I often speak to you about a great heresy that has infected our Church. The heresy teaches that good people go to Heaven and bad people go to Hell. As with all heresies, it is filled with partial truths.
The point of being a Christian is not to “work” to be good enough to get to Heaven. It is to be ambassadors of the Kingdom of God.
A part of the cause of this heresy has to do with a distortion of understanding of our faith today, in relationship to its roots in the Jewish faith.
The Jews did not proselytize, they never went out to preach their faith to the level that Christians have a mandate to do so. So they focus on being good Jews based on living the law and being faithful to the ways of God. Remember, the Jewish faith goes back thousands of years and was really the only faith at the time that believed in one God.
The Christians have a different mandate. It is our role to lead others to Christ, to bring about a conversion of heart in the life of others worldwide and we do that by living our faith. So our mandate is different than theirs; we live the faith not just to be faithful to Christ, but also to lead others to Him. In fact, St. John Chrysostom teaches that each of us has a greater mandate than the prophets of the Old Testament because they were only focused on the Hebrew nations where we are focused on the whole world.
So that means our focus is deeper than just trying to be good people. If you look carefully you will see that what St. Paul calls us to do is to be revolutionaries for Christ. However, our revolution is not about changing governments, but changing hearts, leading others to the wisdom of Christ and to Christ Himself. However, because our revolution is about changing hearts, those who reject God’s wisdom try to silence us. Why because it is all about revolution.
Our kingdom in which we are citizens is not a political kingdom but a state of being.
Notice the second reading, St. Paul calls us to live in a way that all we do glorifies God, seeks the good of others that all may be saved. That means our behavior must be different, our way of life must be different for one simple reason, so that all may be saved because that is our mission.
We have a different mandate. This does not mean that the Jews are wrong, but they have a mandate: being faithful to the Father. That mandate is different than ours: living in such a way that all may be saved. If you look carefully, both groups are revolutionaries, it is just our revolutions are different.
The Jews’ revolution is one of monotheism. It is they who testified to the reality of one God whom we also worship in a world surrounded by polytheism.
We in Christ build on that revolution to expand the reign of God beyond political or genetic borders to the entire world.
In both cases, the key element is growing in the wisdom of God. The more we grow in God’s wisdom, the more we change our way of being and acting.
This is what St. Paul calls us to live. This is why we cannot be like the others around us who reject Christ and live their life enlightened by the wisdom of the day. This is why we do not believe in the same morality as others, because we have a mission to live differently than others.
This is why we believe in marriage. We don’t believe in co-habitation. We believe in a profound understanding of life from conception to natural death. We believe in sacrificing our desires for the greater needs of others. We have a calling to believing in everything from a different understanding of success to a different work ethic. This is because everything we do is for the greater glory of God that all may be saved.
It is not about living social justice like you will hear in some environments because much of the social justice movements are all about changing others, but not about our own personal conversion. Our call is our own conversion, which then helps to change others.
This is also why prayer is so important because it is in prayer that we grow in our relationship with God and share that relationship with those others who also pray in our church community locally and worldwide. It is why attending Mass every Sunday is a required. It is part of our witness and helps us to grow in our service to Christ personally and as a community.
St. Paul has a philosophy which explains this well:
He teaches that we must live in a way that glorifies God. We live in a way that reflects our quest for holiness. We live in a way that does not sadden the Holy Spirit. In our words, our actions and our way of life.
Jesus teaches it in another way: You will live in a way that reflects what you treasure most. If you treasure others’ salvation most, you will that way. If you treasure worldly pleasures most, you will live that way. You will live in a way that reflects what you treasure most and our greatest pleasure is seeing others in Heaven because we did all we could to get them there.