Sunday reflection: Matthew 13:44–52

posted at 12:01 pm on July 27, 2014 by Ed Morrissey

“Sunday Reflection” is a regular feature, looking at the specific readings used in today’s Mass in Catholic parishes around the world. The reflection represents only my own point of view, intended to help prepare myself for the Lord’s day and perhaps spark a meaningful discussionPrevious Sunday Reflections from the main page can be found here For previous Green Room entries, click here.

This morning’s Gospel reading is Matthew 13:44–52:

Jesus said to his disciples:

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it. Again, the kingdom of heaven is like a net thrown into the sea, which collects fish of every kind. When it is full they haul it ashore and sit down to put what is good into buckets. What is bad they throw away. Thus it will be at the end of the age. The angels will go out and separate the wicked from the righteous and throw them into the fiery furnace, where there will be wailing and grinding of teeth.

“Do you understand all these things?” They answered, “Yes.” And he replied, “Then every scribe who has been instructed in the kingdom of heaven is like the head of a household who brings from his storeroom both the new and the old.”

I spent last weekend on a silent retreat, which I described in part in my column at The Week when I returned. That focused more on the process of becoming silent and recollected and its salutary effects on me in a non-spiritual sense, in how it helps with focus and priorities in an age of digital addiction. The humility of realizing that the world spins on without you is one important lesson that these retreats give us, but it’s not the most important. One could spend a long weekend drinking in Aruba without a cellphone and laptop and make that same realization, although it would cost a lot more money and would probably produce a lot more temptation than an Ignatian retreat. One does not need to worry about hangovers at a Jesuit center, after all.

The key to a successful Ignatian retreat is commitment. The discipline of silence helps in this in a couple of ways. First, it gives an outward sign of that commitment, because it isn’t easy to accomplish. Our cultural training leans heavily on polite communication as a means of socialization, and it’s difficult to resist the urge to say “thank you” when someone holds a door or to say a friendly “hello” on seeing people. And it’s not uncommon, despite all best efforts, to occasionally hear someone slip.

The most important commitment of silence in the retreat is between yourself and God, and in some ways it’s not just about keeping your mouth shut. In fact, physical silence the easiest part of the pact of silence. There are other levels of silence where the effort becomes much more difficult — mental silence and spiritual silence. And these do not come easily.

The idea of the retreat – any retreat, silent or not — is to withdraw from the busy-ness of life to focus on prayer and the Lord in a manner than cannot be accomplished otherwise. The Carmelites have a convent adjacent to the Jesuit center where our retreat took place; they made a commitment to give their whole lives for that kind of contemplation and prayer. (Needless to say, that gives us three-days-plus pretenders another dimension of humility.) In order to succeed, we have to clear our minds of outside attachments, plans, and concerns. We could stay silent all weekend contemplating the business deal we have to make on our return, and all that accomplishes is a weekend at Aruba without, y’know, Aruba. We’d have been better off at home leaving the phone off the hook and not answering the door.

Mental silence has another dimension, one which took me three retreats to learn. On my first two retreats, I brought faith-related reading material to fill the time, such as commentaries on the Gospel and books on Revelation and the Mass, and so on. The center itself has a small but respectable library of excellent reading material to peruse and study. There is a place for that kind of reading when one has fully immersed in prayer, but that’s not what I was doing on the first two retreats. I was using the reading as a way to avoid the deep contemplation that the retreat provided; in essence, procrastinating away a golden opportunity. Only when I put down the readings did I get a sense of that connection, and on this retreat I rarely opened a book at all — and when I did, it was much more rewarding.

Spiritual silence is even more difficult. Once I set down the outside cares of the world, the impulse to replace those with my own spiritual agenda becomes even more irresistible. When I began doing these retreats three years ago, I did so for a particular purpose of discernment, and that goal filled my thoughts and prayers. From God’s perspective, it must seem like having a child in the backseat on a long car trip who keeps wanting to know, “When will we get there?”  At least part of the point in a retreat is the drive itself, and the failure of spiritual silence of this kind is sticking with our own agenda rather than allowing God to be in the driver’s seat. The lack of immediate and direct answers might be God’s way of saying, “We’ll get there when we get there!” A failure to connect at the spiritual level can be caused by the impulse to fill silences, whether they be physical, mental, or spiritual.

The only way to make a good retreat is through an all-in commitment. We have to sell ourselves completely into the experience in order to succeed at connecting with the Lord, and we have to put our absolute trust in His will, and His agenda over our own. After all, we get so few opportunities to spend that kind of alone time with Jesus Christ in the busyness of our world that failing to make that commitment is, in a very real sense, reburying the treasure to go count our own money instead and letting someone else buy the field.

Today’s Gospel makes it clear that the faith requires that level of buy-in, and of trust. What happens when the man finds that field with the buried treasure, or when the merchant finds that pearl of great price? They sell all they have to acquire them. Today’s responsorial in Psalm 119 tells us that “The law of your mouth is to me more precious than thousands of gold and silver pieces.” Our first reading from 1 Kings 3 today tells of Solomon’s dream of God telling the new king that he can ask whatever he wants, and instead of riches and power, Solomon asks for God’s wisdom in his heart so that he can be a truly good and faithful leader of God’s people. These two passages show that faith means trust in God, and in His will for us over our own agendas. When we come to Him in that sense of trust and put him in the driver’s seat, then we open ourselves to Him in a manner which allows true communication and communion.

All we need to do is quiet ourselves and allow God to speak to us, and He’s waiting for the opportunity to do so. How much are we willing to give up to buy that pearl of great price? Putting my own agenda aside for a few short days in the country every July seems like a low price indeed.


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:-)

pambi on July 27, 2014 at 12:19 PM

Next time Ed, if you can try the Cistercians, similar environment but with better theology. The Jesuits of today are not the same as they were in the days of St. Ignatius of Loyola.

celtic warrior on July 27, 2014 at 12:21 PM

Shhhh

Schadenfreude on July 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM

We have to sell ourselves completely into the experience in order to succeed at connecting with the Lord, and we have to put our absolute trust in His will, and His agenda over our own. After all, we get so few opportunities to spend that kind of alone time with Jesus Christ in the busyness of our world that failing to make that commitment is, in a very real sense, reburying the treasure to go count our own money instead and letting someone else buy the field.

It is not so much putting aside your agenda as it is aligning it more fully to the discerned Agenda. Your agenda included a retreat — an attempt to more closely seek the Lord. Always will you, by the very nature of the free will granted as both gift and tribulation by God, have your own personal ethos/morality/agenda. Elements of that are evil only to the extent that they are counter to the ideas expressed in Scripture and Tradition. Such is part of the standing firm expressed in 2 Thessalonians.

Thank you for this post, Ed.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 12:38 PM

It is not so much putting aside your agenda as it is aligning it more fully to the discerned Agenda.

Good point.

Also, this was late today because I’m on the West Coast this week. Next week’s reflection will likely be up at noon ET too.

Ed Morrissey on July 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Ed, an informal homily I listened to today reiterated your sentiment from Psalm 46-10: be still and know I am God, or in another translation, let go of noise and know that I AM.

I love the “let go”.

So much of coming to know the Lord is letting go; of our fears, of our perceived strengths, of our agendas and decisions. What is wonderful is that only within that great paradox do we see straight truth; To submit is to become free.

Despite my best intentions, I clasp my plans and intentions firmly to my chest, ignoring God’s plans for me (which seem so chancy- surely if He would just take my advice, things would work out better.)

I have such a hard time being still.

Dolce Far Niente on July 27, 2014 at 12:47 PM

All we need to do is quiet ourselves and allow God to speak to us, and He’s waiting for the opportunity to do so. How much are we willing to give up to buy that pearl of great price? Putting my own agenda aside for a few short days in the country every July seems like a low price indeed.

Your commentary reminds me of a bumper sticker I saw recently….

If God is your co-pilot, change seats.

Happy Nomad on July 27, 2014 at 1:03 PM

All we need to do is quiet ourselves and allow God to speak to us

IMHO we have to quiet down so we can hear him.

dogsoldier on July 27, 2014 at 1:16 PM

Thank you so much, Ed, for this helpful, true and beautiful reflection. And thank you also to those who commented here. Also very helpful and insightful.

“May it be your Holy Will, . . . .” It’s hard to pray that way at all times. It’s hard to live that way at all times. To “let go” and “trust in Him always” and align our “agenda” to His. His plan is always better than our plan, in the end. We need these reminders from our brothers and sisters. I need these reminders.

I thank you all very much for your comments. I appreciate our connection here and throughout the whole world. United in faith. That to me is the “pearl of great price.” More precious to each of us is our faith and our family.

Love to each of you. God bless you all and your families.

Please pray for my father this week. He has a procedure this Friday on his urinary left tube and we are hoping it is God’s Will that it is not cancer or that he is healed and without much suffering. He is a strong and good man. 82 yrs old.

Elisa on July 27, 2014 at 1:46 PM

Or as one commentary put it: We are the pearls and Jesus gave it all to secure us.

crosshugger on July 27, 2014 at 1:53 PM

Real men love Jesus.

crosshugger on July 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

“The kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys that field…………..I had trouble understanding the parable….I realize it discusses sorting good from bad….I didn’t understand selling everything to buy something else….

clandestine on July 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

.I didn’t understand selling everything to buy something else….

clandestine on July 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Look at it in terms of personal priorities, and then it begins to make sense. The merchant sees the pearl of great price, and the price is equal to everything else he owns, but the value to him is far greater.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM

Real men love Jesus.

crosshugger on July 27, 2014 at 1:54 PM

.
Aw yeah . . . . .

. . . . . but they still won’t stop and ask for directions.

listens2glenn on July 27, 2014 at 2:26 PM

.I didn’t understand selling everything to buy something else….

clandestine on July 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Look at it in terms of personal priorities, and then it begins to make sense. The merchant sees the pearl of great price, and the price is equal to everything else he owns, but the value to him is far greater.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I interpret it a bit differently.

Here we are offered something of incomparable worth; what are we willing to sacrifice to gain it?

Everything?
Having then given absolutely everything for this treasure, this pearl, are we now poor or are we rich beyond measure?

The world says we are poor, and crazy to boot.

Dolce Far Niente on July 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

. . . . . but they still won’t stop and ask for directions.

listens2glenn on July 27, 2014 at 2:26 PM

Psshh. Christopher Columbus was lost, didn’t stop and ask for directions and look what he found. :)

I make a joke, but only to make a point–if you stay on a righteous path, you will eventually find what you seek. Along that path, there may be many difficult trials of your resolve and faith. Furthermore, if you do stay on the righteous path and find peace, be prepared for what you find to be completely different from what you expected.

“Take up your cross, and follow me,” He said.

Conservative Mischief on July 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

Shhhh

Schadenfreude on July 27, 2014 at 12:34 PM

Heh. I almost posted “Quiet.”

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 3:39 PM

.I didn’t understand selling everything to buy something else….

clandestine on July 27, 2014 at 2:04 PM

Look at it in terms of personal priorities, and then it begins to make sense. The merchant sees the pearl of great price, and the price is equal to everything else he owns, but the value to him is far greater.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 2:12 PM

I interpret it a bit differently.

Here we are offered something of incomparable worth; what are we willing to sacrifice to gain it?

Everything?
Having then given absolutely everything for this treasure, this pearl, are we now poor or are we rich beyond measure?

The world says we are poor, and crazy to boot.

Dolce Far Niente on July 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

The irony of it is, the Pearl of Great Price, the Treasure in the Field, costs us nothing. Jesus was the One Who sold everything.

1“Come, everyone who is thirsty,

come to the waters;

and you without money,

come, buy, and eat!

Come, buy wine and milk

without money and without cost!

2Why do you spend money on what is not food,

and your wages on what does not satisfy?

Listen carefully to Me, and eat what is good,

and you will enjoy the choicest of foods.

3Pay attention and come to Me;

listen, so that you will live.

I will make an everlasting covenant with you,

the promises assured to David.

4Since I have made him a witness to the peoples,

a leader and commander for the peoples,

5so you will summon a nation you do not know,

and nations who do not know you will run to you.

For the LORD your God,

even the Holy One of Israel,

has glorified you.”

6Seek the LORD while He may be found;

call to Him while He is near.

7Let the wicked one abandon his way

and the sinful one his thoughts;

let him return to the LORD,

so He may have compassion on him,

and to our God, for He will freely forgive.

8“For My thoughts are not your thoughts,

and your ways are not My ways.”

This is the LORD’s declaration.

9“For as heaven is higher than earth,

so My ways are higher than your ways,

and My thoughts than your thoughts.

10For just as rain and snow fall from heaven

and do not return there

without saturating the earth

and making it germinate and sprout,

and providing seed to sow

and food to eat,

11so My word that comes from My mouth

will not return to Me empty,

but it will accomplish what I please

and will prosper in what I send it to do.”

12You will indeed go out with joy

and be peacefully guided;

the mountains and the hills will break into singing before you,

and all the trees of the field will clap their hands.

13Instead of the thornbush, a cypress will come up,

and instead of the brier, a myrtle will come up;

it will make a name for Yahweh

as an everlasting sign that will not be destroyed.

Isaiah 55

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

The field represents the world. The treasure in the field represents Israel. We cannot buy our salvation.. but the Bible says we were the ones bought with a price. Jesus wanted the treasure in the field.. so he bought the whole world with His death on the cross.

JellyToast on July 27, 2014 at 4:31 PM

Citing federal regulations, the Missouri National Guard has refused to show up for an hour-long meet-and-greet with kids at a small Baptist church in the rural southwest corner of the state.

The kerfuffle went down during this summer’s vacation Bible school at Bible Baptist Church in Carthage, Mo., reports Fox News.

Vacation Bible school is sort of a rite of passage in the region — as common locally in the summertime as fireworks on the Fourth of July and sticky, sunny days.

For this year’s version, part of the Bible Baptist Church’s theme was “God’s Rescue Squad.” So, on Monday, some paramedics stopped by. On Tuesday, it was firefighters. On Wednesday, it was some lawmen and K-9 dogs from the Jasper County sheriff’s department.

Members of the Missouri National Guard were scheduled for a Thursday appearance (in a Humvee), but they failed to show up because, they said, federal regulations prevent military activities that could appear to endorse any religious or sectarian faction.

“We were told it was against military policy for National Guard troops to participate in Vacation Bible School,” the pastor told Fox News. “They said if the National Guard had assets on church property it would look like the National Guard is sponsoring the Baptist religion.”

Interestingly, this June, the U.S. Department of Defense allowed an American military color guard to march in the annual gay pride parade in Washington, D.C.

Similarly, in 2012, the Defense Department overrode the Defense Department’s specific rules against uniformed service members’ participation in political events to allow uniformed service members to march in San Diego’s gay pride parade.

Speaking on condition of anonymity, local members of the National Guard expressed disgust with the decision to prohibit their appearance at a local church.

“I can tell you I’m ashamed and embarrassed right now,” one soldier told Fox.

“We had a lot of disappointed kiddos because of the National Guard being unwilling to allow a Humvee and a few soldiers to spend an hour at a Baptist church,” another soldier said. “It makes me wonder what I’m actually fighting for.”

http://dailycaller.com/2014/07/26/national-guard-wont-allow-its-own-troops-to-be-honored-at-vacation-bible-school/#ixzz38hdsHZDm

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 4:34 PM

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

.
One of my FAVORITE Don Francisco songs.

listens2glenn on July 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Also, this was late today because I’m on the West Coast this week. Next week’s reflection will likely be up at noon ET too.

Ed Morrissey on July 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

Ed is suffering from ‘net lag.

JetBoy on July 27, 2014 at 4:41 PM

Also, this was late today because I’m on the West Coast this week. Next week’s reflection will likely be up at noon ET too.

Ed Morrissey on July 27, 2014 at 12:41 PM

.
Ed is suffering from ‘net lag.

JetBoy on July 27, 2014 at 4:41 PM

.
GROOOOOOAAAAAAN

listens2glenn on July 27, 2014 at 4:47 PM

listens2glenn on July 27, 2014 at 4:38 PM

Good one.

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 5:00 PM

Interestingly, this June, the U.S. Department of Defense allowed an American military color guard to march in the annual gay pride parade in Washington, D.C.

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 4:34 PM

Well, everybody knows that celebrating perversion is a federal grant of authority in the constitution. National security demands that the fed govt protect perversion above all else so it makes sense the military would be involved.

The border, not so much.

platypus on July 27, 2014 at 5:21 PM

I follow the Latin Rite, and the Gospel today was different. It was about bewaring of false prophets. A great lesson.

But of even more interest, though unrelated to Ed’s post, was our priest held up a sheet of paper that had an Arabic symbol on it for the letter “N.” He pointed out that this symbol was being placed on the homes of Christians in Iraq and Syria to identify them as “Nazarenes.” Father encouraged us to make copies of this symbol and place it in the windows of our homes, cars, wherever we could to show our support for the persecuted Christians in the Mid East.

I am sick and tired of the world crapping on Christians.I have the symbol displayed on my front door for the world to see. I wear a crucifix outside my shirt for the world to see. I will no longer hide what I am to avoid “offending” non-Christians, or even non-Catholics. The false prophets have encouraged us to walk softly, to hide what we are. Reject their rotten fruit.

Let the world know that we won’t go silently. I will turn the other cheek to a point, but beyond that, when it becomes a question of life, or death, no more. There is a time for peace, and a time for war.

Ed, I don’t mean to harsh your mellow. What you are finding is something a lot of people search for, and fail. But the dogs of war are howling for our brethren in the Mid East. They nip at our heels here and grow bolder and bolder, making noises that even in the US of A, we should be silenced and suppressed.

No more.

Kraken on July 27, 2014 at 7:39 PM

davidk on July 27, 2014 at 3:48 PM

If that were the case, everyone would own it. The road to salvation would have millions of lanes and no speed limit.

So no, it is not free. You have to pay a price, and that price is all that you selfishly hold. It is you reordering your personal priorities, and accepting the Guide. And, as Jesus tells us, not everyone will do that. In fact, if I get what He is saying correctly, a small minority of us will do that.

Think of the rich young man who asked what more he should do, and could not abide the answer. The yoke sure seemed heavy when he looked at it….

From the standpoint of those rooted in this world, that pearl is dearly bought indeed.

And all of us, save One, are rooted in this world.

But with God all things are possible.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

The world says we are poor, and crazy to boot.

Dolce Far Niente on July 27, 2014 at 2:51 PM

That was my point. You have to reorder your priorities. Until you do, the gift is worthless, but once you see the world properly, the gift is more valuable than everything you own.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 8:47 PM

So no, it is not free. You have to pay a price, and that price is all that you selfishly hold. It is you reordering your personal priorities, and accepting the Guide. And, as Jesus tells us, not everyone will do that. In fact, if I get what He is saying correctly, a small minority of us will do that.

Think of the rich young man who asked what more he should do, and could not abide the answer. The yoke sure seemed heavy when he looked at it….

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

John 4:10 Jesus answered and said unto her, If thou knewest the gift of God, and who it is that saith to thee, Give me to drink; thou wouldest have asked of him, and he would have given thee living water. 

Romans 5:14 Nevertheless death reigned from Adam to Moses, even over them that had not sinned after the similitude of Adam’s transgression, who is the figure of him that was to come.15 But not as the offence, so also is the free gift. For if through the offence of one many be dead, much more the grace of God, and the gift by grace, which is by one man, Jesus Christ, hath abounded unto many. 16 And not as it was by one that sinned, so is the gift: for the judgment was by one to condemnation, but the free gift is of many offences unto justification.
17 For if by one man’s offence death reigned by one; much more they which receive abundance of grace and of the gift of righteousness shall reign in life by one, Jesus Christ.) 18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life. 19 For as by one man’s disobedience many were made sinners, so by the obedience of one shall many be made righteous.

Romans 6:23 For the wages of sin is death; but the gift of God is eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord.

Eph 2:8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: 9 not of works, lest any man should boast.

If it must be earned, it is not a gift, which makes all of these verses meaningless.

We cannot earn it, which is Christ’s point to the rich young ruler. He had imagined that he had done all to earn eternal life, but the law requires more of him – more than any man can possibly give – if he relies on his own works for salvation.

questionmark on July 27, 2014 at 9:33 PM

Ed, thanks for the weekly Sunday Reflections. So many much enjoy them.

This is kind of on topic. For years I practiced Hatha Yoga and a friend told me I needed to relax and learn to breathe correctly and that I should try restorative yoga. Practicing Yoga with props in the seated or supine position just to hold poses longer is for wimps, but I gave it a try.

First thing they do is dim the lights and you lay on a Yoga mat which is covered by a blanket. Then they put props under your knees, neck and arms; then put some silly smelly eye bag to provide more darkness.

For the next 30 minutes you are supposed to clear your mind, breathe correctly, and relax. Piece of cake and silly if you ask me. Well, after 3 minutes every joint in my body was sore and my neck started hurting. After 5 minutes I gave up and had to sit up. Who knew that being relaxed both physically and mentally was such hard work? Took me two years to learn how to relax and I never knew what a state of stress we are in while leading our normal day to day life; until I learned to relax.

Sounds like you had a great trip, but the no talking thing. I would go nuts.

HonestLib on July 28, 2014 at 9:30 AM

So no, it is not free.

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 8:22 PM

the gift … the gift

unclesmrgol on July 27, 2014 at 8:47 PM

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:27 PM

questionmark on July 27, 2014 at 9:33 PM

I see what you’re saying here, but I would say that there is a deeper and more fuller sense of Grace that truly is a gift from God, but it has little to do with the salvation of man through faith alone. Faith alone cannot be oversimplified any more than it already asserts – for the record, I do not subscribe to this pretext. There is no such thing, for me, as salvation from faith alone. Faith, works, and grace are the full package. An usher that attends Mass each Sunday, but pockets the loose change from the collections demonstrates faith and works, but lacks in grace. Grace must be earned by suitably demonstrating proper ownership of the gift.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

ن

But of even more interest, though unrelated to Ed’s post, was our priest held up a sheet of paper that had an Arabic symbol on it for the letter “N.” He pointed out that this symbol was being placed on the homes of Christians in Iraq and Syria to identify them as “Nazarenes.”

Kraken on July 27, 2014 at 7:39 PM

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:47 PM

ن

But of even more interest, though unrelated to Ed’s post, was our priest held up a sheet of paper that had an Arabic symbol on it for the letter “N.” He pointed out that this symbol was being placed on the homes of Christians in Iraq and Syria to identify them as “Nazarenes.”

Kraken on July 27, 2014 at 7:39 PM

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:48 PM

Grace must be earned by suitably demonstrating proper ownership of the gift.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

The late Dallas Willard use to say, “Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.”

An important distinction.

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:55 PM

An important distinction.

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:55 PM

a fallacy – actually. I believe I provided example. You won’t agree if you are a sola fide advocate. I won’t force you. Leave it at that.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 5:09 PM

We cannot earn it, which is Christ’s point to the rich young ruler. He had imagined that he had done all to earn eternal life, but the law requires more of him – more than any man can possibly give – if he relies on his own works for salvation.

questionmark on July 27, 2014 at 9:33 PM

.
I see what you’re saying here, but I would say that there is a deeper and more fuller sense of Grace that truly is a gift from God, but it has little to do with the salvation of man through faith alone. Faith alone cannot be oversimplified any more than it already asserts – for the record, I do not subscribe to this pretext. There is no such thing, for me, as salvation from faith alone. Faith, works, and grace are the full package. An usher that attends Mass each Sunday, but pockets the loose change from the collections demonstrates faith and works, but lacks in grace. Grace must be earned by suitably demonstrating proper ownership of the gift.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM
.

The late Dallas Willard use to say, “Grace is opposed to earning, not to effort.”

An important distinction.

davidk on July 28, 2014 at 4:55 PM

.
a fallacy – actually. I believe I provided example. You won’t agree if you are a sola fide advocate. I won’t force you. Leave it at that.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 5:09 PM

.
What’s your take on Acts 4:32 through 5:11 ?

Did Ananias and Sapphira go to hell ?
.
What’s your take on I Corinthians 5:1-5 ?
The man Paul was making reference to in I Corinthians 5:1-5 did eventually repent [II Corinthians 2: 5-11], but what if he hadn’t ? … Would he have gone to hell ?

listens2glenn on July 28, 2014 at 8:38 PM

Grace must be earned by suitably demonstrating proper ownership of the gift.
ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 4:38 PM

The best description of grace is “unmerited favor.” We CANNOT earn it.

Romans4:4 Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt.

Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then is it no more of works: otherwise grace is no more grace. But if it be of works, then is it no more grace: otherwise work is no more work.

Salvation, through regeneration, justification, and sanctification, is performed upon man by the Grace of God.
Good works are produced as a result of God’s grace working in man, and give evidence of salvation, but do not earn it.

questionmark on July 28, 2014 at 9:40 PM

What’s your take on Acts 4:32 through 5:11 ?

My take is that this is in line with the teachings of Jesus. In a nutshell, man cannot serve two masters.

Did Ananias and Sapphira go to hell ?

I honestly do not know if Ananias and Sapphira went to hell. If I told the Holy Spirit a boldfaced lie, I would have to equate that to sheer denial of God. I hear tell that denial is a one-way ticket. I also understand that changing your mind is exactly what the last minute is instituted for.

What’s your take on I Corinthians 5:1-5 ?

You are almost answering your own question. Satan prowls the earth in our souls – if we allow him in. If he does enter, he can be evicted if we want him out. Our balance with Grace keeps watch over our souls from satan’s servitude. Full confession removes the shame of sin and once shame is removed the shame is no longer available to satan to torture you with. Full confession increases your level of Grace.

Revisit what shame is from its earliest definitions. Adam and Eve were shamed and God placed them outside of Eden. They did not go to hell – did they? Miriam insulted God’s choice of Moses and lied saying she was upset with Moses’s chosen Bride. God made her stay outside of the camp for seven days. I don’t think she went to hell. Consider the expression “beyond the pale.” A pale is a fence at the outer limits of a Church yard. Beyond that fence, so to speak, is outside of the realm of acceptability for the Church. Shame is sin that takes you outside of the mainstream, but is not equivalent with denial.

questionmark on July 28, 2014 at 9:40 PM

I’m not biting. I’ve seen this landfill before.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

I’m not biting. I’ve seen this landfill before.

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

No problem. Feel free to skip the landfill of my words and address the scriptures presented.

Or not.

Nothing but a conversation.

questionmark on July 28, 2014 at 10:43 PM

ericdijon on July 28, 2014 at 10:15 PM

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I submit to you that neither Ananias, Sapphira, or that anonymous man mentioned in both letters to the Corinthians are separated from God.
I submit to you that the ONLY action/”works” necessary to fulfill a persons faith (that Jesus Christ was sacrificed for them personally, and was raised from the dead for them personally) is accepting Jesus Christ by spoken word (primary), “hand-signing”, or writing it down.

Once you have expressed that faith, you have a personal relationship with God, forever … unless you make a conscious, cognitive decision to throw it away [Heb 6:4-6, I John 5:16-17].
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If anyone has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD, but still continues to live like the devil … they won’t lose their relationship with God, because of it.

They’ll still go to heaven when they die … in fact, they’ll probably get there much quicker.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM

No problem. Feel free to skip the landfill of my words and address the scriptures presented.
Or not.
Nothing but a conversation.

questionmark on July 28, 2014 at 10:43 PM

That’s clever. I’ll address L2G’s first. Though I previously did so, I was pithy and maybe a might too pithy. L2G cites passages and introduces topic for discussion with questions. I will respond with a passage. The passage well addresses all the points L2G seeks direction on.

Mark 3
23 Summoning them, he began to speak to them in parables, “How can Satan drive out Satan? 24 If a kingdom is divided against itself, that kingdom cannot stand. 25 And if a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand. 26 And if Satan has risen up against himself and is divided, he cannot stand; that is the end of him. 27 But no one can enter a strong man’s house to plunder his property unless he first ties up the strong man. Then he can plunder his house. 28 Amen, I say to you, all sins and all blasphemies that people utter will be forgiven them. 29 But whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit 11 will never have forgiveness, but is guilty of an everlasting sin.”

In contrast, you do not cite passages. You cite individual verses that you assert are scriptural. Given that liberty, I can say that the individual word “said” is scripture as well. In my Bible, ‘said’ is used 3,246 times. Your verse is only used once. Your single verse and my single word cannot stand because they have become divided from their context. I cannot fight wars with bible swords as I see no spiritual gain from the effort exerted. Bible swords are pointless, but especially so if there is no topic introduced to take application of them. That is a landfill filled with gotcha’s.

You seem to be hung up on the gift of grace. My first comment to you asserted that I was clarifying what you were bible swording. I guess I provoked you. The meaning and quality of grace is not revealed by bible verses. If that were actually true, then there would be no knowledge of grace before any bible canon was developed and grace would be stuck in a time intolerant and ignorant of grace formed from moralistic advances as a component of time. No one would fault the Good Samaritan if he ignored the 52 Buick that was on the side of the road unless the year was complementary to an era where automobiles were commonplace. At the time of the parable, grace is infused, at the time of the Buick, grace is diminished. Grace is not a static thing but is quite elastic.

Through the gift of grace, God is a guest of our minds to the extent we allow him in our heart. Grace pours into our souls in the Sacraments. The glory of Heaven is the final fruit of the seed of grace, the reward of our actions from principles of grace. Grace does not belong to us – it is thrust upon us. God would not stack the deck against anyone. The evil one can only tempt man for as long as God allows. Our resistance shown to evil earns us more grace. To the level we trust in God, God gives and takes away from us the tools we need to increase our grace. By Christ’s Passion, he has merited for us the grace that leads us to salvation in the vision of God. It is Jesus who distributes God’s grace to men, through His Church. God made us in a way that it is possible for us to increase our grace because of our humanity. Our acceptance of the sacraments channels sanctifying and God’s grace into our souls.

A few readers will easily recognize the preceding words in the paragraph directly above to be those of a far greater author. The words are truths presented in the Summa Theologica – paraphrased, of course. It is not possible to form the entire basis of morality on the words in the bible. It is possible to get direction, but sola scriptura in fact denies itself as being valid. 3… 2… 1 – can of worms.

ericdijon on July 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

ericdijon on July 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

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We would have to hi-jack the the next several “Sunday reflection” threads, for you begin to give me a clear mental picture of most of what you just said.
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That doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re wrong … that only means my head is spinning, after reading that.
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Apparently we’re never gonna agree on “sola scriptura”.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Once you have expressed that faith, you have a personal relationship with God, forever … unless you make a conscious, cognitive decision to throw it away [Heb 6:4-6, I John 5:16-17].
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If anyone has accepted Jesus Christ as Savior and LORD, but still continues to live like the devil … they won’t lose their relationship with God, because of it.

They’ll still go to heaven when they die … in fact, they’ll probably get there much quicker.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM

I disagree with your interpretation of those verses.

Once you’ve received it, I don’t believe you can throw your salvation away, even if you think you can. Has to do with becoming a new creature in Christ, and how the immediate spiritual transformation which occurs when a person is saved happens on a level we humans cannot affect, no matter how much we want to believe we can. And we should thank God that we can’t. =)

non-nonpartisan on July 29, 2014 at 2:03 PM

Apparently we’re never gonna agree on “sola scriptura”.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2014 at 1:30 PM

Catholics and Protestants will never agree on what it takes to be saved. And that isn’t the only issue which they cannot bridge.

non-nonpartisan on July 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM

In contrast, you do not cite passages. You cite individual verses that you assert are scriptural. Given that liberty, I can say that the individual word “said” is scripture as well. In my Bible, ‘said’ is used 3,246 times. Your verse is only used once. Your single verse and my single word cannot stand because they have become divided from their context.

Presenting a verse on its own does not necessarily constitute dividing it from its context.

So as to avoid the charge of “bible swording,” please let me assure you that I am more than willing to contemplate an explanation of those verses within context, and how I have used them improperly.

You seem to be hung up on the gift of grace.
The meaning and quality of grace is not revealed by bible verses. If that were actually true, then there would be no knowledge of grace before any bible canon was developed and grace would be stuck in a time intolerant and ignorant of grace formed from moralistic advances as a component of time.

I am absolutely hung up on grace. And thankful for grace. And jealous for grace. Which is why I brought out the verses that I cited.
Grace and works have their proper place, but Paul is very clear about cause and effect here.

Grace is only truly valued by those upon whom it is bestowed, and by The God who bestows it.
In the sense that mere words on paper cannot convey Grace anymore than reading Moby Dick can soak you with salty water you are correct about what the Bible reveals about grace.
However, scripture quite clearly raises a standard by which the children of God measure all things.

On that basis, to assert that grace can be earned is to deprive it of its Biblical meaning.

It is possible to get direction, but sola scriptura in fact denies itself as being valid. 3… 2… 1 – can of worms.
ericdijon on July 29, 2014 at 10:33 AM

For myself, the concept of sola scriptura is what I stated previously, and can be contained in the phrase “the final rule of faith and practice.” Truth certainly exists outside of the Bible, but where there is conflict, Scripture is the controlling authority.

If that is not the case then it matters little whether one swords about with verses, does it?

Thank you for taking the time to clarify your thoughts, and may God bless you.

questionmark on July 29, 2014 at 6:04 PM

Presenting a verse on its own does not necessarily constitute dividing it from its context.

questionmark on July 29, 2014 at 6:04 PM

I suspect that was exactly the very thought going through Luther’s head while he edited Scripture to conform it to his thoughts.

I appreciate the faith you people have and I don’t want to discourage your love of your faith by any stretch of the imagination. I am following a different way and I am not aware of any bridge that the old needs to extend to the new. If there is a bridge that is needed, there is a sturdy destination to connect it up to when it is built.

ericdijon on July 29, 2014 at 9:38 PM

Apparently we’re never gonna agree on “sola scriptura”.

listens2glenn on July 29, 2014 at 1:30 PM

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Catholics and Protestants will never agree on what it takes to be saved. And that isn’t the only issue which they cannot bridge.

non-nonpartisan on July 29, 2014 at 2:06 PM

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But it’s only the single most important issue for the Church as a whole, to agree on.

Whatever else we get wrong in our earthly walk of life, can be taken care of later, with the LORD.

But if you fail to be ‘born again’, there won’t be a “later, with the LORD.”

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 12:25 AM

But it’s only the single most important issue for the Church as a whole, to agree on.

When someone rationally explains how you must work to receive and then keep a free gift, I’ll believe they are preaching the same Gospel I understand.

If it comes with strings attached, a present isn’t a free gift. I don’t know why this is so hard for some to understand. Actually, when I think about it, I do.

Whatever else we get wrong in our earthly walk of life, can be taken care of later, with the LORD.

But if you fail to be ‘born again’, there won’t be a “later, with the LORD.”

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 12:25 AM

I don’t presume that. I am not sure how it all works out in the end. I do trust, and know even, that God is just and fair, and that’s what I concern myself with. It’s all in good hands with Him. =)

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

But it’s only the single most important issue for the Church as a whole, to agree on.

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 12:25 AM

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When someone rationally explains how you must work to receive and then keep a free gift, I’ll believe they are preaching the same Gospel I understand.

If it comes with strings attached, a present isn’t a free gift. I don’t know why this is so hard for some to understand. Actually, when I think about it, I do.

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

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HOLD IT ! … STOP THE CAR … ( tires screeching ) …

I TOTALLY agree with all of that … so what was it again, that we disagreed over ?
.

Whatever else we get wrong in our earthly walk of life, can be taken care of later, with the LORD.

But if you fail to be ‘born again’, there won’t be a “later, with the LORD.”

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 12:25 AM

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I don’t presume that. I am not sure how it all works out in the end. I do trust, and know even, that God is just and fair, and that’s what I concern myself with. It’s all in good hands with Him. =)

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

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As long as we can agree that the phrase “basically a good person” doesn’t appear, nor is implied anywhere in the Bible, we’re mostly on the same page (there’s always some minor differences, ’cause not everyone is as perfect as I am).

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 10:36 AM

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 8:23 AM

No strings attached at all, just Words to live by.

It is not work to receive, it is work to keep. Why oversimplify? God gives you your soul. Is not your soul a free gift? Your soul has no struggles with the evil one? You are no slave to anything? Is your life a gift from God?

Perhaps you profess the Apostle’s Creed. I bring this to light because the Creed is a liturgical work primarily based on the theological understanding of the “Books” bound in the New Testament, and because I’m going to cite a SINGLE SENTENCE from the Creed. You may use a different phrasing, but essentially “he will come to judge the living and the dead” unquestionably and inarguably defines the single most important tenet of how we must live our lives.

You can’t tell me that on the day you received your soul that heaven or hell were predetermined for you any more convincingly that you can say once saved always saved. Both these notions deprive Jesus of any iota of opportunity to judge the living and the dead. If life after death is where our quest takes us, you should pray for your own death the minute you commit to being saved and pray that you proceed to heaven. Explain how judging the living and the dead is not monitoring the fluctuating quality and intensity of the gift of grace.

Let’s say you get a gun as a free gift. You love that gun. You keep the gun with you at all times. You find a place to keep it safe and clean. Evil is constantly looking for darkness in you. You can’t help yourself from using the gun inappropriately. The gun is taken away from you, but you still love that gun and you still have that place where you would keep it. You ask and pray for forgiveness for offending God and you promise to use the gift appropriately. The forgiveness is granted and evil is denied that dark spot of your soul. The gun is returned to you. Silly as the example may sound, it has the essential elements children can process when they are instructed in the Divine and Sanctifying graces.

At the beginning of the public life of Jesus, he read from Isaiah. He announced that the Spirit of the Lord is upon him – an increase of grace – no? He also said something about those who can hear getting fulfilled – no increase of grace there, right??? – not. This hearing thing expands by adding seeing and doing and these efforts (or works) are well addressed in parables. Earlier, L2G asked if Ananias and Sapphira went to hell. That couple lied to the Holy Spirit. They died instantly. Is that not a loss of the gift of your life? Could it be a loss of grace? Could it be the fell from the free gift they had been given?

Evangelizing. Is that not a work showing others how you live to make your way into the Kingdom? Evangelizing is not an act of increasing grace?

Habits. We fall into bad ones and work to have good ones. We fall into sin and work for forgiveness. Bad habits are perches for the evil one; good habits are often very difficult slogs to master. Does this illustrate the ebb and flow of graces? Marriage – a Sacrament – an increase of grace / Divorce, Adultery, Lust – are they not decreases of grace and disrespect of sacraments?
If you do not work so that your cup runneth over, then you are not someone to increase the talents the master has asked you to tend over.

ericdijon on July 30, 2014 at 1:51 PM

As long as we can agree that the phrase “basically a good person” doesn’t appear, nor is implied anywhere in the Bible, we’re mostly on the same page (there’s always some minor differences, ’cause not everyone is as perfect as I am).

listens2glenn on July 30, 2014 at 10:36 AM

On one occasion an expert in the law stood up to test Jesus. “Teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”

“What is written in the Law?” He replied. “How do you read it?”

He answered, “ ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind’; and, ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’”

“You have answered correctly,” Jesus replied. “Do this and you will live.” -Luke 10:25-28

People who are basically good love the Lord, I think you agree. Who these specific people are are known to God. And they show their love for God by how they love others.

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 8:16 PM

No strings attached at all, just Words to live by.

It is not work to receive, it is work to keep. Why oversimplify?

This understanding doesn’t make any sense to someone who believes in the “simple” Gospel. I don’t believe I’m guilty of oversimplifying, I think it’s that you’re guilty of complexifying, and of seeing the situation unspiritually.

You don’t work to keep the “free gift” of Salvation, which involves a spiritual transformation that Scripture says cannot be undone. Once you’ve truly accepted this gift, it won’t ever be taken back by the Giver.

You can’t tell me that on the day you received your soul that heaven or hell were predetermined for you any more convincingly that you can say once saved always saved.

I don’t believe you’re open to, “Once saved, always saved,” because it goes against your dogma. You think Salvation is a goal which must be worked towards, while I believe, and know even, it is a permanent, internalized gift which is to be worked out.

My view makes more sense when looking at the NT in toto, and is definitely more pleasant, because I am freed from the enslaving uncertainty that it’s possible I might be rejected by Jesus at Judgement Day.

Both these notions deprive Jesus of any iota of opportunity to judge the living and the dead. If life after death is where our quest takes us, you should pray for your own death the minute you commit to being saved and pray that you proceed to heaven.

ericdijon on July 30, 2014 at 1:51 PM

I think you are being dangerously presumptive here. You’re not Jesus, you don’t understand Him or His ways as much as you seem to think, and you don’t speak for Him. It’s not your place.

non-nonpartisan on July 30, 2014 at 9:12 PM

Put out into deep water…

ericdijon on July 31, 2014 at 7:06 PM