Antoinette Tuff and the Averted School Shooting: God’s Love in Action

Spiritual Insights for Everyday Life

Last week, on Tuesday, August 20, 2013, Michael Brandon Hill, 20, walked into an elementary school armed with an AK-47 assault rifle and 500 rounds of ammunition. The elementary school was the Ronald E. McNair Discovery Learning Academy in Decatur, Georgia.

Hill fired only six shots.

No one died that day. No one was even injured.

Why not?

Because in the front office of the school, that troubled young man met Antoinette Tuff.

And Antoinette Tuff loved him into laying down his weapon and surrendering to the police.

But if you ask her, it was God’s doing.

Antoinette Tuff: A Vessel for God

Yes, Antionette Tuff was one of three school staff who had received training for handling potentially dangerous situations.

However, she was not even supposed to be in that place at that time. Here’s a segment of her interview with Anderson Cooper on CNN, in which…

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Omni-Benevolence part 1

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Omni-Benevolence part 1

          In my theology classes I do not remember talking about Omni-Benevolence. There was always the traditional Al powerful, All-knowing and Present everywhere God but not the specific phrase Omni-Benevolence. Of course “God is love” was mentioned all the time and emphasized as the reason behind ALL of Gods actions as seen in the Bible. I just find it curious an “ALL GOOD GOD” did not accompany the three traditional Omnis.

Omni-Benevolence is the most important of the Omnis. In fact it is the one major revelation of God that is not automatically apparent when viewing the natural world which could account for “Omni-Benevolence” not being accounted among the Omnis. Also in our need to anthropomorphize God an ALL good supreme being is a difficult concept to grasp since we rarely see in man or nature examples of this quality. Nature can be extremely cruel, unforgiving, impersonal and destructive. And that is just nature. Human nature can take on such a turn of evil upon any slight or offense real or imagined. The endless struggle for sustenance and the watching out for predators both animal and human plus random acts of unprovoked violence often leaves people so afraid they won’t leave their own homes. Life does not appear to be ‘good’ ALL the time.

If there was any quality of God that must be ‘revealed’ to us it is that God is good. An all knowing, all powerful and all present God who is also good and loving and kind ALL the time is really counterintuitive. In scripture we often find an all powerful God being the instigator of many events we consider not good at best and when looked at thru modern eyes downright evil.

The first mention of ‘goodness’ being associated with God found in the Bible is in Genesis when God finished creating the world he called it good. This linking the works of God to goodness was part of the oral traditions of the Hebrew people probably long before it was written in the middle 5th century BCE. It appears though this goodness was always provisional based upon the behavior of His chosen people. They had to be commanded to love their God and to treat others as best they could. Commanding obedience or else sets up a relationship of fear not of love. Obviously submitting obedience to a good ruler is much better than a murderous dictator however the idea we will be punished for not submitting rankles in the hearts of people who love freewill and are naturally prone to want to live as they please. Hence all the ups and downs of the Hebrews described in the Jewish scriptures as the result of the conflict between a Good God who orders subservience and people who exercise their freedom of choice.

This ‘good world’ created by God was often seen as the very instrument God would use to punish disobedience making God seem not so good at all.

Gods commands to love him first and completely and to treat our neighbors like we would want to be treated is of course for our own well being as well as our neighbors if followed as a rule of life would indeed lead to a very harmonious society.

All I’m trying to point out here is we do not have any idea what an all good being is. We are cemented in the world of duality a world of good and evil. This was the lie of the serpent that we would be like God if we came to know both good and evil. Believing that God “knows” evil would not make him an ALL good God. In my view real knowledge and being are the same thing. In God there is no knowing about like we humans know about many evil things but are not evil ourselves. We are kinda of all mixed  up about the whole good and evil conundrum, sometimes showing great acts of both goodness and evil. Many heroes in our mythologies and current dramas are the ones who battle their own evil tendencies and once conquered become the savior of the day. This is not God though. An ALL good God has no evil tendencies to conquer. God does not know evil nor does he know about evil. Evil could never enter his mind.

This knowing that I’m talking about is like we know how to walk. We are walking beings. It is our identity as humans. We rarely think about it unless something happens which interferes with this aspect of out being. Even learning how to walk would not happen if it weren’t a part of out genetic inheritance. Having two legs is part of the definition of humanness.

God is good and does not know evil. God was good before creation. Creation comes out of his goodness. God never changes and so would not change after humans decided to not follow his injunctions. God had no reason to be angry before creation and we have not made him angry after creation. It is we who are trapped in the world of duality and believing we are like God in knowing both good and evil. This is not the truth.

Here is an interesting quote from the 7th century CE saint Isaac of Nineveh; “A handful of sand, thrown into the sea, is what sinning is, when compared to God’s Providence and mercy. Just like an abundant source of water is not impeded by a handful of dust, so is the Creator’s mercy not defeated by the sins of His creations.”

More on the Omni-Benevolence of God later.

Have a blessed day everyone.

Thought for the day : The projection of the world of illusion

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Thought for the day : The projection of the world of illusion

By Dr. David R. Hawkins

          “In order to project the world of illusion, the ego-self experiences itself as separate from its own creation. The greater the feeling of separation from God, the greater the anguish. As a consequence, the self now fears annihilation, death and even worse.—perhaps endless suffering at the hands of an angry, retaliatory God who has been made angry by sin. The lower levels of perception become preoccupied with energies of negativity which are the ego’s conceptions of itself at the lowest levels. It now fears its own worst projections and struggles with the opposites of heaven and hell.

Man is therefore not the victim of an ‘out there’ to be feared, but its originator. These imaginations are not even personal but merely consequences of the interaction of fields of consciousness with their hidden inner attractor fields which determine the content of each level of consciousness. The ego’s final victory is the belief that its own illusory reality created by its own projections was ‘created by God’. Thus religious truth becomes obscured by religious superstition, misinterpretations, and false beliefs. It is important to realize that that which is of God brings peace and that which is not of God brings fear.” From The Eye of the I; from which nothing is hidden.” Pg 223-4

 

Ego-self and sin nature are the same and seeing life thru its lens produces this insane world. Sin is insanity. Is it not insane to believe we can be separate from ALL that is which is God?

Re-contextualize

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Re-Contextualize

What is life all about? The first time we ask this question is our first attempt to see things differently—re-contextualize. The question itself presupposes we are in search for a different point of view about this world and our place it. We will do this many, many times throughout our lives until we hit on the one that answers the question for the last time. Our pain keeps us wondering. The journey between our first asking and the final one can take a life time, some even say it can take many life times or eternity.

I’m going to start off with the punch line.

This is a perfect world.

Everything without exception is exactly the way it is supposed to be and everything is happening as it is supposed to happen. There are no accidents in this world and no this does not mean everything is predetermined. Only God is inevitable. No matter what choice we make and no matter the consequences—there are always consequences—it is the right choice. I think this is the meaning of “Thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven.”

If you are still with me and haven’t thrown up your hands in disgust; thank you for staying and I hope by the end I will have explained myself. Not that I expect you will agree with me but this is the re-contextualization I have come up with in my 63 years on the planet—so far.

Before you go any further please take the time to watch this video. The human race has been stargazing since we could see and wondering [attempting to re-contextualize] what’s it all about?

“Once a photograph of the earth, taken from outside, is available…a new idea as powerful as any in history will be let loose.” Fred Hoyle 1948

After watching this video I could see the perfection of our spaceship earth.

This blog is a longer response to the one I left the other day at; “Follow Me Films” February 17th entry Where can I unpack this luggage?? Please advise…her very heart felt sadness, remorse and guilt about her past really affected me. Her crazy journey through bi-polar disorder reflected my own—I still have a bottle of Xanax in my cabinet, why I don’t know? because I haven’t needed it for years. Neither have I needed the alcohol (four years sober), pot (two years) or other prescriptions (many years off those, they never worked for me). They just made me…..well you know?

I too can give a laundry list of all the hurt people I’ve  left in my wake the things I have done to others, all this pain I created in the world.

Twice incarcerated.

I can also recount the things did to me as a child: I can remember being attacked at 8 years old by an older boy, me on my stomach and him laying on my back but that is all I remember until being so angry I wanted to kill him. I remember going home getting a kitchen knife and was going to do just that until I saw him walking down the road. We stopped and stared at each other but I was to afraid so I just threw the knife at him and ran home. Of all the kids I knew when growing up his name is the one I remember most often. Was it an accident that my first pastor had the same name? I asked him if he had ever lived in Florida, he said no. Just recently I met a Buddhist monk with the same first name, he couldn’t  have had the last name because he is Chinese. Coincidence or lesson in forgiveness?

I think this is when my rage started, when I began to lash out at the world. What better way to protect myself than to strike first. My parents who were both raised in abusive situations only new the same when it came to raising us five kids.

I became a bully—Please see “Time to jump into the conversation”—just ask my younger brothers and sisters. I’m the oldest.

My first re-contextualization came in the late 60’s while on acid. After the party was over and all had gone home I decided to walk down to the beach and try and figure out why the world was in such a mess. As I was sitting on the rocks watching the surf I was suddenly looking at the earth as seen in the video above. Maybe the image had been placed in my mind by the recent 1968 telecast of the Apollo 8 journey to the moon when the first image was shot of the earth from outer space.

In this vision I saw the entire earth in front of me. Then I started going back in time to the beginning of human history and the thought came to my mind that the world was in such a mess because somehow we began wrong. Well the only place I knew to find out about beginnings—being raised Christian Science—was in the Bible. I went back to the apartment, waited for my friends to wake up then asked them if they had a copy, the woman did and just happened to be a Christian.

Well this was the beginning of my re-contextualizing at 20 years old. I won’t go into the intervening years but fast forward to what I have come up with so far in regards to circumstances, events, decisions and consequences.

How can I say this is a perfect world? Once we come to know what the purpose of anything is and we see that, that thing is fulfilling it’s purpose we can say it is doing what it is designed to do.

To show what our journey here is designed to do I need to quote a few writings from different religious traditions.

Judaism:

Ecclesiastes 12.13 “Everything you were taught can be put into a few words:

Respect and obey God!
This is what life
is all about.” CEV

Christianity:

Luke 10:25 An expert in the Law of Moses stood up and asked Jesus a question to see what he would say. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to have eternal life?”26 Jesus answered, “What is written in the Scriptures? How do you understand them?”27 The man replied, “The Scriptures say, ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart, soul, strength, and mind.’ They also say, ‘Love your neighbors as much as you love yourself.’”28 Jesus said, “You have given the right answer. If you do this, you will have eternal life.” CEV

The Bhagavad-Gita. 12:6-8

Quickly I come

To those who offer me

Every action,

Worship me only,

Their dearest delight,

With devotion undaunted

Because they love me

These bondsmen

And I shall save them

From mortal sorrow

And all the waves

Of Life’s deadly ocean.

Be absorbed in me,

Lodge your mind in me:

Thus you shall dwell in me,

Do not doubt it,

Here and hereafter

Dr David R. Hawkins:“Be passionate for God, not belief systems. That is the only real decision that has to be made and applied to any and all situations. The question is always whether to be at the effect of the world or aligned with the Truth of God instead. The search for enlightenment is different from the seeking of worldly success.” I, Reality and Subjectivity pg 355.

“You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden.” Jesus Matthew 5.14 Amplified Bible

“For behold, the kingdom of God is within you [in your hearts] and among you [surrounding you]. Jesus, Luke 17.21 Amplified Bible

It is the Kingdom of God the Light of the world in us that is constantly drawing us to God. Teaching us how to love God and our neighbor We reach God and our only happiness when we realize all other sources of happiness have failed us. This happens by the decisions we make and the consequences of those decisions.

There is no other way for us to be cleansed from our selfish tendencies than for God to allow us to do them and experience the consequences and then volitionally turn from them, according to Emanuel Swedenborg. We must use our free will and choose to leave the hell we have made.

This world is the perfect school to accomplish that purpose.

Every person who comes into our life is there to help us regardless if we call the experience good or evil. Our only function is to forgive the situation—the other person—and learn to love our neighbor within the learning opportunity.

Everything we need is right here right now for our complete happiness and fulfillment.

In every life situation I look back on a Divine dance has occurred between all the people involved in that situation—including all my divorces. All of us were brought together via the spiritual principle of ‘Like is drawn to Like’. Our energetic fields brings others to us for the purpose of helping us to grow in consciousness. Sometimes our teachers look like devils and sometimes we play that role. Darth Vader needs a Luke Skywalker. Look at the people you hung out with in the past and see they are not there anymore and see those who are here now—they are and were your teachers as you were theirs. A Divine Dance.

As we move higher and higher in God Consciousness we will see less strife and more peace. More forgiveness and love. More LIGHT. We will radiate more and receive more and the company we keep will automatically change to fit our new consciousness.

To wrap up two more quotes:

“[Love/God] Doesn’t keep score of the sins of others,…” I Corinthians 13.4 The Message.

“Love holds no grievances.” A Course in Miracles Lesson 68 in the workbook

How to feel more inner peace

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Today I am re-posting this wonderful reminder on how to practice inner peace from Dr. Ben Kim’s newsletter

How To Feel More Inner Peace

Posted By Dr. Ben Kim

Updated on February 27, 2013

For most of the year 2000, I worked and lived at a fasting clinic in northern California where I spent time with many groups of eclectic guests from all over the world.

I often tell my wife that during that year, I felt like I was floating around in a bubble, almost immune to any downers that life brought my way. Sure, there were times when I felt a bit crummy, but most of the time, I felt like I was at peace, able to feel compassion for anyone.

The source of my deep well of peace was a commitment that I made with myself to live with the following philosophy in mind:

All behavior is motivated by love or by a need for love.

Whenever someone gave me reason to feel angry, sad, anxious, or fearful, I was able to slow my thoughts and emotions down, remind myself that my antagonist was likely deprived of love, and choose to respond with kindness and understanding.

Okay, maybe I wasn’t able to do this every time I felt I was wronged, but I was definitely on a plane of thinking and being that Jesus Himself would likely have appreciated. I was in the zone that Gandhi must have been in while he was allowing himself to get physically smacked around.

Here’s the thing: Over the past decade, whenever I have been able to purposefully respond with a generous heart in situations where most sane people would have given me full license to respond with righteous anger, I have always been able to walk away with peace in my heart. Always.

I think that this is the magic of taking the high road. Sometimes, it’s human to want to call out mean-spirited and rude behavior. You feel like you need to preserve some self respect. But interestingly, I have yet to feel like I lost anything by diverting or even absorbing bad energy and being compassionate.

Put another way, I have found that peace of mind is a natural consequence of choosing to be kind in every circumstance (And sometimes, being kind entails walking away in silence).

Without exception, in situations where I haven’t been able to pause and control the urge to let someone know that he or she just generated some bad karma, I’ve walked away feeling worse for having “stood up for myself.” In such situations, I guess I, too, was motivated by a need for love.

Also interesting is that I’ve found that the more good energy I put out there, the deeper my well of good energy seems to become. Consciously choosing to walk with a forgiving and compassionate spirit really seems to fortify the intention to lift others up.

This reminds me of the “what do you get when you squeeze an orange” idea. You get orange juice, of course, because that’s what’s inside an orange.

If we have love and compassion within, love and compassion is what will come out of us when we’re squeezed.

Clearly, choosing to give out love doesn’t happen naturally all the time. It takes work. It takes daily effort to stay in this zone. I find that I have to fill myself up with uplifting thoughts on a regular basis. I think this is why I tend to have my best days when I begin by reading from anything that inspires me to inspire others.

And when I don’t do this work, when I don’t take time to consciously choose to give out love rather than demonstrate a need for it, I find that it becomes super easy to slide back into being a reactive person who is easily offended by anything that threatens my ego.

So I guess the main thought that I want to share is this: if you’re ever feeling crummy and you’re looking for a way to feel at peace, try going back to the well, the well that fuels you to be gentle, understanding, generous, and humble.

Even when you are clearly wronged by someone, I can almost guarantee that if you put your hurt feelings away for just a moment and respond with a gentle, understanding, generous, and humble spirit, you will be better for it. And you can spend the rest of your day knowing that you did your part to create healthy energy for someone else.

I’ve long believed that consistently feeling peace within is the most important requirement for optimal health. Never mind the toll that emotional stress takes on our physical health; without inner peace, how can any of us consistently make healthy choices?

Here’s a short list of books that, over the years, have become steadfast sources of inspiration for me to get back or stay on track in living with a giving spirit:

The Art of Loving, by Erich Fromm

The Prophet, Kahlil Gibran

The 7 Habits of Highly Effective People, by Dr. Stephen Covey

A Course In Miracles

You Can Heal Your Life, by Louise Hay

And we can never go wrong in meditating on the following passage on love from the first book of Corinthians, chapter thirteen:

Love is patient, love is kind. It does not envy, it does not boast, it is not proud. It is not rude, it is not self-seeking, it is not easily angered, it keeps no record of wrongs.

Love does not delight in evil but rejoices with the truth. It always protects, always trusts, always hopes, always perseveres. Love never fails.

One funny thing about love that I’ve observed over the years is this: the more we give it to others, the more it comes back to us from all over. And the more we demonstrate a need for love by getting easily offended, the less it seems to flow our way.

To the magic of finding inner peace by giving love.

– See more at: http://drbenkim.com/how-to-find-peace.htm#sthash.IDSxKUML.dpuf

Forgiveness Level 2 part 2

Green succulent with water drops 2-7255Level 2 part 2

“The Unpardonable Sin.,” or “…speaking against the Holy Spirit…” is unforgiveness. For many years I was puzzled about what “speaking against the Holy Spirit” meant. And many times I was very afraid I had committed it and was now unredeemable. What a terrible guilt trip is laid up the church because we didn’t see what was so simple. The answer was staring me in the face the entire time in the Lords prayer. Matthew 6.12 “Forgive us for doing wrong, as we forgive others.” Our forgiveness is inextricably tied to our forgiveness of others. It is the Holy Spirits job to bring us to this place so we can learn how to forgive. Learning to forgive makes us more like God who’s mercy endures forever, see Psalm 136.

All of the difficult situations we get ourselves into to are the karmic lessons on how to forgive, to love our neighbor as our self. Notice here too that loving our neighbor is also tied to loving ourselves. It is our “enemy” who has come into our lives to teach us this one lesson—we are not separate, as I treat you I will be treated, when I forgive you I will be forgiven. Not learning this is refusing to let the Holy Spirit rejuvenate us. What is left for us if we refuse to let the Holy Spirit do his work in us? What will happen is we will get ourselves into similar situations over and over again until we learn the continuous process of forgiveness. Until we learn the final lesson of radical forgiveness. This is where we forgive the entire world. Every single thing that upsets our peace will need to be forgiven. For more on this see A Course in Miracles and Disappearance of the Universe.

“Father forgive them for they no not what they do.” Jesus

Forgiveness is healing as Jesus demonstrated many times. If we want to heal the world we see we must forgive it and we too shall stand up and walk as humans once again.

So by the end of the mile your are so into helping this soldier carry his load that you actually volunteer for the second mile. Here is true freedom that you can now turn what your oppressor thought was punishment into a gift to him. This is the beginning of the application of love, compassion and understanding.

Yep, letting it go, surrender to the situation, surrender to God and let it go. Your probably saying “Easier for you to say.” Well yes it is easy to say but may take a life time to learn. I believe this is the only lesson we are here to learn. Forgiveness of the world—radical forgiveness—is leaving the kingdom of the world for the Kingdom of God. More on this in part three.

A HUGE caveat here. If you are in an abusive situation do all you can to get out as soon as possible. 70×77 does NOT mean you have to keep taking it. If you are not free to leave then you can still practice right where you are until the opportunity presents itself to get out. But do get out.

For most of us the practice of the 70×77 comes after getting out then, when you are in a safe place, every time the situation comes up in your mind let it go, and keep doing it. I have gone thru this more than once and even now when I remember the situation I let it go again, even years later.

In the Sutra on the full awareness of breathing, found in Tich Nhat Hanh’s book Awakening of the Heart: Essential Buddhist Sutras and Commentaries the last four of the sixteen methods of fully aware breathing we find:

13. “Breathing in, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas. Breathing out, I observe the impermanent nature of all dharmas.”

14. “Breathing in, I observe the disappearance of desire. Breathing out, I observe the disappearance of desire.”

15. “Breathing in, I observe cessation. Breathing out, I observe cessation.”

16. “Breathing in, I observe letting go. Breathing out, I observe letting go.”

Hanh, Thich Nhat (2012-01-10). (p. 24). Perseus Books Group. Kindle Edition.

Time to jump into the conversation

Why I am writing this blog

The first reason is after 9/11 and the rise in attacks in the name of God I have to speak out about such events. These current events are not new in the history of many religions; in fact the only major religion I can think of that hasn’t attacked other beliefs—all forms of attack are the same and have the same end in mind from subtle condemnation to the grossly physical—in the name of its theology is Buddhism. Not withstanding Buddhism doesn’t teach that there is a “God” in the western sense however it may be the wisest method to seek God without the trappings of a belief system demanding that others suffer because they have a different point of view.

Since 9/11—9,257 people, so far, have been killed. 2,977 in the original attacks (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Casualties_of_the_September_11_attacks) and 6,280 and climbing every day at the rate of 1.7 per day, (source: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/United_States_military_casualties_of_war)

We have done more damage to ourselves than al-Qaeda ever dreamed of in their wildest fantasies. Not just physically but morally and mentally as well. Attack always brings fear and we are a nation engulfed in fear. It is the atmosphere we breath each day. Fear makes people slaves.

There must be a better way? My aim as I work through my theology will be to show that forgiveness is that way.

How is this accomplished? I’m still working that out on a personal level for it must be practiced by me first in all I do. We had a choice after 9/11. As a “Christian” nation I believe we made a mistake.

One day as I was walking down the street God spoke to me and said; “God is not a bully.” Why are you telling me this? I responded. God very gently said; “You are a bully.” Well that hit home because of course I was and still find myself wanting to coerce others in one form or another. After that encounter I began to see many different ways I had bullied people in my past. And this blog is an account of the journey of re-evaluating everything in the Light of a gentler non-condemning and non-coercive God.

And this is the second reason: for much of my life I was a bully and I have seen first hand the effects that attitude has had on my three previous marriages, my walk with the Lord and just the general disruptiveness of always attempting to get my own way no matter what and at whose expense, plus needing to be “right”. After giving a sermon, as a guest speaker, on this topic a parishioner came up to me and very gently said I was like a bull in a china store. Well amen to that.

When I began to explore the nature of my bullying I discovered how I had interpreted the scriptures to match this personality trait. Seeing God as someone who will punish all men in the eternal flames of hell because they—for one reason or another—were not able to come to the same beliefs as myself was an easy interpretation to make. I also begun to see how I projected my anger and condemning onto God. Again this was very easy to do from reading the many passages in the Old Testament and interpreting the New in light of the Old, in a literal sense.

This blog is an account of my spiritual journey away from such interpretations of God. It will be an attempt to show how His mercy endures for ever and ever because that is who he is. I will discuss how the merciful unchanging God can only love for all eternity and the idea of having anything within Himself other than who he is, is impossible, for everything that is True, Real and that Exists is God and only God. If hell exists and is a place of eternal punishment it would have to exist in God because there is nothing that can ever be outside of Him. He has no boundaries. He is the sphere whose center is everywhere and boundaries nowhere.

I will be talking from a Christian—not Orthodox, fundamental or necessarily evangelical—perspective because since I gave my life to the Lord in 1971 he has never left me in even most apostate moments.

John 12:20 Now there were certain Greeks among those that went up to worship at the feast: 21these therefore came to Philip, who was of Bethsaida of Galilee, and asked him, saying, Sir, we would see Jesus.”

At that time seeing Jesus meant looking for a single man but how are we to see him today? It is my wish to see him in everyone I see; for if “we have done it unto the least of these you have done it unto me.” I take the least of these to mean every  individual in the entire human race. If we see our brother/sister this way, how could we even attack our brother or sister in anyway whatever, weather he be an abortionist, gay, al-Qaeda, our worst enemy, someone of differing beliefs or our next door neighbor. If God wants us to see Christ in All people, which I believe he does it must be He sees his Son in ALL of humanity since the beginning of time. For it is we the “Son of Man” for whom Jesus became the Son of Man to demonstrate what it means to be fully human and fully divine.

 

He wants us to do the same.