Amazing Grace

In the end, it all hinges on free will.

In St. Paul’s marvelous letter, he reminds the Romans and us of that “happy fault” that caused sin to enter the world yet won for us so great a redeemer. And through the redeeming sacrifice of Jesus, the Christ, we are acquitted of the repeating sins inherited from our first father, and have the guarantee of eternal life, if we but hold fast to our profession of faith.

Now that’s easier said than done. And if your faith is up to the challenge, blessed indeed are you. For this gift comes from on high.

Believe in Me, Says the Lord

Do we believe or don’t we? The Bible paints a vivid picture of a Jesus who is not just a healer, not just a prophet, not just a teacher, not just a missionary, he is ALL of the above and much more. He never claimed to be anything but the Son of God, and paid the ultimate price for this unwavering claim. But He also claimed that He would be raised again in three days, and if we believed in Him, we would have life everlasting. If the resurrection didn’t happen, then we are the biggest of fools (Not me, St. Paul again).

So, either we believe that Jesus is Lord, that he reigns in Heaven, and if we follow His Way seeking to do the Will of the Father, then despite all the damning evidence that demands the just punishment for my sins, in the final act, His saving blood will be the entry price for us to enter into Heaven, because of Him and despite myself.

If we don’t believe this, Jesus is just one of many voices in my head and I haven’t begun to grasp the full enormity of the situation – that my very life hangs in the balance, and He is both scale and judge.

Discipleship = Discipline

I heard this question recently: are we disciples or volunteers? Are we scurrying about with a to-do list that gets a bit much, or is everything we do calculated to build up His kingdom (not mine)? Something to ponder, surely.

Getting back to the question of free will and our final damnation/salvation. What can we do to ensure eternal life that is lived with joyful abandon, where there will be a complete absence of sadness and pain? Is there anything we can do?

I think the answer is in the word “disciple” which implies discipline, which implies obedience. My parish priest spoke eloquently in his homily about the “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5, St. Paul again). Our faith isn’t merely at the intellectual level. Pause to let that sink in. For me, I think I’m guilty of just that. I love the words. But it needs to be more than that. It needs to be a lived experience, the words need to cut between bone and marrow and penetrate into our hearts, the core of our being. It’s only after the Jews were cut open by St. Peter’s famous address, that the first step of conversion began.

Baptism into the One faith

We all have stony hearts that are in desperate need of conversion. But we all have the grace of God poured into our hearts, from baptism. (Aside: If you have not yet been baptized, seek a Catholic church, and begin the RCIA process, there is no greater teacher of the kerygma, and you will be assured of sound catechesis). This grace is our superpower, and it’s indelible, it can never be erased. It assures me that bad as I am, there is also much that is good in me. All too often, we linger only on the bad parts.

But Christ says, “Go, sin no more”. The Father of lies on the other hand is always dragging us down, distracting us from our true self.

Be Prepared

The Gospel for today talks about a disciple that is prepared, that is watching for the master’s return and ready to do His will immediately. So, let’s treat each day as another opportunity to live our lives according to the obedience of our faith and do it a little better than yesterday. For there is always hope for a brighter tomorrow. And the more we align with His way, His teaching, and His church, the faster we will move in the direction that leads to life. Blessed indeed are we if we are vigilant, striving to do His will. For His grace is enough, and by it (and only by it), the victory will be accomplished.

[Readings: Rom 5:12, 15b, 17-19, 20b-21; Lk 12:35-38]

D'Souza Family

The D’Souza family who go by the moniker, Unity Flame, consists of Patrick and Juliet and their three daughters, Naomi, Nicole, and Nadine. Patrick and Juliet spent their formative years in India and have been married 26 years. Being a missionary is at the heart of their family. Patrick and Juliet are members of the Regnum Christi movement, have homeschooled their children, and have been active members of their parish church and small Catholic community. Their daughters have been active participants as in the Challenge girls clubs, which emphasize formation, friendship with Christ, and virtue-driven leadership programs. Naomi and Nadine have each spent a “gap” year between high school and college as missionaries in the Philippines and Atlanta. Contact: Pjdsouza@yahoo.com

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