own being. Some of His hearers, however, must have taken him for a crude magician, casting out demons (so the Pharisees said) with the help of Beelzebub. Once He had returned to His Father, He left the gift of life with His Church, sending the Holy Ghost to His Apostles. Even then, Simon Magus thought their miracles were a trick, and he was willing to pay Philip good money if only he would share the secret.
Between the miracles of Christ and his Church and the trickery and schemes of Magus runs the gulf that separates Heaven from Hell. The serpent in the garden persuaded Eve that, if she and Adam ate the fruit,
Ye shall not surely die: For God doth know that in the day ye eat thereof, then your eyes shall be opened, and ye shall be as gods, knowing good and evil.
The serpent lied, and one consequence of Eve’s and Adam’s rebellion has been to make us prone to accept, ever since, the same lying promise to make us immortal gods with power over life.
Pagans and Christians alike instinctively sense there is a kind of immortality offered by children, who carry on their...