Posts Tagged ‘Romans’

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?

June 12, 2015

Are there different degrees of reward in Heaven ?
This question was posed not long ago through a friend.   This brings about an interesting question and since we really dont have a vast understanding of the nature of Heaven aside from some of the writings of the Apostles, and mystics, it might cause some to wonder about this question.

We need a little background  for this we turn to Romans 2:6-11

” (God) who will repay everyone according to his works,

eternal life to those who seek glory, honor, and immortality through perseverance in good works,

but wrath and fury to those who selfishly disobey the truth and obey wickedness.

Yes, affliction and distress will come upon every human being who does evil, Jew first and then Greek.

But there will be glory, honor, and peace for everyone who does good, Jew first and then Greek.

There is no partiality with God. ”
So, there are interesting parts of this.. In this section of scripture Paul is explaining to the pagans and the Jews that there will be a price to pay for their stubborness in their ways.

The first part of this verse says that God will repay everyone according to their works.  Seek to do good works and then persevere in seeking Honor, glory and immortality.   I might lead one to think that you might gain insurmountable wealth in Heaven..
heck you might get a huge mansion which would be better than the shack your neighbor got because he didnt work as hard as you did, and so you deserve it !

This manner of thinking is a slippery slope into the sin of pride amongst other things.

Here is the other side of the coin.  It was God given grace that gives us the urgings to do good works.
We get the promptings of the spirit as the result of a well formed conscience, that leads us to do good works.

So even the works that you do are not really your own.  Yes, we have free will, and we could refuse those promptings and persists in some other form of sin.  Since we already know that these are the urgings and promptings of the Spirit, then how can we claim those as prize.
Lets dig a little more.

In John 14:2 is the verse ” In my fathers house there are many mansions, if it were not so I would have told you, I am going to prepare a place for you there”.

In this verse, the term “mansion” is not what we think of today a huge house with many rooms and winding staircases etc..  In this case a “mansion” was a word that was used to mean a a dwelling in a family home.  These are places where extended family both by blood and marriage would live.    He went to prepare a place for us there in that kind of close family environment.

THis idea flys in the face of the idea that there would be that kind of materialistic reward.

The Catechism (CCC#2007)  shares ” With regard to God, ther eis no strict right to any meriton the part of man.  Between God and us there is an immeasurable inequality , for we ahve recieved everything from Him , our Creator”.

(CCC#2008) ” The merit of man before God in the Christian life  arises from the fact that God as freely chosen to associate man with the work of His grace”.  … SO that the merit of good works is to be attributed in the first place to the grace of God, and then to the faithful.  Man’s merit moreover, itself is due to God, for his good actisons proceeed in Christ, from the predispositions and assistance given by the Holy Spirit.”
Lactantius had the following to say :

“”Let every one train himself to righteousness, mold himself to self-restraint, prepare himself for the contest, equip himself for virtue . . . [and] in his uprightness acknowledge the true and only God, may cast away pleasures, by the attractions of which the lofty soul is depressed to the earth, may hold fast innocence, may be of service to as many as possible, may gain for himself incorruptible treasures by good works, that he may be able, with God for his judge, to gain for the merits of his virtue either the crown of faith, or the reward of immortality” (Epitome of the Divine Institutes 73 [A.D. 317]).

Here is the crux of the matter.  The reward for living a good and holy life, that of virtue, of morals, and struggling for the goodness of God and for His greater glory is not of riches in the human idea of wealth.  Instead it is faith, and immortality in Heaven with God.

Here again we see how simple our faith can be.  Those things that we learned so long ago in the Catechism we were taught as young children,  Our purpose, is to know God, to Love God , to serve God, so that we can be with God in Heaven…. Amen !

May God give you the gift of His peace !

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Separation Anxiety

September 1, 2014

“For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor present things, nor future things, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor any other creature will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.”  Romans 8:38 , 39

 

At some point in everyones faith life, they go through this period where they feel a certain separation anxiety.  They feel like they are somehow separated from God.  Possibly that God is ignoring them, or has turned Himself away from them, or just no longer listening.

All of the greatest saints went through something similar. Saint John of the Cross, wrote an entire book on the subject. ” The Dark Night of the Soul”.

Then Mother Teresa of Calcutta wrote in her Biography about her dark days of feeling separated.  Padre Pio same thing.   All of these people have gone through these periods of feeling that they have become separated somehow from Gods loving attention.

Possibly at some point you felt closer to God, while seeing that your prayers were open and connected and you were blessed with the wisdom to see that God was there at work in your life.  Those times are given to you as a matter of grace.  Those experiences should be the very fulcrum of your witness for God.  You should testify through your life, through your example to take that spiritual feeding that you have received and share it with your brothers and sisters.

It is important to realize that just because you do not recognize God working with you does not mean that He is not there.    Part of the story in the paschal mystery includes the women who went to the tomb of Jesus.

Mary the Blessed Mother at first did not recognize Jesus, even believed he was a gardener, spoke to Him and asked where they had taken Jesus. She was going through those feelings of separation, even though she knew.  She could not see clearly.

Then again, Jesus appears to the apostles on the road to Emmaus.  They spoke to him.  They too did not recognize Him at first.

This is an important lesson for all who feel separated from God.  First, you are most certainly NOT alone !   Your feelings are not foreign to a life of faith.  Indeed, in the over two thousand year history of the Church universal, you can most certainly find in the bible a place where there is someone who has gone through exactly what you are feeling or going through.

Many times in the course of our human lives, we are caught up in the worldly part of our existence.  It is our Job, our homes, our relationships, our pressures from without and within, all that cause stress, and anxiety, because we do not see clearly.

We may not see clearly now, however, with prayer, with a heart that seeks to know the will of God, with the courage to pick up our cross and move forward in faith, we may yet see where God was indeed with us all the time.

Still need more convincing ? – Jesus guarantees to each of us in Matthew 28:20  ” Behold, I am with you even until the end of the age”.

It does not get any more plain than that.  Jesus will not leave or forsake you through your struggles and pains or trials.  Have faith, Love God, and carry your cross, and when that trial is over, go forth and become a witness for what God has done in your life.

May God give you the gift of His peace !

 

Suffering and Glory (Part III)

July 4, 2014

” For creation waits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God :  For creation was made subject to futility, not of its own accord , but because of the one who subjected it.  In the hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. ”

When planting a garden we prepare the soil, then we plant  seeds  and tend the garden, weeding and we wait in anticipation for the crops to grow and produce fruits and vegetables.  God plants seeds within us and that divine spark of the spirit that we have at the point of conception.

It is interesting that the scripture here says that creation waits , instead of the Lord waits.  If we consider that “creation” encompasses the entirety of Heaven and Earth and all they contain, we can say that creation is all encompassing of Heaven and Earth in our human understanding waits for the Children of God to be revealed…

It is almost like it is saying that creation awaits  the children of God because they do not really know who they are yet or what they will do but they have an idea that it will be glorious when they finally do show up and reveal themselves.  This, not  unlike the Israelites who were waiting for the Messiah.  They did not really know who it would be , they had some indications , but couldn’t wait for Him to be revealed.

This revelation that creation so eagerly awaits, is still in a longing.  The revelation might come in two parts.  The first part with the revelation of the individual person, something that occurs when individual people come to the realization that they are indeed a child of God, and strive to live like one.  Through this revelation they come to various understandings revealed to them where God is present in their lives and working with and around them.

The second part might be the community of believers, the Body of Christ, would realize that working together that the Body becomes one, and the Spirit moving among, around, and through them, will join them together and the world will be set ablaze with the Holy Spirit’s fire.

 

 

 

 

Suffering and Glory ! (Part I)

June 20, 2014

“ The suffering of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us.

For creation awaits with eager expectation the revelation of the children of God;

For creation was made subject to futility , not of its own accord but because of the One who subjected it in hope that creation itself would be set free from slavery to corruption and share in the glorious freedom of the children of God. ”

 

This reading  shares with us a message both of hope and of faith.  “ The sufferings of this present time are as nothing compared with the glory to be revealed for us “!  – What a beautiful thought.

We go through sufferings in this life.  Our brothers and sisters  are sick, homeless, hungry and a whole host of other crosses that we carry day to day.    Maybe your cross is your job, a family situation, a child, a spouse, or just life in general.

 

There is a man who spends his days longing for his earthly life to end.  He has a permanent disability so he walks with crutches.  He longs for  a new heavenly body and to see Jesus face to face.

While the end result is much what we might desire, the preface is wrong.

We can’t just go into a hospital and pul on a lab coat or scrubs with no training or education and say “ Hey, I am now a doctor, I need to do a surgery now !”.  It takes hard work, it stakes study, patience and endurance.  The same thing applies in this situation.

 

Our lives demand a lot from us.  We are born like a diamond that is just pulled from the earth.  Through a life of faith we clear away the dirt.  We are washed in the waters of Baptism and through the crosses that we bare , through our experiences, through our faith our lives are cut, and polished , this is the hard work.

 

We need to study !  The way we come to understand our faith, the way we come to know Jesus better the way that we get a deeper understanding not only of the history of our faith but its application in our lives, is to study.  Study the Bible !  Learn about the different people who live in those pages, the struggles they went though and how it is that the Lord spoke to them.  What Jesus said to them.  What did God teach them out their own situations ? Their lives ?  What was the faith lesson that was part of  the story ?

 

Insert yourself into the stories.  Can you understand the perspective of each person within the passage ?  Look at the surroundings and the circumstances.  We should be able to relate to the disciples, and others in the narratives and parables.

The hard work involved in this world. is the clearing away of the garbage.  It is the finding the diamond of our faith and the discovery of its beauty and the meaning it has for our lives.

 

The sufferings of this time, might be that, other in your life do not understand your faith, or are even disapproving of it.   For most , the biggest cross they carry is that as you learn more, and study more about your faith, the of our own interior flaws become apparent.  We can see our own imperfections and then begin anew the struggles and hard work of cutting away and polishing to remove those imperfections as they are revealed.

 

We struggle , we work hard, and we fail.  After some failing we become aware of our weaknesses , our human failings .  We are our own worst critics.  We have to recognize our failings , and make the amends and corrections, as best we are able and begin again.  There are two other points in this process, that are both the hardest and the most important, after seeking forgiveness from God and others, we need to forgive ourselves and seek the help of God in our struggle and work of fixing those flaws.

The other point is being able to recognize the same struggles in other people.  Our brothers and sisters are going through their own struggles and crosses.  We need to be able to understand  and look beyond the surface and to forgive them for any perceived or actual injuries, and help if we can.