Wednesday, November 7, 2018

He who created us without our help will not save us without our consent.

Three things are necessary for the salvation of man: to know what he ought to believe; to know what he ought to desire; and to know what he ought to do.  – Saint Thomas Aquinas: (1225 –1274: was an Italian Dominican friar, Catholic priest, and Doctor of the Church)

Scripture Text: (PHIL 2:12-18)
My beloved, obedient as you have always been,
not only when I am present but all the more now when I am absent,
work out your salvation with fear and trembling.
For God is the one who, for his good purpose,
works in you both to desire and to work.
Do everything without grumbling or questioning,
that you may be blameless and innocent,
children of God without blemish
in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation,
among whom you shine like lights in the world,
as you hold on to the word of life,
so that my boast for the day of Christ may be
that I did not run in vain or labor in vain.
But, even if I am poured out as a libation
upon the sacrificial service of your faith,
I rejoice and share my joy with all of you.
In the same way you also should rejoice and share your joy with me.

St. Paul states in the first reading from Mass today: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” This command speaks clearly of the centrality of human effort in the spiritual life. Salvation is not a “done deal” at one’s baptism. Salvation is assured only to the Christian who perseveres in God’s love to the very end of her earthly life. Unfortunately, there are some who have only considered this truth in isolation, claiming that salvation comes through human effort, to the exclusion of God’s help.

On the other hand, St. Paul preaches clearly about God’s centrality in the spiritual life. “God is the one who... works in you both to desire and to work.” There are, unfortunately, those who have exaggerated God’s role in the spiritual life, claiming that man cannot contribute anything good to his own salvation. When we listen with both ears, however, God reveals to us that the spiritual life is a drama: God is in the lead role, but asks us to follow Him in the acts that lead to Heaven.

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