Reflections on the Readings
Twenty-First Sunday in Ordinary Time
Eleventh Sunday After Pentecost
August 24, 2014 - Year A
God's Plan of Salvation
O the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!
"For who has known the mind of the Lord?
"Or who has given a gift to him,
to receive a gift in return?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen. (Romans 11:33-36)
If we don't get Jesus right we don't get heaven. I didn't make that up. It's in the Bible. The guy Jesus gave the keys to testified under arrest that this Jesus is 'the stone that was rejected by you the builders; it has become the cornerstone and there is salvation in no one else, for there is only one name under heaven given among mortals by which we must be saved!' (Peter - Acts 4:11-12)
Jesus asks two questions: "Who do folks say that I am?" And, "Who do you say that I am?" The second question is more important for us. Because if we don't get this question right we really won't know God's plan of salvation; the reality of God's life for us in His Son.
Paul exults in the 'depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!' Without the Holy Spirit we may condemn God's plan as anemic, weak, even unreasonable. For the message about the cross is foolishness to those who are perishing, but to us who are being saved it is the power of God. (1 Corinthians 1:18)
God sent his Son not in the clouds of glory riding triumphantly with a battle cry of victory over Satan and his minions. Rather, in the fulness of time, God sent forth his son, made of a woman, born under the law of Moses, in order to redeem those who were under the law as well as those outside of the covenant made with Israel. He came to us wrapped in swaddling clothes, lying in a manger. For the angel said to the shepherds, "Fear not! For behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, which shall be to all people! To you is born this day in the city of David a Savior."
Paul yearned for his kinsman to receive Christ as God's only Son who came to his own riding on the back of a donkey with palm branches lining his path. Not as a King commanding homage but rather as a Servant-King on a mission to shed his blood not only for the house of Israel but for the whole world. Can anything good come out of Nazareth? As it is none of the rulers of this age understood the wisdom of God, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of Glory. Satan didn't know what hit him. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do: by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and to deal with sin, he condemned sin in the flesh. For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.
What a plan! A second Adam to redeem the first Adam; to liberate the progeny of the first Adam from the law of sin and its first fruit, death. For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set us free from the law of sin and death. (Romans 8:2)
St. Leo the Great elaborates on this plan: For the Son of God in the fullness of time which the inscrutable depth of the Divine counsel has determined, has taken on him the nature of man, thereby to reconcile it to its Author: in order that the inventor of death, the devil, might be conquered through that [nature] which he had conquered. And in this conflict undertaken for us, the fight was fought on great and wondrous principles of fairness; for the Almighty Lord enters the battle with His savage foe not in His own majesty but in our humility, opposing him with the same form and the same nature, which shares indeed our mortality, though it is free from all sin. (Pope Leo Sermon 21)
What a plan! God's plan of salvation! Do I hear a heartfelt, "Thank you, Jesus?"
For from him and through him and to him are all things. To him be the glory forever. Amen.
Dennis Hankins, a Catholic Evangelist, is a parishioner at Sacred Heart of Jesus Cathedral, of the Diocese of Knoxville, TN. Prior to uniting with the Catholic Church at the Easter Vigil 2006, Dennis served as a priest in the Charismatic Episcopal Church. E-mail Dennis at: firstname.lastname@example.org or follow him on Twitter: @dshankins or visit him at: www.dennishankins.com