National Catholic Register


The Rescue

BY Simcha Fisher

| Posted 4/2/13 at 8:45 AM


When my sister and I were little, we used to love paging through the first aid manual.  The burn illustrations were our favorite, followed closely by the drawing of the guy whose leg was so broken, the bone was sticking out.  My mother kept taking the book away from us, but we kept finding it.  Our fascination was ghoulish, but we did learn some things: how to get a fishhook out of someone's finger; how to remove a foreign object from someone's eye.  And the various grips you can use to rescue someone who's drowning.

I remembered those grips when I saw this icon of Christ going down to the underworld to find Adam and Eve:


Christ wades down into the darkness where Adam has been waiting, slowly suffocating under the weight of generation after generation of the sin he engendered.  An ancient homily for Holy Saturday has Christ telling Adam:

‘I command you: Awake, sleeper, I have not made you to be held a prisoner in the underworld. Arise from the dead; I am the life of the dead. Arise, O man, work of my hands, arise, you who were fashioned in my image. Rise, let us go hence; for you in me and I in you, together we are one undivided person.

And then He takes Adam with a lifesaving grip. Not with a mere touch, like this:


but grasping the wrist, with the grip of a rescuer:


When we were young, we always assumed we'd have to know these things so we could save other people.  Now I think the harder part is letting ourselves be saved.

Did you fail Lent?  Did you do a terrible job, and were you halfhearted in your penance, and did you resist change?  Did you flounder away from the lifeguard and ignore all the warnings?  Are you still, even now, drifting away from the shore?  Are the voices of your friends and family getting faint, and is your body getting cold?  Are you wearing out?

He will save you. That's why He's here.  He wouldn't have bothered to come if you didn't need saving, if you weren't doing a terrible job.  Just hold out your arms to Him, and He will draw you out, and hold your head up, and take you to the shore, where the ground is firm, where there is air and light.

I don't mean to make it sound easy.  How do we hold out our arms?  It isn't easy, but it's simple:  Pray.  Make an act of faith, an act of hope, or an act of love.  Tell Him whatever you can say sincerely, even if it's just, "I want to live!"  If you haven't been to confession, go now.  It's not too late!  Easter Sunday was not a deadline, it was a beginning.  Take a look at your baptismal vows.  If you can renew them in good faith, then praise and thank God.  If any part of them sounds foreign to you, then beg Him to make you stronger.

Hold out your arms, and let Him take hold of you.  Let him draw you out.