Wednesday, December 06, 2023

One Day Saint

 Martin Luther was convinced that humans will always continue to live in a cycle of sinning and regretting their sins all the days of their lives. He became not convinced of the Church teachings of forgiveness and reconciliation through the Sacrament of Confession. He declared his sainthood, or salvation, by distancing himself from the culpability of his thoughts and actions, and rather covering himself with the blanket of the grace of Christ. He accepted his fate as a sinner but considered it irrelevant to his salvation since he lives covered by the grace of God.

The Apostolic Church and her Saints have never interpreted the Gospel of Jesus Christ and his gift of salvation through a grace independent of the human response of carrying one's cross daily working toward salvation with fear and trembling. (See Philippians 2:12) 

I thought to myself that I want to be Holy for God but how can I be Holy? Luther offers an easy way out but it is not in accordance with Biblical nor Apostolic teachings, nor does it give enough credit to Christ’s ability to transform me to his likeness in this lifetime. It only promises a true transformation or sanctification in a life to come after death. It misinterprets or ignores Christ's commandment in Matthew 5:48  “You, therefore, must be perfect, as your heavenly Father is perfect” also repeated by St. Peter the Apostle  in 1 Peter 1:15 “But as he who called you is Holy, be holy yourselves in all your conduct”. We are called to perfection and holiness in our conduct as our Father in Heaven is perfect and Holy. 

I also thought of the words of St. Paul the Apostle in Romans 12:1-2: “I appeal to you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may prove what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.” These are not empty commandments, they are expecting a true transformation. 

Hence following these Apostolic and Biblical teachings it is not enough for me to be declared Holy standing in the shadow of Christ without being truly Holy in my whole being. I must seek instead a complete inside-outside transforming grace unifying me to Christ, making me more like him, making me one with him, transforming me from within. I must also have faith that, with God’s grace, such a transformation is achievable in this lifetime, for Christ assures us in Matthew 19:26 “With men this is impossible, but with God all things are possible”.

Still the task is overwhelming to me despite the abundance of grace. The Saints whom I love, and whom I try to follow their examples have endured resiliently many difficult obstacles that I cannot imagine myself doing. The devil adds to my anxiety by whispering to me “ You are not strong enough. You may resist sin today but you will eventually fall. You are a sinner and you will always be. Accept your fate. You are nothing like them. Here, see your past life, it  speaks for itself...”    

As weak as I am, it is true that being Holy, or being a Saint is overwhelming and overachieving to me, I don’t have enough faith nor do I love God enough yet to accomplish this task or state of being. However, reflecting on the Lord’s prayer, I saw that Jesus taught us to pray for our “daily bread” and focus on our needs for the day. Therefore I concluded that with the grace of God all I have to do is be Holy or a saint for today, a one day task, much more doable to my weak self. 

I will ask for the grace to be Holy today and not be anxious about tomorrow at all, nor be concerned with the past. I will ask God for “our daily grace” to conquer sin today, be pleasing to Him today, and follow his commandments today. Besides the Lord’s prayer I am also reminded of Christ’s words in Matthew 6:34: “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day’s own trouble be sufficient for the day.”  

When the Devil of pride, greed, wrath, envy, lust, gluttony, and sloth shows up on the doorstep of my soul, he will see that I, today, belong totally to Christ. He will then remind me of my past and threaten me that he will come back tomorrow. But he is of no concern to me, since my God is “I Am who I Am” (Exodus 3:14) not “I was who I was” nor “I will be who I will be”. I live today in God’s hand and “no one is able to snatch them [me] out of the Father’s hand". (John 10:29).

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