Ephesians 2:8-9 “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast.”
James 2:17 “So you see, faith by itself isn't enough. Unless it produces good deeds, it is dead and useless.”
Pull out your oldest sackcloth! Scrounge up some ashes! It’s time to pull up to the table of fasting and surrender our worldly vices to the Lord! But, why? Why do we do this every year? What is with the Church and her yearly conspiracy with McDonald’s Fillet-O-Fish? You have two answers to choose between:
A.) Christians do this and other good works to earn our way into Heaven (#GloryPoints)
B.) Christians do this and other good works because we love our Creator and strive to become like Him
The correct answer is…. B! You may be thinking, what the heck is the difference? It’s subtle at first. But the difference is everything. To earn our way into Heaven is an all-too-common misunderstanding of our beautiful Faith. Contrary to what many well-intentioned people in our Church think we believe, there is absolutely NOTHING we can do to earn our way into the Pearly Gates. We are totally and completely at the mercy of God’s kindness and love. Only Jesus, the perfect lamb that was slain for our iniquities, can stand in the way of God’s judgement of us. Christ’s sacrifice is the only reason we can get into Heaven.
We can’t save enough widows, clothe enough nudists, or feed enough starving. Hate to break it to you, but you just aren’t that perfect. But Jesus was. And that’s why the cross works. Thanks, Jesus!
So, why do we do anything good at all? What’s the point?
Quite simply, we live to love God so much that our lives are changed from the inside out. This life is meant to be where we learn to fall in love with our God -- who loved us SO MUCH that he gave us free will and when we sucked at using it (think of Adam and Eve) the God of the Universe became a weak little baby and chose to die for you and me out of absolute love (John 3:16, bro). He didn’t give us free will so that we could earn up enough good deeds so that He’ll love us more. No! He gave us free will so that we could experience His love in this life and come to love and need Him in return. He wants our hearts more than he wants our empty actions (I’ll get into this concept more in later posts because it’s SO SO SO vitally important).
As you embark on your lenten journey, let go of feeling like you need to earn His love or your salvation. You are His! You’ve been marked by your baptism as a child of God.
I encourage you to see this lent as a way to discover the “Love Language” of your Heavenly Father. Do the things that make His heart happy :-)
Spend some time with him in adoration
Help out at a local food pantry
Spend time with some forgotten people
Share the love of Christ by controlling that road rage for 40 days (good luck)
Train your tongue to love as Christ loves by speaking only positive and loving things
Figure out how to truly pray unceasingly
Sit in nature and observe His glory daily
Pray that daily Rosary, dude/dudette!
Offer up prayers with each act of love you do for your family (like laundry / dishes)
May the Lord be with you on your quest! And remember, we have been set free to love, brothers and sisters. So love without holding back.
Beir bua agus beannacht,
(Gaelic, old chaps. Means “Take a Victory and Blessing!”)