“You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him– provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, without shifting from the hope promised by the gospel that you heard, which has been proclaimed to every creature under heaven.” From St. Paul’s Epistle to the Colossians. (1:21)
There has been much pain and turmoil in the world in recent years. There have been violent deaths, and there have been sacrifices. People often wonder where God is, in the midst of these tragedies. They say, “If God was truly good he would not have let my husband, or father, or brother, die.” For some, the fragile faith that they have been clinging to is shattered.
They blame God, and turn away from him. Many stop going to church, and many stop believing in a loving Father in heaven. It’s tragic that no one was there to counsel them about their faith, and to show them how God works in this world. He does not wave a magic wand over us.
O, it may seem so, given the wonderful stories we learned as children, but the reality is much different. The fact is that people die because we are fragile human beings. The LORD certainly does not want people to die, and it grieves him mightily. In Psalm 116, we read, “Precious in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” What does that mean? The word ‘precious’ may make you think of something valuable, like a precious stone, or precious gold. The word also means ‘costly.’ So think of it this way, “Costly in the sight of the LORD is the death of his faithful servants.” It is very costly to the LORD because he values life, every life, no matter the circumstances. Where is God during these times of tragedy? The answer is simple really. He is right beside us, grieving the loss of his servants, right along with us. We do not have to go through it alone. He can sympathize with us because he watched his only Son die.
Jesus laid down his life for us, and not just us, but for everyone in this world. That is all whom have have ever lived, are alive now, and whom will ever live. His death is so precious, so costly, that our Heavenly Father does not want us to forget it.
This is why we have a crucifix. It depicts Jesus dead on the cross. It reminds us that the ultimate price he paid for us. That is what we deserve because of our sins, but Jesus took the punishment for us. As long as we continue securely established and steadfast in the faith, as St. Paul instructs us, than Jesus will present us holy and blameless and irreproachable before the Father who will judge our lives.
Someone wearing crucifix told me that some well meaning soul said to him, “You know, Jesus is not on the cross anymore.” My answer to that is that of St. Paul, “we preach Christ and him crucified.” Besides, time and space have no hold on Jesus. He is on the cross, he is resurrected. He is at the right hand of the Father. He is in the most holy Sacrament of the Altar. He is in our hearts. Some people need to expand their understanding of God!
The typical Protestant cannot fathom the idea that Christ can be present in the Holy Sacrament, in our hearts, and in heaven at the same time. Again, our notion of time and space have no relevance to the LORD. Our time is chronological, which means things happen minute by minute, and there is no going backward or beyond forward. That word comes for the Greek word chronos, for sequential time.
God’s time is signified by the Greek work kairos, meaning high time, or the right time for something to happen. In the Gospels, you will the phrase, “In the fullness of time.” God’s time is for his purposes and is not bound by our notions of chronological time. Whenever the Holy Eucharist is celebrated it is kairos, God’s time. It is interesting to note that the Holy Mass is offered at every hour of the day, all 24 of them, somewhere on the earth.
Some of our Protestant brethren hold to a doctrine of the predestination of salvation. The elect will be saved, and the un-elect will not. Others believe that they can point to a certain day, chronologically, that they were saved. In fact, while on vacation recently I was handed two different tracts, one from the Faith Baptist Church, and one from the Truckers Evangelizing America Ministry. Each of them encourage the reader to say a prayer to accept Jesus, and they provide a space to sign and date the tract, under the words, “I was saved today.” Again this is limited thinking as far as time goes.
Salvation is a process that begins when a person first becomes a Christian at Baptism, continues through that person’s life, and is completed when they stand before Christ in judgment. Therefore, according to Catholic apologist James Akin, the faithful Christian can say in faith and hope, “I have been saved; I am being saved; and I will be saved.” This is God’s high time, kairos.
This gift of salvation is free, that is by grace, and we do not have to earn it. In fact, we cannot earn it. St. Paul wrote to the Ephesians, “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God.” There is nothing you can do to earn salvation, or even a higher place of honor in heaven, a fallacy that is believed by some Christians. St Paul wrote, “You who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death.” Notice the word Now. Not sometime in the past or in the future, but Now. He has now reconciled us by dying on the cross. This is God’s high time, kairos.
Because of this we need have no fear of death, if we continue securely established and steadfast in the faith; Securely established through Baptism and Confirmation, and standing strong in the face of temptation. The worst temptation of all is the temptation to reject our Heavenly Father because he has not granted your wish. So many good people have turned their back on the LORD and the faith because they were not steadfast, standing strong, in the faith. They were blown over by a wind of deception, caused by the evil one. Their house of faith was built on sand, and was washed away by the sea. But a house of faith built on the Rock that is Jesus Christ will stand for all time.
All of us will die someday, but mostly we don’t want to think about that. We, too, will be presented to the throne of grace and mercy, justified by faith in our Lord Jesus Christ, if we remain securely established and steadfast in the faith. Do not give up on your faith, brothers and sisters. Remain securely planted, rooted in the bible, being fed by the Holy Sacraments, staying faithful to your vows, and to your church and you, too, will be presented as justified before the throne of God. Amen.