Psalm 1:1-4, 6
Saint John Paul II, Pope (Optional Memorial)
The gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 6:23)
Have you ever given your child an opportunity to earn money for something she really, really wanted? A shrewd child will keep very careful track of each chore or sacrifice that counts toward this desired goal. When she has finally earned her reward, she will gleefully present her money, declaring, “You owe me this. I’ve earned it!”
We sometimes think of salvation in similar terms. We try very hard to keep from breaking God’s laws, and we hasten to Confession when we realize we’ve failed. We heap up extra prayers and kind deeds in order to balance out any unintentional transgressions. We become anxious when we suspect that our efforts may be falling short. What if our sins outweigh our good deeds?
But this isn’t how God looks at us. He is not a heavenly accountant keeping a detailed ledger of our assets and liabilities. In fact, Scripture tells us that whenever we turn to him in repentance, he casts our sins far away. He forgets them altogether and focuses only on our future. That’s because his primary role isn’t that of a strict, exacting judge. First and foremost, he is a generous, loving Father who delights in giving his children good gifts—including the gift of eternal life!
For a moment, imagine that you have died and are approaching the gate of heaven. You search frantically for your tally sheet so that you can prove that you deserve to be let in. But you seem to have left it behind!
As you are rifling through your pockets, you suddenly hear your name being called. You look up, and there is Jesus, shaking his head in bemusement. His arms are spread wide to welcome you. You hesitate for only a moment; then you run to him. He scoops you up and presses you to his heart.
“Don’t be silly,” he gently chides. “How could you ever earn your way to eternal life? If you could, I wouldn’t have had to die on the cross. I’ve already paid for everything! That’s my gift to you. Come and live in my love.”
“Dear Jesus, thank you for inviting me to live in the freedom of being your beloved child.”~WAU