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2018-06-24 Homily. Fr. François Beyrouti. "Are you saved?"

"Are you saved?" Sunday, June 24, 2018. Homily. Father François Beyrouti
5th Sunday After Pentecost

Epistle. Romans 10:1-10.
Prokimenon(Tone 4) Ps.103: 24, 1
How great are your works, O Lord!  In wisdom you have wrought them all.
Stichon: Bless the Lord, O my soul! You are very great indeed, O Lord my God!

A Reading from the Epistle of St. Paul to the Romans:
Brethren, my heart’s desire and my prayer to God in their behalf is for salvation. For I bear witness to them that they have zeal for God, but a zeal that is not informed. For ignorant of God’s holiness and seeking to establish their own, they have not submitted to the sanctification offered by God. For Christ is the consummation of the Law in terms of justification for everyone who believes. For Moses has written that the man who brings about that justification which is of the Law shall live by it. (Lv.18: 5) But the justification which is of faith says, Do not ask in your heart, who shall go up to heaven that is, -- to bring down Christ. Or, Who will descend into the abyss (Dt.30: 12) that is, to bring up Christ from the dead? But what does it say? The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart. (Dt.30: 14) that is, the word of faith which we preach. For if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is the Lord, and believe in your heart that God has raised him from the dead, you shall be saved. For a man believes with the heart and attains justification, but he professes his faith with his mouth and attains salvation.

Alleluia (Tone 4) Ps.44: 5, 8
String your bow, go forth, reign for the sake of truth, meekness and righteousness, and your right hand shall lead you wonderfully.

Stichon: You loved righteousness and hated iniquity: therefore God, your God, anointed you with the oil of joy above your companions.

“Are you saved?” “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” Someone may have asked you these important questions.

Before you answer these questions or anyone other question, make sure you clarify what the key words mean?

A man was getting baptized and the person baptizing him put his head in the water and asked: “Do you believe?” “I believe” the man said, after his head came out of the water. A second time, the person baptizing immersed the man in the water and said “Do you believe?” “Yes, I believe,” he said with an even louder voice, when he got his head out of the water. He dunked him again and this time asked “tell us what do you believe?” After he got out of the water and caught his breath, the man said: “I believe you are trying to drown me.”

In this story it makes a big difference how you are using the word “believe” and it always matters what we mean by the words we use.

Before we can answer “Are you saved?” or any related question about salvation, we have to ask “what is salvation?” And before we can answer “Have you accepted Jesus as your personal Lord and Savior?” we have to ask what the word “accept” means.  

Specifically, is “accepting” something you do and claim you have done in the past? Or is “accepting” something you have done, are currently doing, and will continue to do? The way we define the words “salvation” and “accept” can change the answer, change how we view God, and change how we view our spiritual responsibilities.

The word “salvation” is a very important one with regard to our faith, because the word “Jesus” literally means, “He who saves.” Jesus came to save us. But “What did He save us from?” and “What did He save us for?”

In the book of Genesis, we read how God created us in His image and likeness, but humanity turned away from God and disfigured the image of God. A lamp can have a good bulb and good wiring, but if you unplug it, then no more light will come from it. In a sense we can say that humanity unplugged itself from the light of God.

Genesis also shows us that although we are not always faithful to God, God never turns away from us. That is why God promised Adam and Eve to send a savior. Throughout the whole Old Testament people were waiting for the Messiah who would come and save them from the separation that took place when Adam and Eve turned away from God; when they unplugged themselves from God’s life.

Saint Paul explains salvation in his first letter to the Corinthians: “Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. [21] For since death came through a human being, the resurrection of the dead came also through a human being. [22] For just as in Adam all die, so too in Christ shall all be brought to life” (1 Corinthians 15:20-23).

However, this salvation from sin and death that Jesus accomplished through His death and resurrection does not mean we get a VIP pass to heaven. Salvation is not imposed on us. Rather we are invited to accept it and only takes place when we accept it.

In today’s letter of Saint Paul to the Romans, the word “salvation” appears three times. In verse one, Saint Paul says: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for them is that they may be saved” (10:1). Then in verses 9-10 he says: “If you confess with your lips that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. [10] For man believes with his heart and so is justified, and he confesses with his lips and so is saved.”  Therefore, the proper Catholic understanding of salvation is that we are saved by what Jesus did for us by taking on our humanity, by dying, and by rising from the dead.

Second, not only are we saved, but we are being saved when we accept that Christ died for us. He died for us and invites us to accept that salvation that cost Him His life, but that He freely gives everyone who accepts to believe in Him. Therefore, the answer to “are you saved?” is: We are saved, we are being saved, and we will be saved. Salvation is something that has happened, is happening, and will happen.

Yes, we are saved, because Jesus saved us through His death and resurrection. But, we cannot just say “we are saved” because of what Jesus did, we have to say “we are being saved” because we need to respond every day in a positive way to Jesus’s invitation. When we do this, we can be sure that “we will be saved” because we would have been faithful and await to hear from Jesus the words: “Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a little, I will set you over much; enter into the joy of your master” (Matt.25:23).

Today, let’s be practical in our thoughts on salvation. First, let us reflect on what Jesus has done for us. If we love someone we want to communicate with them by either reading what they write or by speaking with them. That is why it is important to read the Bible, which is God’s love letters to us and to pray which is how we speak with God and allow God to speak with us.

Second, we have to accept God’s gift of eternal life by specifically telling God that we do accept Him in our life and that we want to live our life according to His plan and will for us. We cannot live in a default mode, we have to choose our settings and repeatedly check them.

Third, we have to live like we mean it. Decide to do something practical and real that reflects what you believe. In short, if you are taken to court today for being a follower of Jesus, make sure there is plenty of evidence by your words, actions, and faith that Jesus has saved you, that Jesus is saving you, and that Jesus will save you.

Father François Beyrouti
Holy Cross Melkite Catholic Church
451 West Madison Avenue
Placentia, CA 92870-4537
Office: (714) 985-1710
My cell: (714) 914-1710
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