CHAPTER 4: Entitlements?

Unless you are a person who hs no television and does not know what Google means, you will recognize the sayings: Be All You Can Be, and, The Few. The Proud. A Marine.

These statements suggest that, if you belong to the Army or are a Marine, you are special, elite, set apart from the ordinary mortals who populate this planet.

In one of my Lectio Divina meditations, I went through my Lectio (Have in you the mind of Christ Jesus–Philippians 2:5)) and came out the other end of the rabbit hole thinking about the exclusivity that some people wrap themselves in. Read what the Scripture says about those who think they are the norm for righteousness rather than Christ.

Luke 18 NRSVCE – The Parable of the Pharisee and the Tax Collector“He also told this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous and regarded others with contempt: 10 “Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. 11 The Pharisee, standing by himself, was praying thus, ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other people: thieves, rogues, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. 12 I fast twice a week; I give a tenth of all my income.’ 13 But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even look up to heaven, but was beating his breast and saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ 14 I tell you, this man went down to his home justified rather than the other; for all who exalt themselves will be humbled, but all who humble themselves will be exalted.”

I think of this passage whenever I am tempted to believe that salvation comes through me and not Christ. There seem to be two different ways to look at salvation:
1. SALVATION BY ENTITLEMENT. I have been gifted by God with salvation because of my Baptism. I am entitled to salvation because I am Baptized and no matter what I do, I am automatically saved by the blood of the Lamb. I get on the conveyor belt of time, can do any sin without consequences, and get off the belt when I get to Heaven. No judgment by God. No problem if I die in a state of sin. No consequences or reparation for my sins.
2. SALVATION BY GRACE. I have been gifted by God with salvation because of my Baptism but, because of Original Sin, I need the constant and daily conversion of my false self to my new self. This doesn’t depend on God (God gives us His Grace) but upon me. Read Matthew 25:36. The message of the Good News is salvation was won by the redemption of Christ. We participate in that act of redemption by loving others as Christ loves us. We share in the act of salvation by sharing the gifts we receive from God in terms of what we do for others, e.g., if you want mercy, you must give mercy to others.

We are not entitled to salvation, it is a gift, as is Baptism, Confirmation, Eucharist, Forgiveness of Sins, Marriage, Holy Orders, and Anointing of the Sick. Christ tells us to share peace with others, by taking up our cross daily and following Him.

There is the last judgment where we will all be judged by our works, our stewardship of the gift of Baptism. If we do nothing with our Faith (not belief) from God but put it under the mattress, it is like the steward that buried his Master’s money and had no interest to give to his Master upon being asked for his accounting.

St. Benedict tells us in Chapter 4 of His rule “These are the tools of spiritual craft. When we have used them without ceasing day and night and have returned them on judgment day, our wages will be the reward the Lord has promised: What the eye has not seen nor ear heard, God has prepared for those who love him. (I Corinthians 2:9).

My take-away from this is that I must love others as Christ has loved us. That means work on my part. Chapter 4 of the Rule helps give me the perspective that keeps my Faith from being anemic, so much cotton candy that tastes good but has no substance.

Humility keeps each of us from the danger of thinking we are exclusive, as the story of the Pharisee above. Humility and the notion of entitlement are mutually exclusive thinking that I am owed heaven because I have been baptized. True, Baptism is necessary for salvation, but let God judge those who are not baptized, not you.

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