The social condition of man is that we are never ever alone; I can’t even run away from self-consciousness, try as I may. God, whether we acknowledge Him or not, is all around in His eminent presence, even if undetected by our human person. To others this is perpetual delight–that is my person and God–whoohoo being together all the time. Salvation is nothing short of union and communion with God.
I was thinking of a dream I had a few years ago, that could border on heterodoxy so I put it on the shelf, I visited my old friend Luther last night, who has come something of a sore spot in my journey, an antagonist, and he still is. The dream was simple; I saw a linear line with a tension gauge in the middle pulling between two polls. On one end I saw the word Catholic and on the other end my reluctant brother Luther. His tactics and outcomes I think were a miserable failure, so what was it that I was attracted to theologically if not to the man? I am a Catholic through and through, I surrender my heart and intellect to the Catholic Church, and so what was this tension inside me? Protestantism reminds me of Charlton Heston’s wise words in The Planet of the Apes five hundred years removed from the reformation or what I call the revolution, “It’s a mad house, a mad house!”
So I’m trying to make sense of our call to salvation. Everyone knows the story of Luther’s private epiphany, “the just shall live from faith to faith”. So here I think lies the tension. It’s a matter of perspective, that tension gauge is union and communion, where two persons meet, where love is born, the place is Golgotha, its bloody, dirty, where true grit meets a broken heart.
I think Luther got his eyes off himself in His cell, and in faith beheld true grit, even if his outcomes were not so good. Often Catholics are so busy offering it up that they forget that all God really desires is our love. Here is where discernment comes to play, salvation is not alone in God, and we cannot enter into redemption without a response of love. If Christ did it all then He would need no response whatever and all would be saved. But love is not alone, at least the kind that saves. It must be shared between persons. Salvation is like conception where the sperm meets the egg and a flash of light, a soul is born. Salvation is about a relationship of persons, where gift meets gift, without this union and communion salvation is impossible. But all is grace born in a flash of light, by Him the great initiator who paved the way with His own precious blood. For the righteousness of God comes through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe. Christ, my righteousness! Christ, my reward! Christ, my very life! All is Christ, but we fail to see that at this moment pregnant with faith, hope, and love is this broken-hearted sinner’s response. Without this response no salvation would be had. The fullness of love is God’s full redemptive work and man’s radical response, on fire with union and communion, in a word salvation. Come Holy Spirit!
This recalls Colossians 1:24 where St. Paul says, “Now I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake, and in my flesh I am filling up what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ on behalf of his body, which is the church…” How is that, that human persons can participate in the Salvation of others, not just in a mediation role, where we share our knowledge of God and Grace, but in a tangible, real way in which our sufferings joined to Christ can actually, really, purify others! What a glorious mystery!
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