Lent 2 Romans 4:13 – end Mark 8:30 – end
The order the Scriptures are read at Mass isn’t always helpful. The Epistles in theory are written AFTER the events which are described in the Gospels. Of course we all know that they were written the other way round, the epistles first.
So this morning we hear St Paul’s reaction to the events the Gospel describes BEFORE they are narrated.
St Paul and Jesus were such totally different people. Jesus had a simple Biblical education, St Paul was a real scholar.
So Jesus speaks directly, as a man of action, so often by means of brilliant and vivid stories, his object to make a point, not lay down the law as it should be applied on all occasions. There was no gate in Jerusalem called the Eye of the Needle any more than there were camels who tried to get through it.
Paul tells how all important FAITH itself is. How else could Abraham really believe that he would be a FATHER – WHEN HE WAS ALREADY about ONE HUNDRED years old, and Sarah much the same ?
HOW COULD THEY POSSIBLY HAVE CHILDREN ?
Humanly speaking it was absolutely impossible.
BUT, GOD SAID THEY WOULD HAVE CHILDREN. Abraham believed, THE CHILDREN ARRIVED.
WE HAVE TO BELIEVE ALL THIS,
AND SIMILARLY WE HAVE TO BELIEVE THAT THE LORD WHO RAISED JESUS FROM THE DEAD, WILL ALSO FORGIVE US OUR SINS. AND RAISE US UP, AFTER WE HAVE DIED,
THE IMPORTANT THING IS NOT OUR SINS, BUT GOD’S FORGIVENESS..
St Mark tells us that as JESUS’ own death approached, He told the crowd as well as his own disciples that they too will be killed because of their faith in him, because they believe he really IS the Son of Man,
Those who are threatened with losing their own lives because of their faith in Him
and are frightened by the threats
will in fact NOT win their lives when He comes again in the glory of the Father with all his holy angels.
But those who lose their lives because of their faith in Jesus, will be raised from the dead, whatever sinners they were in this life.
Our difficulty is because some of us live such well regulated religious lives, we can’t see how we’re not going straight to heaven when we die, surrounded by other holy people and the holy sacraments which are usually given to the dying.
The answer is that intermediate stage described so brilliantly by C.S. LEWIS in The Great Divorce. 1948. After death people arrive by bus in spacious gardens, where they have time to sort their lives out, and are shown what they haven’t done in the way of seeing their own sinfulness, and are given another chance of repentance.
Those who take it, move on to join in the glory of God. For those who refuse to see their own sinfulness, that’s it, the end.
Fr Antony CR