Monday, May 13, 2013

The Free Gift of Faith

"The hour is coming and has arrived when each of you will be scattered to his own home and you will leave me alone." Jn 16:32

Most of us appreciate explanations of complex matters that we can understand. I am especially grateful to a few friends who are scientists but have the ability to speak about science in a way that non scientists like me can understand. They open up the world of nature and allow us to enter it with even more awe about "what God has done."

Nevertheless, Jesus knows that his disciples, who are seeking deeper insight about who he is and what he is doing, actually don't understand his message even though he speaks to them in story and image about the glory of God. Perhaps, like most of us, the disciples don't really want to understand for fear they will have to change. When Jesus tells them they will have to carry their cross and suffer for the sake of God's reign, they usually interpret his message in military and political terms, and are more than willing to do their part to vanquish the Romans and reclaim all of Palestine for God. That this is not Jesus' message is something they either resist or deny. So do we.

We can win physical battles for a good cause. We admire soldiers who enter the military to defend our country and its values, but when Jesus tells us that our suffering will come not because we are winning or losing military battles but because we must tell the world that a life dedicated to worldly success, the acquisition of the property and wealth is temporary and ultimately empty. Who wants to suffer to preserve the dignity of all people, to work for justice and to give voice to the voiceless unless their is a physical reward?  We want to earn our salvation and thus take credit for all our good and hard work.

The Good News, however, assures us that we cannot win salvation. Rather, we must learn that God wants to be with us, to accompany us and to live with us forever. More important, salvation is a free gift which we must announce. We don't earn it, but glory in wonder  that God can love us so much.

Today, listen for God's word and embrace it.

What dimension of the Gospel is most difficult for you to understand and accept?

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