This reflection was taken from the Sunday Mass Readings of Mar. 16, 2014:
In today’s second reading, St. Paul says “Bear your share of hardship for the gospel with the strength that comes from God.” The gospel can be hard to bear, between attacks on our faith from the outside and the willful desire to sin from within. On our own, we don’t have the strength to carry such a burden; because, if we really were on our own–separate entirely from God–then we wouldn’t exist at all, and therefore would have absolutely no strength. We should never forget (which can be easy to do) that it is only through God that we can acquire the holiness necessary to stick by His Gospel.
St. Paul continues, “He saved us and called us to a holy life, not according to our works but according to his own design, and the grace bestowed on us in Christ Jesus before time began.” Jesus gives us what is necessary for us to be holy; but He also gives us free will as to whether or not we will answer His call.
As I said, we could not exist at all if the Lord did not will it; yet we sin against Him every day. It almost seems strange that He does will our existence. What does He gain out of it, with us being nothing more than sinners? Nothing. Actually, He wouldn’t gain anything out of it even if we all followed His will perfectly.
The idea that Jesus would be better off had He not created us makes sense from our perspective; but as the Lord said to Peter (when Peter rebuked Him for His teaching on the Passion), “You are thinking not as God does, but as human beings do.” In His creation of us–like in His Passion–Jesus was being totally selfless. He had no intention or thought to benefit Himself with it; rather, He did it because of His abounding and infinite love for us, so that we might have the joys of living and worshiping Him.
Jesus loves us more powerfully than we can imagine, and is more than willing to forgive us of our transgressions. If we repent, He will absolve us. Can any of us imagine a sense of love that strong?
We are called to be brothers and sisters in Christ, and of Christ; we are called to love as He loves, and forgive as He forgives. To be holy as He is holy. The narrow path by which we must follow Him can be hard, yes; but if we follow it, we will become closer to our Lord, and an inner peace will be given to us. And when we reach the end of that path, we will receive eternal peace.
Forgive us our trespasses, as we forgive those who trespass against us.
by Cameron Daly