Trust in Him

Sunday, June 13, 2010

Justification

I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given Himself up for me.
I do not nullify the grace of God: for if justification comes through the law,
then Christ died for nothing. (Galatians 2)

I am always astonished by the depth and truth of the teachings of Scripture and the Holy Catholic Church. Every time I make a new discovery, it is as if I had never before seen my own faith with open eyes. A recent trend in the Liturgy, which I did not even know existed last year, has given me abundant material with which to make a very important point about our faith, and the judgment. The claim I am about to make on the nature of the Judgment is clear in the title of my point: justification comes to us through the mercy of God.

Until just over a year ago I was under the impression that life's purpose was to earn the love of God. For me, to be good was a means of causing God to love me more. I felt that I, myself, had to be lovable and amiable in order to receive the love of Christ. Had I persisted in this ideology, I would no doubt be despairing now. A friend revealed to me the arrogant, proud, and false thought that lay below this idea: the idea that I could ever be worthy of the love of God. The love God offers, the life He has given me, the mercy and forgiveness He has flourished upon me, are all given in His mercy to an otherwise meaningless wretch.

In the second letter to Galatians, Paul speaks of the mercy of Jesus Christ. He indicates that we never could have saved ourselves by observance of the law, that to think that through our own good actions we are saved from sin is a delusion, and that we must admit Christ as Savior and Redeemer. I was recently reading a small booklet titled "I Wait for You", which was written by a visionary by the name of Josefa Menendez (an extract from "The Way of Divine Love"). While the content of the booklet was extraordinary, I was most touched by one thing: whenever Josefa would apologize for her faults, cry, and kiss the floor in repentance... Jesus would answer her "yes, you are a poor miserable wretch, a sinner. Kiss the floor, you have sinned. You are forgiven by my infinite mercy." While this is not verbatim, it brings to light a truth that often goes unrealized. Oftentimes we flatter ourselves with the belief that Christ singular sacrifice of love is a tool by which we can redeem ourselves, when really His mercy is perpetually necessary and we ourselves have no power to obtain salvation.

Although it is true that we are justified only by the mercy of God, and Christ's sacrifice of love... Jesus tells us that He did not come to abolish the law of the prophets, but to fulfill it. If we did not have faith in Jesus Christ, and if we did not accept the merit of His Sacrifice, we could never be reconciled with God. The law alone could bring us no salvation. God has given us far more than we can repay, therefore He has every right to command without offering reward, but it is His intention to offer a great and eternal reward. However, the sacrifice of Jesus was not to free us of our duty towards God. On the contrary, He so longs to have our willful fidelity that He has made this sacrifice of love that we might be freed of the restraints of guilt. It would be impossible for us to be with Him in love if He had not paid our debt, now that it is possible He longs for us to love Him and become obedient to Him, that we might be His.

Because Christ has fulfilled the law, He has also beautified and elevated it. Rather than giving us laws and commands, as would be given to slaves or creatures, He has called us to be perfect, as God is perfect. Through His constant and undying mercy, His acceptance of our faults and His continuous effort to help us, He gives us the opportunity to be perfect. While God is a God of Justice, a God of commands, and a God of surpassing Majesty desiring order, in the person of Jesus, who has been ordained judge, He is also a God of mercy, compassion, and love. How wonderful that the judge given to us has the supreme bias of a lover for his beloved, a father for a son, a brother for a brother! He takes each of the good things we do and gives it infinite merit, and repays us a hundredfold on earth, and infinitely in heaven. He seeks out all that is good in us and brings it to light, and battles the evils within us that could bring us pain and death, finally abolishing them and freeing us.

To God belongs all glory, laud, and honor... to Him belongs love, obedience, faithfulness, trust, and all good things. But He, in the person of Jesus, has laid aside all claim to His inheritance in order to do what we could not. We were waging war on God through sin, a war that could only end in our annihilation, so He sacrificed His life in order that we might be reconciled. Through His mercy and love alone are we justified, and through His work in our hearts we become perfect, and arrive at the lasting abode of the Trinity.

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