September 15, 2019

“Beloved:  I am grateful to him who has strengthened me, Christ Jesus our Lord, because he considered me trustworthy in appointing me to the ministry.

I was once a blasphemer and a persecutor and arrogant, but I have been mercifully treated because I acted out of ignorance in my unbelief.”  Paul, in the first letter to Timothy, acknowledges the gratitude we should all hold toward our God in Jesus Christ. As none of us here on earth are perfect nor are we saints without blemish.

But, take heart, we need not be St. Paul, once a blasphemer, a persecutor, a man filled with arrogance, to thank God for being treated mercifully in this life and hereafter. One need not be as derelict or depraved as Moses’ stiff-necked bunch worshiping a molten calf, to appreciate God’s forgiveness. High in grace or sunk in sin, we all know the kind of favor Jesus granted in overflowing measure. “You can depend on this as worthy of full acceptance: that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.”

Each of us, in little and large ways, ought to be thankful for unmerited love and leave the accounting to God.

There is something good in the worst of us and something bad in the best of us, my own father used to say. He too had a point.

Perhaps that is why repentance is always the start of good news. Perhaps that is why our song of God’s glory so aptly follows the confession of our sins.

Glorying in God’s loving forgiveness calls forth a third son or daughter in us. This would be the one who, after a life of bright fidelity, generous sacrifice, and courage in the face of great odds, comes to the heavenly banquet and sees a spectrum of other children there. Some of them have had a far easier time of it on earth. Others seem surprised at being there themselves. A few (many? all?) really didn’t even deserve to be there. To each God says, “Welcome, dear and precious one; all I have is yours.”

Upon being asked whether the rewards are unfair or whether she would have lived her life differently, this third child says, “No. I would do it all over.”

May you live your own life with boldness and integrity and humility, knowing you are precious in the sight of the Lord.

Fr. John



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