March 24, 2011

The one thing you can hang onto.

The gospel declares that no matter how dutiful or prayerful we are, we can't save ourselves. What Jesus did was sufficient. To the extent that we are self-made saints like the Pharisees or neutral like Pilate (never making the leap in trust), we let the prostitutes and publicans go first into the kingdom while we, in Flannery O' Connor's unforgettable image, are in the background having our alleged virtue burnt out of us. The hookers and swindlers enter before us because they know they cannot save themselves, that they cannot make themselves presentable or lovable. They risked everything on Jesus and, knowing they didn't have it all together, were not too proud to accept the handout of amazing grace... when we acknowledge that we are paupers at the door of God's mercy, then God can make something beautiful out of us. This is the beatitude "Blessed are those who know they are poor" - To be alive is to be broken. And to be broken is to stand in need of grace.
So then the gospel of grace calls out, Nothing can ever separate you from the love of God made visible in Christ Jesus our Lord. -- You must be convinced of this, trust it, and never forget to remember. Everything else will pass away, but the love of Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever. Faith will become vision, hope will become possession, but the love of Jesus Christ that is stronger than death endures forever.
     In the end, it is the one thing you can hang onto.
From Brennan Manning

 Grace is always greater.