No bargains here.

Signpost for Sunday 26 June, 2016: 2 Kgs 2:1-2,6-14; Ps 77:1-2, 11-20; Gal 5:1, 13-25; Luke 9:51-62.

The letter to the Galatians poses problems for some among us. Paul’s main point is the freedom of the Christian as against the slavery of the good faithful Jew, especially the Pharisee. He knows, because this is what happened to him. He was conquered by Christ and is now free. He finds himself in opposition to some in the early Church that we call the Judaisers. They want to have their cake and eat it.

But, as Paul sees it, the Spirit makes us Christians; the Law does not. We do not earn this by the works of the Law, but it is a free gift of God’s love. And in this passage he balances this main contention by adding that the other result of the presence of the Spirit is also love – the love that Christians have for one another and for God, and for their neighbour.

The Judaisers are still at work today in one way or another. Anything that replaces grace, the free gift of the love of God, by any sort of bargain is Judaising. If we think a pilgrimage is about getting close to God, or earning something, if we think that prayer and fasting bring results other than fostering our relationship with the love of God, if we insist that others must conform to our traditional way of living (marriage, same-sex relations, etc.) or if we demand a certain degree of commitment to giving, to worship, to study groups, then we are proclaiming that salvation can be, indeed must be earned, and the love of God is not really free after all.

We worship God because we love God and the company of God’s people. We study alone or together because this helps us in our free Christian life. We undertake spiritual exercises because they express our love to God and through them we feel the love of God more closely. None of them are undertaken in order to buy the grace of God. They all proceed freely from our experience of the free grace of God.



One comment

  1. Matthew Perri

    … say “as Paul sees it…..”

    How about as JESUS sees it?

    Jesus was asked twice which Commandment is the greatest or most important one, (Matthew 22 and Mark 12)
    Both times Jesus answered quoting the same two commandments, from the Law of Moses.

    Jesus said that one of these two commandments is the first and greatest most important one. Which one is it? The one in Deuteronomy 6, or the one in Leviticus 19 ?

    “The most important one,” answered Jesus, “ is this: ‘Hear, of Israel, the Lord our God, the Lord is one. Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind and with all your strength.’ [Mark 12:29-30, Deuteronomy 6:4-5]

    Jesus replied: “’Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment.” [Matthew 22:37-38, Deuteronomy 6:5]

    Poem – What is love?

    Two men came to Jesus
    With different motivations.
    They asked Him the same question
    Relevant to all the nations:

    Which is the Most Important?
    The answer was the same.
    Jesus did not manipulate
    He was not there to play a game.

    “Love the Lord your God” said Jesus
    as He quoted from The Law –
    to fulfill and not abolish
    was His purpose, full of awe.

    Jesus did not make all Scripture
    Into one new great commandment.
    He summarized The Law and Prophets
    “First and Greatest” and “The Second.”

    The Love of God is higher
    Than the love of any man.
    Receive from God, give back to God-
    Then to others, that’s His plan.

    The Love of God involves much more
    Than simply “love your fellow man.”
    Worship, trust, and pray to God,
    and obey Him – that’s His plan

    To worship and pray to neighbors,
    Whoever they may be,
    Or trust and obey our enemies
    Would be idolatry.

    The love of God is first and greatest,
    And the love of man is second.
    “All we need is love” are words
    of dead Beetles on the pavement.

    “The entire law is summed up in a single command”
    are not the words of Jesus our Salvation.
    It’s false teaching of Paul the Pharisee
    an “accuser of our brethren.”

    “Love” without God is Satan’s word through Paul
    in his chapter to the Corinthians.
    “I will show you the most excellent way”
    is the road to eternal perdition.

    Where is God in Paul’s chapter on love?
    Nowhere in view of the eye.
    Paul sings about himself like a Mexican Mariachi
    “I, I, I, I.”

    Jesus is The Most Excellent Way
    Not the words of a Pharisee.
    The words of Jesus are very clear.
    Jesus said, “You must follow ME.”


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