September 5, 2013
The most fundamental reality that should lead to our continuing transformation is that God loves us so much that He saved us through the sacrifice of His own Son Jesus. “He delivered us from the power of darkness and transferred us to the kingdom of his beloved Son, in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.” (Col 1:13-14).
This is the basic astounding reality. We were dead to sin and now we are alive in Christ. We were lost and now are found. We were destined for hell but now are going to heaven. For this reason, we should respond by turning our whole lives to Jesus and starting to live in him and for him. He already purchased us at the cost of his precious blood. We are his slaves, though he has made us his friends.
How should our response manifest itself in concrete terms?
One, we must have the posture of gratitude and joy. We live our lives “with joy” (Col 1:11d) for this indescribable gift. We should always be “giving thanks to the Father, who has made (us) fit to share in the inheritance of the holy ones in light” (Col 1:12). Whatever is happening in our lives, whatever difficulties we face, whatever disappointments we meet, whatever suffering we endure, we have already been saved. We are destined for heaven. That is why we have gratitude and joy. No one and no circumstance should be able to take these away from us.
Two, though we are destined for heaven, we are still pilgrims in this valley of tears. We are not yet in heaven, and we still live in an evil world that tries to bring us down. And though we have been saved, we can still be lost, if we stop clinging to God. Thus we need to have “all endurance and patience” (Col 1:11c). Besides, God uses suffering and adversity to purify us, to bring us closer to Him, to strengthen us, to keep us fully aware of our nothingness without Him, to keep us from being swallowed up by the secular pleasures of life. God allows problems and pain not because of His lack of care for us, but precisely because He loves us and wants what is best for us. If we are well secure in God’s love for us, then we endure patiently.
Three, in gratitude to God and knowing we are destined for heaven, we are to “live in a manner worthy of the Lord, so as to be fully pleasing” (Col 1:10a). We have been given the privilege to live Christ. We are called to be saints. We are being prepared to live with God forever in heaven. By the grace of God and the power of the Spirit, we are to rid ourselves of every stain.
This entails two things, that would make us worthy of and pleasing to Jesus. First, we should continue to be “growing in the knowledge of God” (Col 1:10c). We start as babies in Christ and through our earthly lifetime we grow to be saints. We need to pray and read the Bible. We need to grow in spiritual knowledge, drawing on the collective wisdom and experience of the Church and her saints before us. Second, we need to serve. We need to be engaged “in every good work bearing fruit” (Col 1:10b). We evangelize, we serve the poor, we work for justice, we help build up our Church. These two things that make us worthy and pleasing to Jesus are about the internal and the external, about our growth as Christians and our service as Christians, about witnessing through both personal sanctification and the proclamation of the gospel through good works.
How is all this possible? We know ourselves. We are weak and sinful. We sometimes persist in living our lives in opposition to God. Even when we are not into active sin, we live for ourselves and do not reach out to others beyond our own circles. Even when we strive, we often stumble and fall.
Well, what is important is that we are grateful and joyful, that we patiently endure, and that we strive to live for Christ. This is our part. When we live in this way, God provides what we need. We will be “strengthened with every power, in accord with his glorious might” (Col 1:11a). We cannot succeed apart from the power and might of God. But this is precisely the good news, that we do not have to reach heaven just on our own. God wants us there, and God will provide what we need to get there. We just have to do our part.
May you see with spiritual eyes. May your minds be filled with God’s wisdom. May your hearts be touched by His great love. We continue our journey together, and I “do not cease praying for you and asking that you may be filled with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9).
* * *
P.S. We are an evangelistic and missionary community. We are called to live our lives according to our charism. Today’s gospel (Luke 5:1-11) is about the call of Simon the fisherman. We too are so called, to be fishers of men. I encourage you to read (or re-read) my very first book, Fishers of Men. I pray that this book can help you live a life pleasing to God, and thus help bring you to heaven. God bless you all.