Good Friday, a reblog from last year. Blessings!
For your listening pleasure on this “Good Friday”:
When I was a little girl, I used to ponder how “Good Friday” got it’s name. What a horrible day, I thought, when an innocent man traded places with a guilty man and died a horrible death at the hands of those He came to teach and heal and love. As I grew, the Lord taught me, about goodness in the face of evil; a perfect sacrifice made for sin. And as I continue to grow, He continues to teach me about life through death, growth through obedience, and joy in suffering.
In the name of the Father (who gave His only Son), and the Son (who was obedient, even to death on a cross), and the Holy Spirit (who bears witness of the Son, and draws us to Himself). We are grateful.
First, for your listening and viewing pleasure, in the wise words of Rich Mullins via Saint James:
Many people believe, as my Protestant friend stated to me, that “Baptism falls into the ‘works’ category.”
I don’t see baptism (or feeding the poor, or loving my neighbor, or reading God’s word, etc.) as a “work” the same way that my friend does. Rather, because I have trusted in Jesus as my Savior, because I have placed my faith in His work on the cross, I see it in a different category, one of obedience to what He commands. In other words, it’s not either faith or works…but both/and (again) or more accurately, since/then.
Putting a label of “works” on things Scripture clearly commands does not exempt us from obedience….wait…is obedience a work of righteousness? If so, are we excused from obeying because it’s a work?
Of course not…in fact, according to Ephesians 2:8 and 9, the faith to believe in the first place is a gift from God. Since He gives me grace (unmerited favor) as well as the gift of faith to receive that grace, then my response is to do what He tells me to do…as I already addressed in my Baltimore Catechism post “what shall we do and how shall we know”. and Baptism and Salvation.
The Bible is clear that God’s children are rewarded for their obedience to faith. Consider…
For the Son of Man will come with his angels in his Father’s glory, and then he will repay everyone according to his conduct.
1 Cor 3:8
The one who plants and the one who waters are equal, and each will receive wages in proportion to his labor.
1 Cor 15:58
Therefore, my beloved brothers, be firm, steadfast, always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain.
Whatever you do, do from the heart, as for the Lord and not for others, knowing that you will receive from the Lord the due payment of the inheritance.
For God is not unjust so as to overlook your work and the love you have demonstrated for his name by having served and continuing to serve the holy ones.
What good is it, my brothers, if someone says he has faith but does not have works? Can that faith save him? If a brother or sister has nothing to wear and has no food for the day, and one of you says to them, “Go in peace, keep warm, and eat well,” but you do not give them the necessities of the body, what good is it? So also faith of itself, if it does not have works, is dead. Indeed someone might say, “You have faith and I have works.” Demonstrate your faith to me without works, and I will demonstrate my faith to you from my works.
Do you want proof, you ignoramus, that faith without works is useless? Was not Abraham our father justified by works when he offered his son Isaac upon the altar? You see that faith was active along with his works, and faith was completed by the works.
Even before I was Catholic, there was something just wrong about not recognizing that faith and works complete each other. You can’t separate them, faith that just sits around “believing”, or inactive faith, makes me scratch my head and wonder “what’s the point?” Put it this way. You would be appalled if as a new mother, I didn’t hold, and cuddle, feed, clothe and nurture my baby. It wouldn’t matter how much I plastered my facebook with sentiments of love for my child, if she were naked, hungry and neglected, my words would be completely void. But isn’t that what faith without works looks like? Because I love my kids, I am compelled to DO THINGS…to work, if you will…what I do proves what I believe. In the same way, because I trust in Jesus, and believe in His finished work, I am compelled to obey Him. Because he saved me, He becomes Lord, and I am his servant. I DO what He tells me to do. Paying lip service is not enough. My faith compels me to action.
On the other hand, there are good people who do good things (even in the name of Jesus); feeding the poor, visiting the homebound, speaking kindly, taking care of their environment, etc. But if they don’t believe…if they don’t trust in what Jesus came to do for them, they are lost. Their works won’t gain their salvation. Please see:
- Rom 9:31-32
- Israel, who pursued the law of righteousness, did not attain to that law … because they did it not by faith, but as if it could be done by works.
- Gal 3:11
- And that no one is justified before God by the law is clear, for “the one who is righteous by faith will live.”
I do find it interesting that the determining factor in the separation of the sheep and the goats is Matthew 25 was….works? Look at it:
- Mt 25:31-45
- 31 “When the Son of man comes in his glory, and all the angels with him, then he will sit on his glorious throne. 32 Before him will be gathered all the nations, and he will separate them one from another as a shepherd separates the sheep from the goats, 33 and he will place the sheep at his right hand, but the goats at the left. 34 Then the King will say to those at his right hand, ‘Come, O blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world; 35 for I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, 36 I was naked and you clothed me, I was sick and you visited me, I was in prison and you came to me.’ 37 Then the righteous will answer him, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry and feed thee, or thirsty and give thee drink? 38 And when did we see thee a stranger and welcome thee, or naked and clothe thee? 39 And when did we see thee sick or in prison and visit thee?’ 40 And the King will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brethren, you did it to me.’ 41 Then he will say to those at his left hand, ‘Depart from me, you cursed, into the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels; 42 for I was hungry and you gave me no food, I was thirsty and you gave me no drink, 43 I was a stranger and you did not welcome me, naked and you did not clothe me, sick and in prison and you did not visit me.’ 44 Then they also will answer, ‘Lord, when did we see thee hungry or thirsty or a stranger or naked or sick or in prison, and did not minister to thee?’ 45 Then he will answer them, ‘Truly, I say to you, as you did it not to one of the least of these, you did it not to me.’ 46 And they will go away into eternal punishment, but the righteous into eternal life.”
Also, what did Paul mean when he said:
Philippians 2:12 Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, so now, not only as in my presence but much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; 13 for God is at work in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.
Lord, this is a strange new season where I find myself. I know you told me not to dwell on the former things, because you are doing something new, and I’m trying, Lord, but I have such fond memories of the old, and I miss it. I miss those baby days, the smell of just bathed baby skin, the delighted squeals of happy baby laughter, and the warm evening snuggles with a lullaby before bed. I miss the homeschooling days, where I learned as I taught, and took so much pleasure in watching them grasp those new concepts as the light went on inside their head when the connecters in their little brains clicked. I loved loving them, and teaching them, and nurturing them. I loved watching them grow, and learn, and mature.
And frankly, Lord…I’m out of my comfort zone in this new place you have me. Three of my four children are grown and have left the nest. Two have started families of their own, the third is exercising her new-found wings, determined to learn things on her own, without me, same as her older siblings did. The fourth is only a short stretch away from being an adult, and I worry that I haven’t adequately prepared her. There is so little time left, and so much she still needs, and I have a strong sense of my failures, limitations and inadequacy in preparing her.
And, here I am, still learning as I go. No longer teaching from a standpoint of lecture and instruction, but from one of example. I’m learning as I go, how to place them in your hands, as you remind me of the lesson you taught me years ago; that You know them, better than I ever will, and You love them deeper than I ever could. I humbly offer up to you all of my expectations, attempts, successes and failures in my endeavors to love, instruct and guide them. Forgive me, Lord, for trying to do so in my own strength, and fill me with the knowledge of your forgiveness for the judgment and anger that propelled my desire to help them but only served to push them farther from me and potentially, from you.
Draw us all to yourself, and bind us together in your love, Lord. Remind my children of your presence and help in the busy-ness of their lives. Help me, in my responses to them, to understand, support, and affirm them in their faith, and direct them to your throne in their time of need.
In the Precious Name of Jesus, I ask these things.
As a Mother myself, my heart goes out to Mary, the Mother of Jesus. I can’t imagine watching my child suffer the torture that Jesus endured, yet the Bible tells us that Mary followed; she watched His suffering, all of it, even though there was nothing she could do to stop it or even alleviate it. I know how much I hurt when my children are hurting, I see Mary, as any Momma, concerned for her child, agonizing with and for him, and wanting to eliminate anything bad that touches her child.
What must she have been thinking and feeling as she followed Jesus down His road of suffering? Did she find clarity as her mind replayed all those events that the Bible says she treasured in her heart? Did all the prophetic words she heard, but did not understand—all the words of blessing spoken over her and her son—the words spoken by Jesus to her, his Mother, did it all come rushing back to her heart and mind as she watched Him suffer and die?
As she followed Jesus down the streets of Jerusalem, did she compare her journey to the one she and Joseph traveled in order to protect Him from a wicked king who sought to destroy his life?
When He fell under the weight of His own cross, I wonder if Simeon’s words came to her mind? “...destined for the falling and the rising of many in Israel…”
As the voices of the crowd rose in mockery while her beloved son hung in shame; “… a sign that will be opposed so that the inner thoughts of many will be revealed”
and when the soldier pierced Jesus’ side, and blood and water poured out, did Simeon’s prophetic words “—and a sword will pierce your own soul” echo in her mind?
The great loss she felt at that moment must have reminded her of another time she thought she had lost him, and later found him in the synagogue teaching the teachers. Surely His words reverberated through her mind, “didn’t you know I had to be about my Father’s business?” When He cried out “It is Finished” and breathed His last breath, did she remember and long for the answer He gave her in Cana before He performed His first miracle; “My time has not yet come“.
Can’t you just see the flood of memories that replayed as she watched Joseph of Arimethea wrap and bury her son? Did her memory take her back to Bethlehem where she first saw her son wrapped in cloths and laid in the manger?
Then, on the third day, at daybreak, when she, Mary Magdalene and Salome went to the tomb to anoint His body, and found the stone rolled away, did her mind flash back to just a few days prior, when Jesus had ordered that the stone be rolled away from Lazarus’ tomb, and that He be unwrapped? I imagine the memory of His words that day “I am the Resurrection and the Life.” became less a memory, and more relevant now than ever, at the sight of his neatly folded grave clothes in an otherwise empty tomb.
I’ve heard the story of Palm Sunday a number of times, but today was introduced to the irony of this story marking the beginning of Holy Week.
John 12:12 The next day the great crowd that had come to the festival heard that Jesus was coming to Jerusalem. 13 So they took branches of palm trees and went out to meet him, shouting,
Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord—
the King of Israel!”
14 Jesus found a young donkey and sat on it; as it is written:
15 “Do not be afraid, daughter of Zion.
Look, your king is coming,
sitting on a donkey’s colt!”
16 His disciples did not understand these things at first; but when Jesus was glorified, then they remembered that these things had been written of him and had been done to him. 17 So the crowd that had been with him when he called Lazarus out of the tomb and raised him from the dead continued to testify.18 It was also because they heard that he had performed this sign that the crowd went to meet him. 19 The Pharisees then said to one another, “You see, you can do nothing. Look, the world has gone after him!”
How quickly the crowd (who has watched Jesus bring the dead to life) turns from shouts of Hosannah to cries of “Crucify Him!”. In just a short week’s time, we see Jesus go from the back of a donkey to carrying a cross on his own back…likely through the very same streets. And nobody, not even his own disciples understood it at first, even though they had been taught, and had seen the prophecies written about Him.
And aren’t we, his disciples, the same? Isn’t it easy to shout “Hosannah!” when we look to and believe His promises? But as soon as hard times come, we can easily be turned away to doubt and fear, questioning His goodness, and forgetting His power?
Soul of Christ, sanctify me.
Body of Christ, save me.
Blood of Christ, inebriate me.
Water from the side of Christ, wash me.
Passion of Christ, strengthen me.
O good Jesus, hear me.
Within Thy wounds, hide me.
Suffer me not to be separated from Thee.
From the malignant enemy, defend me.
In the hour of my death, call me and bid me come to Thee.
That with Thy Saints I may praise Thee.
Forever and ever.
We live in a very small southern town in the middle of the Bible Belt and attend Mass an hour’s drive from here. As a result of this dynamic, I’ve felt a little dry inside for fellowship and personal involvement. After several brainstorming sessions and discussions with some of my online friends, I got up the nerve to send a letter to the head of the women’s ministry there. I let her know of our circumstances, and my desire to be involved, even if not in person. I have purposed in my heart to pray for the priests who minister there, as well as their RCIA and RE teachers and leaders. Imagine my surprise when first thing the very next morning, I received an answer back from this lady, welcoming me and wanting to meet in person next week. I am praying that the Lord will open the doors that need to be opened for me to be involved in some sort of ministry there.
What I’m reading:
Still perusing through the YouCat. I wish I’d have had something like this to walk me through my faith as a teenager. I highly recommend it to you who have teen-aged kids.
Passing it on—stuff I enjoyed this week on the web
Six things I didn’t learn in Church – resonated with me, and I had to share!
We The Undersigned – Catholic Women Rising has a place where Catholic women can affirm their support of Church teaching on issues relating to sexuality, contraception, abortion, marriage and the male priesthood.
Living In Graceland warmed my heart with the thought of writing a Message to My Younger Momma Self . Read it. She hit the nail on the head!
Sola Scriptura debate between Pat Donahue and John Martignoni
Coming This Week
I’m still plugging through my friend’s questions regarding the Baltimore Catechism, and Catholic vs. Protestant teachings. Watch for Thursday’s installment on my Baltimore Catechism’s series, Faith and Works…a continuation of my thoughts from Baptism and Salvation. When I get to the end of those questions, I’ve decided to start back at the beginning of the Baltimore Catechism, and go through it lesson by lesson…I’ll add my thoughts, including how I was taught as a Protestant to interpret the Scriptures regarding those lessons, as well as the Church’s official teaching (passed down for the past 2000 years). It’s a little bit funny, and very, very interesting how the Scriptures come alive…how many I find that were either not taught at all, or at the least were downplayed and taught as inconsequential or shrugged of completely by the churches I attended before becoming Catholic.
This Week’s Prayer List
For our priests and religious educators, to be able to effectively communicate the gospel, and for hearts to be open and ready to receive their words.
For gracious words to those who disagree or misunderstand us. For forgiving hearts and a spirit of love and unity.
That we would be good stewards of what we are given, and make wise decisions with the options we are given, and be found faithful.
For gracious words, peaceful thoughts, and a grateful heart.
Have a great weekend, y’all.