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The Eighth Sunday of Ordinary Time, Year A

Gospel, First Reading & Psalm


Second Reading


***Subscribe or Login for Full Access.***

GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So let's look at the Gospel reading today, which is from Matthew6:24-34, and then we will try to unpack it and ask some questions about it. This is how the Gospel reads:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'

For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

So that is the end of the Gospel. What I want to do with this Gospel is to just break down a few of the key points here. Obviously Jesus is hitting on a major theme here of trust in divine providence, trusting in God's care — his care for his precious children. He's already given us the image in the Sermon on the Mount of God as our Father, so now he's trying to draw out the implications of that reality — to how we live our daily lives, and in particular, to what we do in our concern for the cares of the world: food, clothing, money and the future. These are the things that almost every human being, indeed every human being, has to think about and often finds oneself anxious about: money, food, drink, clothing and the future.

So what does Jesus have to tell us about this? Let’s walk through the Gospel point by point. Number one. He begins first and foremost by giving us this very stark image of “no one being able to serve two masters.” The Greek language here is a little stronger than our English puts it. So when Jesus says “no one can serve two masters,” the Greek word there is douleu, which literally means to be a slave to; and the Greek word for master, kyrios, literally means lord. It is the same word you will find elsewhere in the gospel for the Lord himself, the kyrios, like in Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy. So what Jesus is literally saying, to begin this section, is “no one can be a slave to two lords.” So in other words, you're either going to worship God as the Lord or you're going to worship mammon, which is an Aramaic word for money, wealth or possessions. You will either worship God as your lord or mammon as your lord, but you can't have two lords — just like a servant can't have two masters. And if he does find himself in the situation of having two masters, he’ll either love one and hate the other or cherish one and despise the other. Maybe you can imagine the situation for a modern-day equivalent of perhaps finding yourself in an office where you had two bosses rather than one. In other words, two final authorities that you had to answer to. It would obviously be a situation where you end up picking one over the other. It would not be a good thing. That is what Jesus is describing here. He is saying “sometimes people find themselves in a situation where they are trying to both worship God, and to serve him as their Lord and Master, and at the same time giving themselves over to the worship of money or to the worship of mammon, this Aramaic word for money or wealth that has a very negative connotation.

So in that context, Jesus then moves to the second point, in which he says “don't be anxious about your life.” Now note this here, Jesus here is not making a suggestion, he's not just giving an invitation. Three times in this passage, he's going to give a command. He is commanding us “do not be anxious.” It is an imperative, right, don't be anxious about your life. And then goes on to explain some examples there. So he says “don't be anxious about food, don't be anxious about drink and don't be anxious about clothing.” So those are the basic examples he gives us. Now why does he pick those out? Well because — especially in the first century AD — in the agricultural society in which he lived, in which there was a lot of poverty, these were the basic necessities of life that you needed to live. You need drink, you need food and you need clothing in order to live. And in a situation where there was a lot of poverty, those things were often difficult to come by. So he's exhorting the audience here not to worry even about the most basic necessities of life. Well why, why shouldn't we be anxious about those? Jesus gives examples from the natural world. So the first example he gives is the “birds of the air.” They don't have barns, they don't gather, but God feeds them, he takes care of them. And he says there, “aren’t you worth more than many sparrows,” aren’t you more valuable than the birds of the air — the implied answer being of course. The birds are simply creatures, but he's already revealed to us that human beings are the children of God. God is our father, so it's irrational to believe that God won’t provide for his children if he provides for the birds of the air that are of less value.

Same thing with the issue of clothing. He says “well look at the lilies, look at the beautiful flowers in the field.” You can think about, for example, the flowers when they bloom in the springtime, how beautiful a field of wildflowers is. Jesus says “I tell you, even Solomon in all of his glory and splendor wasn't arrayed like one of these, and yet these wildflowers, today they are beautifying the field but tomorrow they are going to be cut down and used for fire, just thrown into the oven to be burned. Aren’t you more valuable than they?” And there he says something very interesting in that verse, “aren’t you more valuable than they?” And then he says “O you of little faith.” Now that is really important. What he implies there and what he is revealing to us is that every time a person gives into anxiety, it's always a sign of a lack of trust in God. As hard of a truth as that may be to swallow, that is the reality. Anytime we give into anxiety and we let it overcome us, we really are manifesting a lack of pistes in the Greek, which is the word for both faith and trust — it is the same word in Greek. So when he says “O you of little faith,” he is also saying “O you of little trust.” In other words, you're showing that you don't really believe that God is your Father and you don't trust that he will take care of you, that your faith is very small.

So after he makes that challenge, he again commands us “so don't be anxious, going around asking what are we to eat, what are we to drink, what are we to wear?” He says “it's the Gentiles who seek after these things.” Now what does he mean by that? Well the word there for Gentiles is just a reference to the non- Israelites of the world, the pagan peoples of the world. In other words, even people who are without God, how do they live their lives? Well they live their lives seeking after the things of this world. He said “the Gentiles seek all these things and your Father knows that you need them, and you [meaning you, my disciples] have to be different. You have to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these necessities of life shall be given to you as well.” So what does that mean to seek first the kingdom of God, because that seems to be the main thrust, the main point of all the examples Jesus is giving here? What does that mean? Does that mean that I don't even try to take care of my family, to acquire food and drink and clothing and shelter for my family by working for a living? Is that what it means?

If you look here at the history of the Church, the tradition of the Church is well represented by St. Augustine, who says that “what Jesus means when he says to ‘seek first the kingdom and all these other things shall be provided for you as well’ is this; it’s that God knows that we need the necessities of life: food, clothing, that kind of thing, but that in the acquisition of those things we should always seek first the kingdom.” In other words, we don’t seek those things for their own sake. We do it with an eternal end in mind. So what he's getting at here — this is so, so crucial — is that ultimately our service has to be to the Lord. We can't make the things of this world, the necessities of this world, whether it be money or food or clothing, we can't turn them into our masters so that we become slaves to them. Rather, those are all tools that build up our natural life for the sake of supernatural life, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus goes on to to make this clear when he says “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.” In other words, God's going to provide for all your necessities. That doesn't mean he is going to make you rich, this is not a health and wealth gospel. Note that, this is important, when he says “all these things shall be yours as well,” he doesn't mention fast cars and big boats and lavish houses. What is he talking about? Food, clothing, drink and shelter, the necessities of life. So God will provide for our necessities, but we need to order our acquisition of these possessions and money and food and clothing, ultimately to their end which is God himself and the kingdom of God, so that we are always living with our ultimate end in mind.


SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So first he asserts his identity as a steward of the mystery of God. But then he goes on to defend himself basically and say, “Look, it doesn’t really matter to me if I’m being judged…

...by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.

And then Paul says something very interesting. He says here:

I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.

Now this is a very important point on two counts. First, it’s a very Jewish thing for Paul to say this, for him to look at this own conscience, to look at his own life and say, “I don’t see any cause, any sin in my life that gives you grounds for judging me. However, that doesn't mean that I’m acquitted.” And the reason that he would say that is because in the Jewish Scriptures—in the Psalter, in particular, the book of Psalms—it’s very clear that of course there are sins that we can commit with full knowledge and deliberate consent. “Over the high hand” is the language you’ll sometimes see. But there are also hidden sins. In other words, things that we do that violate love of God or love of neighbor, but which we ourselves are not aware of. For example, if you look at Psalm 19:12, it says this:

...who can discern his errors?

And then the Psalmist says to God:

Clear thou me from hidden faults.

In other words, in Psalm 19, the Psalmist is praying to God, asking for the grace to avoid flagrant sin. But he also says, “I want you to cleanse me from all sin, even those hidden faults that I’m not even aware of.” Because what human being can be aware of every single fault and every single error that they have? So Paul here kind of reflects that Jewish idea that I’m not even aware myself of all of my sins, so I don’t judge myself.

The second thing that’s interesting about that verse is the translation here. So Paul says:

I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.

Now that’s an interesting translation of the verb, because the verb in Greek here is dikaioō. It ordinarily when Paul used it—in fact, almost every time Paul uses this term, it ordinarly gets translated as “justified.” Dikaioō is to make righteous or to declare righteous. This is the famous verb that has become the center of so much debate since the time of the Protestant Reformation. How are we justified? How are we made righteous? How are we declared righteous in God’s sight? As Paul says, it’s going to be through faith apart from works of the law. But what does that mean? Does that mean faith alone? Do our works matter? What role do they play in justification? That’s a long standing debate between Protestants and Catholics since the time of the Reformation.

But what’s interesting here is Paul uses the term justify to refer to what in context is his final judgment, or what theologians will call final justification. So there’s an initial justification that takes place at the beginning of life in Christ, where God declares a person righteous. Through faith and Baptism, they become a son of God. But there’s also a final justification, a final declaration of righteousness that takes place at the final judgment. And Paul here in context is obviously talking about that. So if you translate it literally, what he says is:

I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby [justified]. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes… (1 Corinthians 4:3b-5a)

So you see, there’s your context...that the justification and the judgment that he’s talking about is the final judgment that will take place at the parousia, at the second coming of Christ at the eschaton, the end of the age.

So what he’s doing here is he’s giving a little warning here. Only at the end of time, only at the final judgment will everything that is now hidden from human beings come to light when the Lord judges the hearts of each individual person. He’s the only one that has the omniscience—knowing all things, the power to know all things. God is the only one who has the omniscience necessary to even pass judgment on a human being.

So Paul gives us a salutary warning here against two tendencies. The first one is to judge other people, to pronounce a judgment—a verdict of whether another person is justified or not, whether they are saved or damned. It is imprudent and really irrational for any human being to pronounce in a definitive way that kind of judgment on another human being, because only God can judge the human heart.

The second thing he wants to guard against is pronouncing a judgment on ourselves, on our own souls. Paul says:

I am not aware of anything...but I am not thereby [justified]. It is the Lord who judges me.

I don’t get to be the judge of myself. Only at the final judgment will every person’s reward or punishment be doled out to that individual. Now the reason this particular text is, I think, very important in the context of contemporary Christianity—especially since the time of the Reformation—is that at the time of the Reformation, the idea began to spread among some of the Protestant reformers that a person who was in Christ, who was a believer who had been justified by faith, should be able to have absolute certainty that they were going to be saved. In fact, and if they didn’t have certainty, then that person could be declared as not yet being justified or not being saved.

This takes contemporary form in the very common question—if you’re a Catholic, especially if you’re living in Europe or the United States where there’s a heavy influence of churches that have come from the Protestant Reformation, you’ve probably been asked this question, “Are you saved?” Sometimes you’ll hear it phrased in this way, “If you die tonight, do you know for certain that you would go to Heaven?” And Catholics who are cradle Catholics (who have grown up in the Church) are often stumped by those kinds of questions or it gives them pause. They have to think about...well, wait, how do I answer that? Because the Church doesn’t talk about salvation in those specific terms, and those questions are really flowing out of a particular view of salvation that makes our justification in Christ contingent or dependent upon us having subjective certitude that if we died, we would go to Heaven and that we are saved.

So how does the Church respond to that kind of question? What does the Church teach about absolute assurance of salvation? How does she interpret Paul’s words here in 1 Corinthians 4? In order to answer that question, I’ve given you a quote here. This is from the Council of Trent, the Decree on Justification that was promulgated by the Catholic Church in the mid 1500s, the year 1546. A very important, very famous decree where the Catholic Church—it’s long, too, and detailed—gives an explicitly biblical description of how we understand the process of salvation and justification, the relationship between faith and works. And in that Decree on Justification, the Council of Trent says this about the whole idea of absolute assurance of salvation and also how to interpret Paul’s words in the readings for today.

For full access subscribe here >

 



Gospel, First Reading & Psalm


Second Reading


***Subscribe or Login for Full Access.***

GOSPEL, FIRST READING & PSALM TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So let's look at the Gospel reading today, which is from Matthew6:24-34, and then we will try to unpack it and ask some questions about it. This is how the Gospel reads:

No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you shall eat or what you shall drink, nor about your body, what you shall put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add one cubit to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they neither toil nor spin; yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O men of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, `What shall we eat?' or `What shall we drink?' or `What shall we wear?'

For the Gentiles seek all these things; and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things shall be yours as well. Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Let the day's own trouble be sufficient for the day.

So that is the end of the Gospel. What I want to do with this Gospel is to just break down a few of the key points here. Obviously Jesus is hitting on a major theme here of trust in divine providence, trusting in God's care — his care for his precious children. He's already given us the image in the Sermon on the Mount of God as our Father, so now he's trying to draw out the implications of that reality — to how we live our daily lives, and in particular, to what we do in our concern for the cares of the world: food, clothing, money and the future. These are the things that almost every human being, indeed every human being, has to think about and often finds oneself anxious about: money, food, drink, clothing and the future.

So what does Jesus have to tell us about this? Let’s walk through the Gospel point by point. Number one. He begins first and foremost by giving us this very stark image of “no one being able to serve two masters.” The Greek language here is a little stronger than our English puts it. So when Jesus says “no one can serve two masters,” the Greek word there is douleu, which literally means to be a slave to; and the Greek word for master, kyrios, literally means lord. It is the same word you will find elsewhere in the gospel for the Lord himself, the kyrios, like in Kyrie Eleison, Lord have mercy. So what Jesus is literally saying, to begin this section, is “no one can be a slave to two lords.” So in other words, you're either going to worship God as the Lord or you're going to worship mammon, which is an Aramaic word for money, wealth or possessions. You will either worship God as your lord or mammon as your lord, but you can't have two lords — just like a servant can't have two masters. And if he does find himself in the situation of having two masters, he’ll either love one and hate the other or cherish one and despise the other. Maybe you can imagine the situation for a modern-day equivalent of perhaps finding yourself in an office where you had two bosses rather than one. In other words, two final authorities that you had to answer to. It would obviously be a situation where you end up picking one over the other. It would not be a good thing. That is what Jesus is describing here. He is saying “sometimes people find themselves in a situation where they are trying to both worship God, and to serve him as their Lord and Master, and at the same time giving themselves over to the worship of money or to the worship of mammon, this Aramaic word for money or wealth that has a very negative connotation.

So in that context, Jesus then moves to the second point, in which he says “don't be anxious about your life.” Now note this here, Jesus here is not making a suggestion, he's not just giving an invitation. Three times in this passage, he's going to give a command. He is commanding us “do not be anxious.” It is an imperative, right, don't be anxious about your life. And then goes on to explain some examples there. So he says “don't be anxious about food, don't be anxious about drink and don't be anxious about clothing.” So those are the basic examples he gives us. Now why does he pick those out? Well because — especially in the first century AD — in the agricultural society in which he lived, in which there was a lot of poverty, these were the basic necessities of life that you needed to live. You need drink, you need food and you need clothing in order to live. And in a situation where there was a lot of poverty, those things were often difficult to come by. So he's exhorting the audience here not to worry even about the most basic necessities of life. Well why, why shouldn't we be anxious about those? Jesus gives examples from the natural world. So the first example he gives is the “birds of the air.” They don't have barns, they don't gather, but God feeds them, he takes care of them. And he says there, “aren’t you worth more than many sparrows,” aren’t you more valuable than the birds of the air — the implied answer being of course. The birds are simply creatures, but he's already revealed to us that human beings are the children of God. God is our father, so it's irrational to believe that God won’t provide for his children if he provides for the birds of the air that are of less value.

Same thing with the issue of clothing. He says “well look at the lilies, look at the beautiful flowers in the field.” You can think about, for example, the flowers when they bloom in the springtime, how beautiful a field of wildflowers is. Jesus says “I tell you, even Solomon in all of his glory and splendor wasn't arrayed like one of these, and yet these wildflowers, today they are beautifying the field but tomorrow they are going to be cut down and used for fire, just thrown into the oven to be burned. Aren’t you more valuable than they?” And there he says something very interesting in that verse, “aren’t you more valuable than they?” And then he says “O you of little faith.” Now that is really important. What he implies there and what he is revealing to us is that every time a person gives into anxiety, it's always a sign of a lack of trust in God. As hard of a truth as that may be to swallow, that is the reality. Anytime we give into anxiety and we let it overcome us, we really are manifesting a lack of pistes in the Greek, which is the word for both faith and trust — it is the same word in Greek. So when he says “O you of little faith,” he is also saying “O you of little trust.” In other words, you're showing that you don't really believe that God is your Father and you don't trust that he will take care of you, that your faith is very small.

So after he makes that challenge, he again commands us “so don't be anxious, going around asking what are we to eat, what are we to drink, what are we to wear?” He says “it's the Gentiles who seek after these things.” Now what does he mean by that? Well the word there for Gentiles is just a reference to the non- Israelites of the world, the pagan peoples of the world. In other words, even people who are without God, how do they live their lives? Well they live their lives seeking after the things of this world. He said “the Gentiles seek all these things and your Father knows that you need them, and you [meaning you, my disciples] have to be different. You have to seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and then all these necessities of life shall be given to you as well.” So what does that mean to seek first the kingdom of God, because that seems to be the main thrust, the main point of all the examples Jesus is giving here? What does that mean? Does that mean that I don't even try to take care of my family, to acquire food and drink and clothing and shelter for my family by working for a living? Is that what it means?

If you look here at the history of the Church, the tradition of the Church is well represented by St. Augustine, who says that “what Jesus means when he says to ‘seek first the kingdom and all these other things shall be provided for you as well’ is this; it’s that God knows that we need the necessities of life: food, clothing, that kind of thing, but that in the acquisition of those things we should always seek first the kingdom.” In other words, we don’t seek those things for their own sake. We do it with an eternal end in mind. So what he's getting at here — this is so, so crucial — is that ultimately our service has to be to the Lord. We can't make the things of this world, the necessities of this world, whether it be money or food or clothing, we can't turn them into our masters so that we become slaves to them. Rather, those are all tools that build up our natural life for the sake of supernatural life, for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. And Jesus goes on to to make this clear when he says “seek first his kingdom and his righteousness and all these things shall be yours as well.” In other words, God's going to provide for all your necessities. That doesn't mean he is going to make you rich, this is not a health and wealth gospel. Note that, this is important, when he says “all these things shall be yours as well,” he doesn't mention fast cars and big boats and lavish houses. What is he talking about? Food, clothing, drink and shelter, the necessities of life. So God will provide for our necessities, but we need to order our acquisition of these possessions and money and food and clothing, ultimately to their end which is God himself and the kingdom of God, so that we are always living with our ultimate end in mind.


SECOND READING TRANSCRIPT (Subscribe or Login for Full Transcript):

So first he asserts his identity as a steward of the mystery of God. But then he goes on to defend himself basically and say, “Look, it doesn’t really matter to me if I’m being judged…

...by you or by any human court. I do not even judge myself.

And then Paul says something very interesting. He says here:

I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.

Now this is a very important point on two counts. First, it’s a very Jewish thing for Paul to say this, for him to look at this own conscience, to look at his own life and say, “I don’t see any cause, any sin in my life that gives you grounds for judging me. However, that doesn't mean that I’m acquitted.” And the reason that he would say that is because in the Jewish Scriptures—in the Psalter, in particular, the book of Psalms—it’s very clear that of course there are sins that we can commit with full knowledge and deliberate consent. “Over the high hand” is the language you’ll sometimes see. But there are also hidden sins. In other words, things that we do that violate love of God or love of neighbor, but which we ourselves are not aware of. For example, if you look at Psalm 19:12, it says this:

...who can discern his errors?

And then the Psalmist says to God:

Clear thou me from hidden faults.

In other words, in Psalm 19, the Psalmist is praying to God, asking for the grace to avoid flagrant sin. But he also says, “I want you to cleanse me from all sin, even those hidden faults that I’m not even aware of.” Because what human being can be aware of every single fault and every single error that they have? So Paul here kind of reflects that Jewish idea that I’m not even aware myself of all of my sins, so I don’t judge myself.

The second thing that’s interesting about that verse is the translation here. So Paul says:

I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby acquitted.

Now that’s an interesting translation of the verb, because the verb in Greek here is dikaioō. It ordinarily when Paul used it—in fact, almost every time Paul uses this term, it ordinarly gets translated as “justified.” Dikaioō is to make righteous or to declare righteous. This is the famous verb that has become the center of so much debate since the time of the Protestant Reformation. How are we justified? How are we made righteous? How are we declared righteous in God’s sight? As Paul says, it’s going to be through faith apart from works of the law. But what does that mean? Does that mean faith alone? Do our works matter? What role do they play in justification? That’s a long standing debate between Protestants and Catholics since the time of the Reformation.

But what’s interesting here is Paul uses the term justify to refer to what in context is his final judgment, or what theologians will call final justification. So there’s an initial justification that takes place at the beginning of life in Christ, where God declares a person righteous. Through faith and Baptism, they become a son of God. But there’s also a final justification, a final declaration of righteousness that takes place at the final judgment. And Paul here in context is obviously talking about that. So if you translate it literally, what he says is:

I do not even judge myself. I am not aware of anything against myself, but I am not thereby [justified]. It is the Lord who judges me. Therefore do not pronounce judgment before the time, before the Lord comes… (1 Corinthians 4:3b-5a)

So you see, there’s your context...that the justification and the judgment that he’s talking about is the final judgment that will take place at the parousia, at the second coming of Christ at the eschaton, the end of the age.

So what he’s doing here is he’s giving a little warning here. Only at the end of time, only at the final judgment will everything that is now hidden from human beings come to light when the Lord judges the hearts of each individual person. He’s the only one that has the omniscience—knowing all things, the power to know all things. God is the only one who has the omniscience necessary to even pass judgment on a human being.

So Paul gives us a salutary warning here against two tendencies. The first one is to judge other people, to pronounce a judgment—a verdict of whether another person is justified or not, whether they are saved or damned. It is imprudent and really irrational for any human being to pronounce in a definitive way that kind of judgment on another human being, because only God can judge the human heart.

The second thing he wants to guard against is pronouncing a judgment on ourselves, on our own souls. Paul says:

I am not aware of anything...but I am not thereby [justified]. It is the Lord who judges me.

I don’t get to be the judge of myself. Only at the final judgment will every person’s reward or punishment be doled out to that individual. Now the reason this particular text is, I think, very important in the context of contemporary Christianity—especially since the time of the Reformation—is that at the time of the Reformation, the idea began to spread among some of the Protestant reformers that a person who was in Christ, who was a believer who had been justified by faith, should be able to have absolute certainty that they were going to be saved. In fact, and if they didn’t have certainty, then that person could be declared as not yet being justified or not being saved.

This takes contemporary form in the very common question—if you’re a Catholic, especially if you’re living in Europe or the United States where there’s a heavy influence of churches that have come from the Protestant Reformation, you’ve probably been asked this question, “Are you saved?” Sometimes you’ll hear it phrased in this way, “If you die tonight, do you know for certain that you would go to Heaven?” And Catholics who are cradle Catholics (who have grown up in the Church) are often stumped by those kinds of questions or it gives them pause. They have to think about...well, wait, how do I answer that? Because the Church doesn’t talk about salvation in those specific terms, and those questions are really flowing out of a particular view of salvation that makes our justification in Christ contingent or dependent upon us having subjective certitude that if we died, we would go to Heaven and that we are saved.

So how does the Church respond to that kind of question? What does the Church teach about absolute assurance of salvation? How does she interpret Paul’s words here in 1 Corinthians 4? In order to answer that question, I’ve given you a quote here. This is from the Council of Trent, the Decree on Justification that was promulgated by the Catholic Church in the mid 1500s, the year 1546. A very important, very famous decree where the Catholic Church—it’s long, too, and detailed—gives an explicitly biblical description of how we understand the process of salvation and justification, the relationship between faith and works. And in that Decree on Justification, the Council of Trent says this about the whole idea of absolute assurance of salvation and also how to interpret Paul’s words in the readings for today.

For full access subscribe here >

 



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Letting Customers Speak for Us

3673 reviews
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Biblical explanation of the mass
So interesting!
Non-arrival
I am sorry it is taking so long. There have been delays with the USPS due to the pandemic. I did see that it left Atlanta August 3 so the fact that it is still updating is promising as it means it is not lost. If you don't see any updates after several days let me know so we can send out another shipment if required.
Very Informative.