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Living by the Spirit: Salvation and Our Mission
Are We Failing to Accept the Inheritance?
St. Paul explains it this way, “For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. (Rom. 8:13-17 ESV-CE)
Are we squandering our inheritance? Let’s take a look…
•For every 1 Convert to the Catholic Church; 6 leave the Church
O'Loughlin, Michael. “Pew Survey: Percentage of US Catholics Drops and Catholicism Is Losing Members Faster than Any Denomination.” Crux, May 12, 2015. https://cruxnow.com/church/2015/05/pew-survey-percentage-of-us-catholics-drops-and-catholicism-is-losing-members-faster-than-any-denomination/.
Loss of Faith
•Nearly 70% of Catholics in the United States do not believe in the Real Presence of the Sacred Body and Precious Blood of Jesus Christ in the Eucharist—The Source and Summit of our Catholic Faith.
Smith, Gregory A. “Just One-Third of U.S. Catholics Agree with Their Church That Eucharist Is Body, Blood of Christ.” Pew Research Center. Pew Research Center, May 30, 2020. https://www.pewresearch.org/fact-tank/2019/08/05/transubstantiation-eucharist-u-s-catholics/.
Why does participation matter for each one of us In the Church’s Mission for the Salvation of Souls?
•There are two parts in Chapter 7 of Matthew’s Gospel where Jesus explains the urgency of Salvation and Mission:
“Enter by the narrow gate. For the gate is wide and the way is easy that leads to destruction, and those who enter by it are many. For the gate is narrow and the way is hard that leads to life, and those who find it are few. (ESV-CE Mt 7:13–14)
“Not every one who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you evildoers.’ (RSV-CE Mt 7:21–23.)
Wait…is this about Hell? Didn’t Vatican II change the Catholic understanding of it…
The Fathers of the Vatican II council gave a more nuanced answer for those who have not heard the Gospel. They may be saved by the grace and mercy of God through Jesus Christ but the probability for many is that they will be deceived by Satan and ultimately reject salvation.
Vatican II’s Dogmatic Constitution Lumen Gentium 16 teaches, “But often men, deceived by the Evil One, have become vain in their reasonings and have exchanged the truth of God for a lie, serving the creature rather than the Creator.(129) Or some there are who, living and dying in this world without God, are exposed to final despair. Wherefore to promote the glory of God and procure the salvation of all of these, and mindful of the command of the Lord, "Preach the Gospel to every creature",(130) the Church fosters the missions with care and attention.”
Okay, Okay, So, the mission is urgent. What is this inheritance?
Jesus’ first and foremost mission is to restore our friendship with God in the divine life by redeeming us from our sins and raising us to eternal life. Christ gives the people of God a mission as co-redeemers in the sense that he gives all of us the command to preach the good news of salvation to all nations. He does this through the means of His mission of baptizing by the Holy Spirit.
•The Gospel of John reads, “And John bore witness: “I saw the Spirit descend from heaven like a dove, and it remained on him. 33 I myself did not know him, but he who sent me to baptize with water said to me, ‘He on whom you see the Spirit descend and remain, this is he who baptizes with the Holy Spirit.’ 34 And I have seen and have borne witness that this is the Son of God.” (Jn 1:32–34 ESV-CE)
•Jesus explains this further to Nicodemus, “Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.” (Jn 3:5–8 ESV-CE)
•Before Jesus ascended to Heaven He explains, “ 8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.” Acts.1:7–8 ESV-CE
What this means in detail is explained in John 14:15-31:
•”But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in my name, he will teach you all things and bring to your remembrance all that I have said to you. “ (Jn 14:26 ESV-CE)
Jesus prefaces the entire passage with the phrase, ”If you love me, you will keep my commandments.” (Jn. 14:15) It’s important at this juncture to remember that last commandment given at the end of the Gospel of Matthew 28:
•Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. (Mt 28:19–20 ESV-CE)
”Be Baptized by the Holy Spirit!”
Many might take these phrases as nothing more than good thoughts, but it is a recognition of the power of the third person of the Blessed Trinity upon us by virtue of our baptism.
•It is ”a constant prayer in our heart.”
It rests in a recognition of a faith that is not merely natural, but supernatural. The early Christian church recognized and lived this faith.
•Read the Acts of the Apostles
•Read the Letters of St. Paul
The early Christians lived with this reality of the Holy Spirit…