Monday, November 9, 2015

Heavenly Work

Friends of Faith:

Honestly I think part (and maybe all) of the problem with our culture today is that we think we deserve something so we don’t do enough work – not physical work (although there is some of that issue too), but spiritual work –heavenly work. Not some repetitive prayer or physical showing of charitable work to “get”  to heaven, but work because we believe there is a heaven, work because we believe in Him; work that is in a stewardship frame of mind – of the giving back to God, our time, our talents and our treasures.

Every time I write the word “work” in one of my reflections I tone it down by changing the word because I know that many Christians of denominations other than the Catholic faith think that Catholics feel like they can “work” their way to heaven.
But I think I am doing us all an injustice in toning down the idea of work because I don’t believe there is a true Christian out there who doesn’t believe and understand that we must not only be something more but that we must DO something more BECAUSE we are Christians.

First off, I agree, no one of any faith (or non faith) can “work” their way to heaven – Catholics don’t believe this – it’s a misconception about our teachings. Only God will judge who will go to heaven and it is God who has given us the freedom to choose or to deny him.
When I say I am “working” on my salvation I don’t mean I am “earning” my way to heaven forWhat good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him?James 2: 14-17)

A Catholic who says they are “working” on salvation – is saying that salvation is not a one-time profession of faith, but rather a continual profession of faith, a process in which we are constantly choosing to accept or to deny the teachings of Christ the Savior (we can just as easily fall out of God’s grace as we can choose to be in his grace)—that is also why we continuously need mercy and forgiveness.
We are taught to pray, fast and to give alms—not just once but all the time (2 Thes 1:11).

And the “Be”attitudes (Mt 5), which I so love, suggest that to be something in Christ we must “do” something in Christ.
And true, faithful Christians of every faith do just that –they do “good work” because they believe in the Gospel message of Matthew 25 to clothe the naked, feed the hungry, shelter the homeless, etc– that’s how the world knows we are Christians. We deny ourselves to help others, to love others, to care for others and to support others –we “work” to imitate Jesus and our work is for our neighbor.

My first work is to pray –to pray for guidance as to what my purpose here on earth is for God, to pray for the knowledge to know how he wants me to show others I am his and to pray for the abilities to do my physical work with honor. I am refreshed in doing this by starting my “work” week by keeping holy the Sabbath in Church. For me, it seems that this is the one place where I can get away from the distractions and duties which seem to steal my time away from the time I want to spend with him. Then when I am “sent” at the end of mass to evangelize for Christ I will be able to charitably help others, to more frequently tell others WHY I am Christian, to stand up for Him and if necessary to not be afraid to rebuke others as to what the Church teaches as right AND wrong.
I need to not be afraid to work for Christ—but to be more like the “good thief” who was converted at his death. “The other, however, rebuking him, said in reply, “Have you no fear of God, for you are subject to the same condemnation?” Lk 23:40

In “working” to share the Gospel message the good thief challenged the other criminal, who conversely reviled Jesus with his “I deserve it” attitude, and so the good thief became Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.” Mt 5:10

Salvation is a process which requires us to work in denying ourselves and in carrying what sometimes can be very heavy crosses. Then Jesus said to his disciples, “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself,* take up his cross, and follow me. For whoever wishes to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for my sake will find it” Mt16:24-25 and as St Paul so bluntly stated: “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.” Phil 2:12
Heavenly Father: I am called to Know You, To Love You and to Serve You. Help me to use the gifts of my time, my talents and my treasures wisely. It is only right that I work, and even suffer, by imitating Your son, Jesus. Help me to enrich my own belief in You and to help others to come to love you as I do. Thank you for making me everything I am. May everything I do be for you. Amen.

Let us not be afraid to work to unite ourselves to Jesus Christ,


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