Working with lectors it has been my experience that Paul’s epistles are often the most difficult for them to convey his words, so they have the impact he intended when he wrote them. To have the congregation respond by hearing Paul’s words one must get the cadence correct. The rise and fall of his words, the inflection, the rhythm and intonation and more important the spiritual truth he is revealing to us must all be spoken in a way we cannot help but pay attention.
It is my guess that if you question anyone this weekend about the content of today’s second reading they will not be able to tell you anything God wanted you to know through the insights he had given to Paul. So, let us hear his words once again: Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in Christ with every spiritual blessing in the heavens.”
We are encouraged to thank God for the great blessing he has given us through the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. Understand this is exactly what we are doing each and every time we come to mass. We are giving thanks and through everything we do during the liturgy remembering this great gift of God. Why are we giving thanks because as Paul is telling us we have been blessed with every spiritual blessing we could ever desire. What those blessings are is exactly why he was inspired to write this epistle, so we would never doubt what is ours because of God’s love for us and his desire for us to be in his presence.
We need to realize that he chose us to be his before we were formed in our mother’s and he endowed us with holiness and destined us to conform to the image of his son (Rom. 8:29). I encourage you to take the time and read Romans for in it we will find a spiritual truth about who we are and how God will never turn away from us. He offers what we so desperately seek by our adherence to what we believe makes us holy.
We are reminded by Paul that we are sons and daughters standing in righteousness because Jesus Christ restored the glory God imbedded in all humans from the beginning of time. As we begin to understand and accept what we have been so freely given by God we will being to feel his presence in all events of our live. God desires for us to be aware of the spiritual blessings that are ours without any effort other than acknowledge Jesus Christ as savior and embracing the Holy Spirit who will lead us to holiness.
He does this so that each day we can stand before him giving him glory and praise for all he as done for us. We have to respond to his love and his mercy publicly and verbally. The Psalmist tell us what this response looks like when he says, “we are to lift up the cup of salvation and acknowledge him in the presence of the people” (Ps. 116:12-13). This is more than just going to church it is a life response seen in our actions and in our words.
Paul reminds us that forgiveness is ours because Jesus died for our transgressions and if we could ever embrace this absolute spiritual truth then we would open ourselves to feel the blessings he desires to lavish upon us. At the heart of all God has done is being preached by Paul and it is the gospel of salvation. This has been the message of the church from its beginning and it requires us to acknowledge it and begin to live it. It is not beyond our comprehension for Jesus promised us the Holy Spirit would guide us to understand fully this truth. We have been blessed by a loving and merciful God whose only desire is for us to become who we were created to be – sons and daughters who have been given the kingdom.
God made it simple for us; we only must believe why Jesus died. Yet we somehow believe we must do more than just accept that act by Jesus means our sins are forgiven. Paul had that same trouble accepting the meaning of the cross. He had to have an experience of Jesus Christ to come to the point where he is now telling us what he had trouble believing is absolute truth. We too must have an experience, an encounter with the person of Jesus Christ to awaken our hearts to the reality of God’s love for us. There is no other way to the Father except by and through Jesus Christ. No other sacrifice must be made by us except the sacrifice of standing before others and like Paul tell others the true message of the gospel.
Paul tells us we have been chosen by him before we chose to be in his presence. If we are chosen, then let us join the disciples and become fearless members of this Kingdom of God on earth. Let us begin to show our love for God by telling others about his mercy and forgiveness. Let us understand our call and how we are gifted to do something for the good of our faith community and to help those who desperately need to hear the good news of salvation.
Let us begin to read the scriptures before coming to mass and begin to prepare our hearts to not only hear the Word of God spoken to us but to respond to that word. Let us begin to be vocal in expressing our praise and thanksgiving to God who loves us in spite of our sins and our lack of living as members of the Christian community.
Let us embrace the Holy Spirit without which we would not be able to ever live the life God intends for us to live. Paul calls the Holy Spirit the first installment in our inheritance of redemption. I love that concept of the first installment because it means there is more to come.