|JESUS MY SAVIOR|
|Mother M. Angelica
is never the will of your Father in heaven that one of these little ones should
be lost." (Matt. 18:14)
God's Will is that we are all saved—that we imitate Jesus in our daily lives—that we accomplish His holy and perfect Will—that we see His Providence in the present moment—and that we love our neighbor in the way He loves him. When we prefer our will to His we sin or weaken our will.
By His life, death and resurrection Jesus merited the indwelling of the Spirit and through the grace of His Spirit, we are able to rise above our own will and desires and live in His Will, His peace and His love.
We have then two aspects of Salvation—God's and ours.
a. The Father wills that we are saved.
b. Jesus merited salvation by shedding His Precious Blood.
c. The Spirit fills our souls with grace—gifts and fruits in order to sanctify us.
a. We must want to be saved and use this desire by doing the Father's Will.
b. We must utilize the fruits of Redemption by sorrow for sin, reception of the Eucharist, Baptism, Confession, Confirmation and the other sacraments as our state in life requires.
c. We must be faithful to the Church, grow in Faith, Hope and Love, change our lives and make Jesus known as Lord by living saintly lives.
The Trinity desires each one of us to be saved, but unless we accept that salvation by humble repentance and loving adherence to His Will, we cannot obtain salvation.
The unforgivable sin that Jesus spoke of is the refusal to admit one's guilt before God. God cannot forgive a sinner who does not acknowledge his sin. There exists two opposite wills—God requires repentance so He may forgive, while the sinner refuses to admit anything to be forgiven. There is created a spiritual impasse that can end in the soul's eternal rejection of God.
There are many who believe that the acceptance of Jesus as Savior is sufficient to be saved, but Jesus assures us that this is not so. "It is not those who say to me, 'Lord, Lord,' who will enter the Kingdom of Heaven, but the person who does the will of My Father in heaven." (Matt. 7:21,22) Here we find a condition attached to salvation and that condition is that we do the Father's Will.
We must be found secure in that Will when we are called, for Jesus reminds us that "the man who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matt. 10:22) We are not to be presumptuous in regard to salvation. We cannot put off a change of life for tomorrow or old age, for there may be no tomorrow. Jesus died for our sins, but that death did not give us license to commit sin. His death merited the indwelling of His own Spirit into our souls. This indwelling makes us Temples of God. We carry His Divine Presence within us everywhere we go. St. Paul told the Corinthians, "Examine yourselves to make sure you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you acknowledge that Jesus Christ is really in you? If not, you have failed the test." (2 Cor. 13:5)
Sin defiles the Temple of our souls—it makes it a "den of thieves." To continue a life of sin while one confesses Jesus is Lord, is hypocrisy, for Jesus is not Lord of the Temple from whose portal comes evil— this is blasphemy.
God's grace is at its best in weakness, so we need never fear our weakness. In fact, these weaknesses will determine in what way we shall glorify God for all eternity. As we overcome those qualities and traits in our souls that are not Christ-like, we acquire more of the likeness of Jesus. This is the process of holiness—constant growth through quick, humble repentance. The true Christian has a moral certainty that God's mercy will always be extended to him. He realizes that God is his Father and that loving Father will do everything possible to assure a place for His son in His Kingdom. The uncertain aspect of salvation is not on the part of God, but on the part of the creature.
We are to have an unfailing hope in the mercy of God in our regard and a humble attitude of heart that is prudently cautious of ourselves. Self-knowledge makes us realize it is necessary to be vigilant and St. Peter warns us, "Be calm but vigilant, because your enemy the devil is prowling round like a roaring lion, looking for someone to eat." (I Peter 5:8)
Peter knew from experience that even after confessing with his lips that Jesus was the Son of God, even after being with Jesus, even after having been given the Keys of the Kingdom, it was possible to fall deeply. Except for his loving and repentant heart, Peter might have ended like Judas. Throughout the Scriptures we see a holy, prudent caution—coupled with a confident trust in God as merciful Father. God and the soul cooperate together and become united in heart and mind.
To believe one may continue living a sinful life and still be saved by a semblance of lip service is deception. Jesus warned us when He said, "Many false prophets will arise; they will deceive many but the man who stands firm to the end will be saved." (Matt.24:13,14) Here we find the necessity of not succumbing to the false prophets of our day and the promise of salvation at the end of life.
The word salvation means "to be saved from, to be delivered from." This is what Jesus merited for us by His death and resurrection. The power of His Spirit endowed us with grace to withstand the onslaughts of the enemy, rise above our worldly desires and overcome our weaknesses. Jesus reconciled us with the Father. We are a forgiven people—a people who belong to their God on a father-son relationship. His home is our home—His love is our love —His mercy is our mercy. Everything He is by nature, He gives us by grace. This raises us far above anything we had before redemption for now we are heirs to the Kingdom—sons of God—children of the Father.
All of this is salvation here and now. It culminates in our entering the Kingdom to be forever happy with the Trinity. Salvation is a growth experience—a constant changing of attitudes, ideas, goals and desires—an awareness of the invisible realities—a life of Faith in His Promises, Hope in His grace and Love of our neighbor.
Salvation is not a ticket to heaven that is used at death. A soul cannot go his way, living a life away from God—alienated from His Spirit, and then suddenly be caught up into the Arms of God because of a belief that bore no fruit. Death-bed conversions are possible, but it is presumptuous to put off living a Christian life until then.
Every moment of life is important and we see Paul using every occasion to increase grace and assure his salvation. On one occasion he was told of some who were preaching the Good News with selfish motives. Paul answered this complaint with humble patience. His answer was that he was happy to hear Christ proclaimed no matter what the motive "because I know this will help to save me, thanks to your prayers and to the help which will be given to me by the Spirit." (Phil. 1:18,19) To Paul, salvation was a change of life and that change continued and grew out of every minute of his life.
The need to persevere in our quest for salvation was brought out very clearly by Jesus. He explained the condition of a man who was delivered from an unclean spirit. His soul was in a state of grace. However, the evil spirit, who had once inhabited that soul, sought out other spirits more evil than himself and once more took up his abode. Presumption, complacency and negligence had opened the door "so that the man ended up by being worse than he was before." (Luke 11:24,26) Similarly in the parable of the seed, Jesus brings out clearly how some hear the word and accept it with joy—salvation has entered their hearts. But trials, persecution, money, riches and worries choke that word and they fall away. (Matt. 13:18, 23)
Over and over again Jesus repeats the admonition to persevere to the end—to that moment when He calls and at which time we will see the fruit we have borne. "You and I," Paul told the Hebrews, "are not the sort of people who draw back and are lost, we are the sort who keep faithful until our souls are saved." (Heb. 10:39)
St. John told his followers one day, "our love is not to be just words or mere talk, but something real and active; only by this can we be certain that we are children of truth because we keep His commandments and live the kind of life that He wants." (1 Jn. 3:18, 22)
Those who have accepted the salvation Jesus merited for them should possess freedom, not from temptation, but from the tyranny of the world, the flesh and the devil. It is grace that gives us the courage and strength to consistently fight against these three enemies of the soul. As we grow in this freedom we take on more and more of Jesus. We are light in the darkness for others to see by—we are cities on top of the mountain, beckoning the people of God to rise to greater heights.
Faith enables us to see God in everything and everyone. Hope enables us to see God bringing good out of everything and Love enables us to respond to the virtue of the Moment with joy. This is salvation at work—working and growing until it enjoys the perfect freedom of the sons of God in His Kingdom. It is ever active, and seeking ways of becoming stronger for salvation is a way of life.
Salvation brings the soul a deep awareness of God's love. Life takes on more meaning for it now has a purpose. Trials and crosses are no longer mysteries but caresses from the Crucified Lord. Worldly ambition is changed to a thirst and hunger for holiness. Riches are neither desired nor abhorred for neither poverty embitters, nor riches distract the soul from its only love.
Like Paul, the soul is always aware that it is merely "an earthenware jar" but the Blood of Jesus has given it a "power that comes from God alone." (2 Cor. 3:7-11) When a man of the world looks at those who have experienced the freedom of salvation, he sees Christians who often have "difficulties on every side but are never cornered; they see no answer to their problems but never despair; they are persecuted but never deserted; knocked down but never killed." Yes they "carry in their body the death of Jesus so the life of Jesus may be seen in their body."
There was no doubt that Paul took salvation seriously and as an everyday encounter. "Indeed, while we are still alive, we are consigned to our death every day, for the sake of Jesus, so that in our mortal flesh the life of Jesus may be openly shown."
The Christians of our time are to prove to the world that they belong to God—God is their Father. They prove this by "fortitude in times of suffering, in times of hardship and distress; by purity, knowledge, patience, kindness and a spirit of holiness." They are truly free for they are ready "for honour or disgrace, blame or praise," success or failure, riches or poverty, health or sickness.
St. Peter tells us that our hope in His promises are sure and we should not be surprised if our faith is tested as in a fire. (1 Peter 1:3-9) "You are sure," he says, "of the end to which your faith looks forward, that is, the salvation of your souls." And yet, in Peter as in Paul we find a holy caution. "If anyone, he says, "who has escaped the pollution of the world once by coming to know Our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ, and who then allows himself to be entangled by it a second time and mastered, will end up in a worse state then he began in." (2 Peter 2:20-22) We realize that Salvation, which is an active participation in the grace of the Spirit in our daily lives, is a gift from God. He gives us a share in His Divine Nature as a free gift and yet, He expects us to use another gift—free will—and deliberately choose to follow Him, love Him and prefer Him to ourselves. He desires to forgive us but He must hear our repentance and see our efforts to change.
St. John puts down certain conditions that are necessary on our part. (1 Jn.)
First: Break with sin. (Ch. 1 & 3)
This may give the impression that the soul does it all, but St. John solves our dilemma by telling us that if we acknowledge our sins, God will forgive us because Jesus is the sacrifice that takes our sins away. He tells us that "we can be sure we are in God only when we live the same kind of life as Christ lived." He assured us that "nothing the world has to offer—the sensual body—the lustful eye or pride in possessions could ever come from God but only from the world."
To John, the discerning of false prophets was an easy matter. He promised that the Spirit of Jesus in us would make us recognize false prophets for "the world listens to them, but we are children of God and those who know God listen to us; those who are not of God refuse to listen." (1 Jn. 4:6)
Does this mean only Christians will be saved—will enter His Kingdom? No, Holy Mother Church has always taught that all men are given enough light to enter the Kingdom, but they enter there through the Blood of Jesus—they belong to the soul of the Church and at death God will judge them according to the light they possessed. We shall not all be judged by the same standards, for Jesus assures us "The servant who knows what his master wants but has not even started to carry out those wishes, will receive very many strokes of the lash. The one who did not know, but deserves to be beaten for what he has done, will receive fewer strokes. When a man has had a great deal given him, a great deal will be demanded of him; when a man has had a great deal given him on trust, even more will be expected of him." (Luke 12:47,48) Here are four definite degrees of light given by God to his children and each is required to produce accordingly. The person who knew God and did nothing about it, the one who did not know God, the one given much light, and the priest or minister who was given more than he needed for himself in order to share it with others. Each will be judged according to the light received and how he used it.
Jesus not only told us we would all be judged differently, He also gave us some definite conditions for entering the Kingdom. Each of the following conditions were proclaimed in a Solemn manner so we would be aware of the importance of what He said.
"I tell you solemnly unless a man is born from above unless he is born through water and the Spirit he cannot enter the Kingdom." (Jn. 3:35)
"I tell you solemnly, if you do not eat the Flesh of the Son of Man and drink His Blood you will not have life in you." (Jn. 6:53)
"I tell you solemnly, unless you change and become like little children you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven." (Matt. 18:3)
These solemn proclamations show us the necessity of a constant growth in the spiritual life. God Himself effects this growth with His grace and Presence through the Sacraments, Commandments, Scripture, and good works. This change that our neighbor perceives in our daily lives, manifests our Faith, Hope and Love. We need not speak of salvation for it is apparent to everyone that we have been saved from the tyranny of the Enemy and, as such, enjoy the freedom of the Sons of God, for our lives portray the Love and virtues of Jesus.
"It is to the glory of My Father that you should bear fruit and then you will be my disciples." (Jn. 15:8) This is salvation in action—this separates the children of Light from the children of darkness—this is reaping the fruit of Redemption.
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