Be That One Man (or Woman)

Saint-Paul-743Today, St. Paul teaches the Romans the power of grace and life over sin and death through Christ Jesus our Lord. The reading from Romans 5:12-21 follows:

Brothers and sisters:
Through one man sin entered the world, and through sin, death, and thus death came to all men, inasmuch as all sinned.

If by that one person’s transgression the many died, how much more did the grace of God and the gracious gift of the one man Jesus Christ overflow for the many. For if, by the transgression of the one, death came to reign through that one, how much more will those who receive the abundance of grace and the gift of justification come to reign in life through the one Jesus Christ.

In conclusion, just as through one transgression condemnation came upon all, so, through one righteous act acquittal and life came to all. For just as through the disobedience of one man the many were made sinners, so, through the obedience of the one the many will be made righteous. Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more, so that, as sin reigned in death, grace also might reign through justification
for eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Adam and EveSt. Paul is teaching the very important truth that with God, sin, death, disease, pain, hardship, and brokenness will never be the end. God ALWAYS has the last word. God’s grace is more powerful than any sin that we or anyone else might commit. The disobedience and sin of Eve and Adam is undone through the obedience of Mary and Jesus. Yes, ultimately, love prevails. And that’s good news. Jesus is risen, and we are a risen people!

Sinful WomanI think the take-away lesson that’s so important for us, is first and foremost, through Jesus Christ, in spite of our weakness and sin, we can all experience salvation through God’s amazing grace. As St. Paul says, “Where sin increased, grace overflowed all the more.” Yes, we have been justified (made right with God) not because of what we have done, but because of what He has done! Celebrate your new life though Christ Jesus and give thanks always for the goodness and generosity of God.

Secondly, live in the truth of your new lease on life. I was just doing a retreat in Fresno with a good girl helpingman named, Francis Ruiz. He shared with me that not once but twice, he was as good as dead, but miraculously, God protected him and preserved his life. He was thrown from a motorcycle at 75mph and by all rights should never have lived…and yet there he was. His experience helped him to realize that no moment on this earth can be wasted. God has a plan for him. He doesn’t know what it is, but there’s no time to waste. He has dedicated and rededicated his life to the Lord. Like Francis, each of us needs to be honest about our new life, and serve the one who set us free–namely, Jesus, by serving our neighbor.

helping homelessFinally, we need to be more like Jesus. I’ve heard that imitation is the greatest form of flattery. It always brings me joy as a teacher when by the end of the school year, my students have mastered by words and actions, and they all run around acting like Mr. Valgos. I have entered their heart through my love and care for them, and they flatter me by doing what I do, and saying what I say. So too must it be with those who follow Jesus. If we have new life through him, we must live in response to that new life by giving life to others with our words and deeds. The true indication that the love of God through Christ Jesus is in us, is the degree to which we love, forgive, show mercy to, and have compassion for others. Be like Him, love like Him, speak like Him, and act like Him. He won’t mind–in fact, He’ll be overwhelmed with joy!

Christians do not love out of fear of punishment or a desire for reward. We love because we can. We have been set free by Jesus (who loved us in spite of our sin) to love others who often don’t deserve it any more than we do. This is how all will come to know that we are His disciples, if we have love for one another. (John 13:35). We can quite easily teach the truth that is contained is St. Paul’s teaching today by being willing to love and bring light to a world in darkness and sin. Love, forgive, and show someone close to you mercy today…because you can, and be that one man (or woman) that brings life to the world through Christ Jesus the Lord.

candle light

Who Do YOU say that He is?

Once when Jesus was praying in solitude,and the disciples were with him, he asked them, “Who do the crowds say that I am?” They said in reply, “John the Baptist; others, Elijah; still others, ‘One of the ancient prophets has arisen.’” Then he said to them, “But who do you say that I am?” Peter said in reply, “The Messiah of God.” Luke 9:18-20

Jesus asked them then who others claimed that he was. Answering that question is easy! All they had to do was relay with their mouth what they had heard with their ears! But then Jesus asks a much more difficult question that demands looking deep into their heart–“Who do YOU say that I am?”

The answer to that question requires a much deeper commitment on the part of the disciples because that answer demands an appropriate and commensurate response. If Jesus is anyone but the Son of God–so what. But for the one that acknowledges Jesus as God’s Messiah, that one must make Jesus King of their life and King of their heart. Everything must change.

Of course each of us too must answer that question today. Who OTHERS say that Jesus is runs the gamut and is largely irrelevant to us. But our answer to that question means everything!

Do you acknowledge Jesus as Messiah and Lord, as did Peter? Would anyone around you even know it? I know I’ve got work to do–join me in proclaiming Jesus as Lord and then pray for amazing transformation. I’ll be praying for you!

Let Your Light Shine!

Luke 8:16-17
Jesus said to the crowd: “No one who lights a lamp conceals it with a vessel
or sets it under a bed; rather, he places it on a lamp stand so that those who enter may see the light. For there is nothing hidden that will not become visible, and nothing secret that will not be known and come to light.–Luke 8:16-17

When I read these words about a lamp on a lamp stand I’m always reminded of when I go camping! Anyone who has been in pitch darkness with a lantern knows exactly what Jesus is talking about. No electricity, no flashlights, nor overhead lightbulbs! When in darkness, if you want to see, you’d better light your lamp and raise it high!

And let’s be honest while we’re at it as well, all of us are a little afraid of the dark! Maybe not like my 5-year old, but there’s something deep down in us that knows there is a much greater chance of danger, of pain, suffering, anxiety, fear, sadness, and loneliness when it’s dark. With light comes warmth, security, peace, and joy. Jesus is the light of the world, and we who are united to him share in His light so greatly that we might own the title “a child of light.”

And these are Jesus’ instructions for us today. Be what you are, a child of the light in a world of darkness. Christians bring love, life, energy, truth, goodness, and peace wherever they go! Let us never hide our light–not even for a moment! There is a world in need Jesus’ light and we are commissioned to bring it! What an honor, what a privilege, what a challenge! Raise your lamp high for all to see–we still live in a world of darkness. I’ll be praying for you!