LEARN TO LIVE, LIVE TO LEARN
“To know much and taste nothing-of what use is that?” ―St. Bonaventure of Bagnoregio
1. Evangelicals profess that salvation is gained through accepting Jesus as one's personal Lord and Savior. They assert that salvation is a once-for-all event. Accepting Jesus refers to a discrete event in time during which one submits to Jesus' Lordship, and becomes a Christian. The new Christian recognizes Jesus' single sacrifice as the atonement for sins. This act of faith guarantees them a place in heaven. When a person receives this gift of forgiveness, condemnation for all sins — past, present, and future — rolls right off. They will never have to face the punishment of hell for their sins no matter what they may do for the rest of their lives. That is why evangelicals would usually say “I got saved,” or “I am saved,” or “Have you been saved?”
2. Redemption and salvation are two concepts which many throw around interchangeably nowadays. Although they are related, there is a crucial difference between the two. As Catholics, we can distinguish Jesus' Redemptive work from our acceptance of Salvation:
Redemption (Pagtubos) is the act by which Jesus ransomed us from the slavery of sin by his sacrificial death on the cross. Humanity was held captive or enslaved by sin. By his atoning sacrifice, Christ liberated us from an old life of sin to freedom of a new life in him.
" In Him we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of His grace." - Ephesians 1:7
"For there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all…" - 1 Timothy 2:5-6
"He has delivered us from the power of darkness and translated us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins." - Colossians 1:13-14
Salvation (Pagliligtas) is complete union with the Blessed Trinity. It is a process by which God touches a sinner’s heart and calls him or her to repentance. This lifelong process requires our cooperation; it is our choice whether to receive this grace or reject it. Salvation won't be complete until we have unpacked our luggage in the master bedroom of our celestial condo on a street of gold in the New Jerusalem.
"How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath." - Romans 5:9
"Through it [the gospel] you are also being saved, if you hold fast to the word I preached to you, unless you believed in vain." - 1 Corinthians 15:2
Redemption is absolute while Salvation is conditional. To say that Jesus redeemed the whole mankind is not to conclude that all will be saved. He redeemed the whole world. However, many will reject that saving work or fall from grace.
If we are disobedient, God will "take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city" (Revelation 22:19).
3. Consider this analogy. MV Ibong Adarna, a Filipino oil tanker, was hijacked by pirates and its crew held hostage in the hope of obtaining a ransom payment in return for release of ship, crew and cargo. The company owner negotiates to redeem the crew from the pirates. You could say that they’ve been redeemed in the sense of being rescued and are now being taken to a safe harbor. But they’re not home yet. There's a chilling possibility that they would be attacked by another pirate gang, experience shipwreck or jump overboard. They can’t really speak of being saved until they reach their destination.
Salvation isn’t guaranteed just because of something we’ve done in the past. We continue to have free will, which is part of God’s likeness in us. So we still have the inclination to turn away from God again. If we sin, we can lose our salvation.
4. For Catholics, "accepting Jesus" is not a one time event, but could mean daily conversion of heart where we surrender our lives when our feet hit the floor every morning. The evangelical's "surrender-event" is in itself a good model because daily conversion of the heart has to have a starting point. But we must never let it remain there. We have to re-live the promises to live out fidelity to our baptismal call to holiness. By dying on the cross, Jesus opened the door of heaven for us but we must work out our salvation by following him everyday. And we do this by obeying his teachings. Since conversion is a personal response to the saving work of Jesus Christ one must instead assert, “I PERSONALLY accept Jesus as Lord and Savior."
"If you love me, keep my commands." - John 14:15
"Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
- Philippians 2:12
5. There is no denying that a personal relationship with one’s Lord and savior is the goal of every Christian. I would say Catholics “accept Jesus Christ as our Lord and Savior” every time we receive Him in Holy Communion at Holy Mass. How much more personal can you get than eating someone’s flesh and drinking their blood? Every time we go up to receive communion, we receive the Lord's body, blood, soul and divinity. In John 6: 55-56, Jesus declared, "For my flesh is true food, and my blood is true drink. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood abides in me, and I in him." The Holy Eucharist is the most personal relationship one can have with Jesus in this life. Why would Jesus save someone who didn’t believe him? Is there any life in them when they don’t believe his very words?
6. Catholics do not forget that faith is essential to salvation but not faith alone! Yes, it is good that one has faith in Jesus but the only way we can find our relationship with Jesus Christ is through our relationships with our fellow brothers and sisters in the world. When we, out of faith and love for God, practice Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy in this world, we will enjoy the deep and profound love relationship with Jesus our hearts cry out for.
"Faith without works is dead." - James 2:14-26
"Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see you hungry and feed you, or thirsty and give you something to drink? When did we see you a stranger and invite you in, or needing clothes and clothe you? When did we see you sick or in prison and go to visit you?’ “The King will reply, ‘Truly I tell you, whatever you did for one of the least of these brothers and sisters of mine, you did for me.’" - Matthew 25:31-46
7. So what answer should we give when asked if we have accepted Jesus as personal lord and savior?
"Yes, I have PERSONALLY accepted Christ as Lord and Savior. My submission to him is more than just a one-time event; it is a daily act of love and gratitude for his sacrifice on the Cross. Everyday I make that conscious decision to abide by his commands. My relationship with Jesus is strengthened through the Sacraments especially in the Holy Eucharist where I partake of his body and blood, soul and divinity. I demonstrate my deep and profound love relationship with Jesus by serving him in the poor and the marginalized. And I hope to be with him and the saints in the next life." <enrique.ofs>
Under the rule of Claudius the Cruel, Rome was involved in many wars. The emperor had to maintain a strong army, but was having a difficult time getting soldiers to join his military campaign. He believed that Roman men were unwilling to join the army because of their strong attachment to their wives and families. To get rid of the problem, he banned all marriages and engagements in Rome.
Valentine, Bishop of Interamna (modern Terni, Italy), realizing the injustice of the decree, defied Claudius and continued to perform marriages for young lovers in secret. When his actions were discovered, Valentine, whose name derives from the Latin "valens" which means worthy, strong, or powerful, was was imprisoned, beaten with clubs and stones, and beheaded on the outskirts of Rome on February 14, 270. In prison, Valentine prayed for Julia, the blind daughter of Asterius, his jailer, resulting in her healing, the conversion of the jailer and many others. As his final act, He wrote a farewell note to encourage Julia to stay close to Jesus and to thank her for being his friend. He signed the note: “From your Valentine".
Pope Gelasius decreed his commemoration as martyr two centuries later. Besides engaged couples and happy marriages, Saint Valentine is also the patron saint of beekeepers—charged with ensuring the sweetness of honey and the protection of beekeepers.
Happy Valentines, everyone!
Saint Blaise of Sebaste was a physician and an Armenian bishop. He was venerated as one of the Fourteen Holy Helpers. People turn to him for treatment of objects caught in the throat after he miraculously cured a boy choking to death on a fish bone. He was martyred for the Catholic faith in 316.
If you are a singer, motivational speaker, catechist, teacher, trainer, call center agent, salesman, radio announcer, news caster, barker, etc. who puts great demands on your voice, attend Holy Mass on St. Blaise's feast in your parish today, February 3rd and have your throat blessed!
Through the intercession of Saint Blase, bishop and martyr, may God deliver you from every ailments of the throat and from every other evil. In the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum