The second reading at Mass on Sunday last, the first Sunday of Lent, was an encouraging word, and a profoundly sober and levelling word.
Scripture says: The word (that is the faith we proclaim) is very near to you, it is on your lips and in your heart.
If your lips confess that Jesus is Lord and if you believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, then you will be saved.
By believing from the heart you are made righteous; by confessing with your lips you are saved.
When scripture says: those who believe in him will have no cause for shame, it makes no distinction between Jew and Greek: all belong to the same Lord who is rich enough, however many ask his help, for everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.
We are lost, unless we are saved. And if we are saved we are saved not by our own efforts, but because of what God has done and what Jesus is.
We could argue from Paul’s words that our salvation is achieved by our believing, our confessing, but that would surely be false to the tenor of Paul’s argument. It is the Lord who saves and we have access to that salvation by his love: our faith, our confession are an acceptance of his gift not a forcing of his hand.
When such goodness is offered and we do not believe, confess, have faith, then failure is ours and we are lost. Unless, until, we can call on him and then the gift is freely given.
All is his gift.
And his gift is offered freely to all – Jew, Greek, and all the many differentiations that we make between the ‘all’ to whom God gives life, the ‘all’ that ‘we’ are.
- Who do you exclude from the ‘we’ you count yourself part of?
- Does anyone else? Does God?
Window by Burne-Jones, Cathedral Church of Saint Philip, Birmingham. (c) 2013, Allen Morris.