Monday, March 12, 2018


We have a very beautiful Gospel today, from John.  We also have a very interesting reading about how God has dealt in history with His chosen people in our first reading.   Either would provide good material for a homily.  But I am fond of St Paul’s letter to the Ephesians, so I am going to focus on our second reading today.  
          Unfortunately, Paul’s complex thought processes, and our insipid translation, makes it difficult to understand Paul, buried under mounds of dependant clauses.  So I have taken a red pencil to today’s second reading, parsed it down to the essential structure, and this is what I came up with for the first half: “Brothers and sisters; (all of us), God .. brought us to life with Christ ...., raised us up with him, and seated us with him in the heavens in Christ Jesus.”
          That is the core of St. Paul’s message:  God brought us to life, raised us with Christ, seated us with Christ in the heavens, so that God might show his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.  WOW!
          Now does anything strike you as a little ‘odd’ about that statement?  //   It is in the past tense.  St. Paul is talking about something that has already happened.  Not something in the future that we await, but rather a done deal.  
          So, ¿Have you noticed that you have been brought to life, raised up and seated in the heavens? 
          I haven’t!  And yet Paul speaks of this as an already accomplished fact.  He states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith.....”   He does not say, “At the last Judgement, or sometime in the future, you will be saved,” but rather he insists,        
“you have been saved.”  Because God has already made it happen.  Once God decrees it, it is as good as done.
          “And this is not from you;” St. Paul continues.  Not our doing.  “It is the gift of God; it is not from works, so no one may boast.”  
          We can never – by our own efforts - achieve our own salvation.  No matter how good and holy we try to be, no matter how much we fast and pray and go to church, we can never achieve our own salvation.  But that doesn’t matter.  It has already been given to us as a gift!   No strings attached!
          The one thing we most desperately want, the fullness of life, everlasting life, or in shorthand “salvation,” which we can never accomplish on our own, has already been given to us.  It is already accomplished!
          And what do we have to do?  We just have to accept it.  As we heard in today’s Gospel:  For God so loved the world that he gave his only Son, so that everyone who believes in him might not perish but might have eternal life.
For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world,
but that the world might be saved through him.
          All we have to do is accept the salvation God offers, believe in Jesus as the Son of God, and give thanks.  That is what we are gathered here to do.  We celebrate Eucharist, which means thanksgiving.  We profess our faith in Jesus as our Savior, and we give thanks.  Because the heavy lifting and the hard work of securing salvation has already been done.  And it is all gift.

          It is like a song by the Damiens that I heard many years ago when I was a new priest in Alaska:  (sing) “Love that’s freely given wants to freely be received.  All the love you’ve poured on us can hardly be believed.  And all that we can offer you is thanks.  All that we can offer you is thanks.”

          God has already accomplished our salvation in Jesus Christ.  It is a done deal.  And it is pure gift, not our doing but God’s.  For, as St. Paul instructs us, “we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them.”
          And all that we can offer back is thanks, is Eucharist.  
Thanks be to God!

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