Mar 14 • 13M

What Jesus Did for US

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Today’s first reading connects us to some of the most controversial of all of Christianity, how we are saved and what does salvation mean.

We see in the first line the line, we are justified by faith. In other words, many people interpret this to mean since we believe God has reconciled us by faith. Evangelicals would use the terms just if I’d never sinned. Justified. So, the understanding is that since we were justified by Christ’s action on the cross we are saved by Him through no merits on our own.

This is why many Christians reject us as Catholics because they believe and many Catholics believe that we embrace almost the polar opposite which we do not. That is that regardless of Jesus’ actions on the cross we have to act in good faith and through that act of good faith we are saved.

True Catholicism rejects both positions or better yet is actually a combination of the two.

Through no merits of our own, Jesus’s death on the cross brings us to salvation which is initiated by the Father with the obedience of the son, we are saved. However, this gift of salvation needs a response and that response is our way of living based on our accepting this gift.

So we are saved by God’s grace through Jesus’ actions on the cross which opens up the gates of Heaven for us. This makes Heaven our new promised land which is what the Bible teaches.

However, as I bring this up, this also opens us up to a connection with God that leads us to live and exist in a whole different way of looking at things. It means that we maintain a relationship with Christ and order our lives in light of this relationship. Everything is connected to our prayer life and this changes our way of being.

Now, if we talk about salvation then we have to talk about its polar opposite, not being saved. In many circles this means, Heaven and Hell. Which is eternal happiness or fire and brimstone. However, if we look carefully, as many people mention, this does not make much sense. So what makes sense?

The saints tell us that the prime reality and pain of Hell is eternal separation from God. So the prime reality and joy of Heaven must be eternal friendship with God. This is what Heaven is all about and indeed this is what everything about our salvation points to.

Pope St. John Paul II indicates Heaven is not a place as much as a state of being. The Catechism of the Catholic Church explains that Heaven is eternal life in communion with the Holy Trinity. You see the two definitions pivot on our relationship with God. This relationship begins here not there.

This is why our definition is deeper than some. Some will tell you that once you accept faith in Christ or are Baptized, you are saved and that can never be taken away from you.

We believe something different

We believe something different, that our Baptism and our sacraments are manifestations of Jesus’ actions in the Holy Spirit in our lives to draw us into a deeper relationship with Him. Therefore, the focus is on drawing closer to Christ and not being separated from Him.

Therefore, what we are called to do is really draw closer to him in prayer and bring everything that is essential in our lives to him in this relationship. Things going wrong in your work, make sure you bring it to prayer. Things going wrong at home, make sure you bring it prayer, at school and allow that prayer to be an opening of the Holy Spirit to come deeper within you and built your relationship stronger because that relationship is the key to salvation.

So it is stronger than just whether are we going to Heaven or not. It is how well we allow Christ into our lives and become a part of our lives in everything we do.

This is why one of the great problems we have in our Church is defining our faith strictly in morality and following rules which is what I mention all the time.

The saints always talked about bringing the Lord into our lives in such a way that it transforms everything we do. To speak to the Lord as you would a good friend as St. Alphonsus of Liguori teaches us and to not be afraid to express to the Lord everything you would to a good friend. When things go wrong speak to him and talk to him about why he is allowing this to happen. When things go right be thankful for this. Open yourselves to everything that Jesus is saying to you.

Maybe giving another example, over and over again, I hear people who have deep spiritual lives say that when things go wrong they turn everything over to Jesus and Mary.

That is the level of trust that we have a call to live. We may be there yet, but that is the level to which Jesus calls us. That is the level that helps us more deeply understand the gift of salvation that the Father gave to us through his son in the Holy Spirit.

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