Welcome to the Cathedral Church of Saints Peter & Paul, Clifton.

 

Sunday 13th August 2017
Nineteenth Sunday in Ordinary Time, Year A
1 Kings 19: 9, 11-13     Romans 9: 1-5     Matthew 14: 22-33

 

Above the Water-Line.

One of the more perplexing questions that faces every Christian is to do with how much we are responsible for our own salvation, and how much does it depend simply on God?

We have to be clear at the start about one thing: none of us can earn our own salvation. There are no deeds good enough to force God’s hand. It is not as if we can be absolutely bold in claiming our place in heaven just because we have said lots of prayers, been to church each week, given a fortune to charity and founded an international chain of homes for the terminally bored!

Eternal life and happiness is a gift beyond all price. The only person capable of purchasing this gift for us is Jesus. Yet, of course, we know that Jesus has done precisely this by his act of redeeming us (“buying us back”) on the cross. He has paid the price for us. So where do we go from here? If Jesus has claimed us for his Father, is there any point in stirring ourselves into action? Surely it’s in the bag?

Maybe we could say, in reply to this dilemma, that since we are aware of the great gift given to us at baptism, we ought to respond by leading lives which reflect God’s goodness and concern. So our good deeds would be the signs that we are trying to live in faith. They would be the signs that we are redeemed but not the cause of our redemption.

In other words, if we thought that by being good we were buying heaven, then we’ve missed the boat. If we thought that we needn’t do good at all because we’re already redeemed, then we’re beginning to sink. But if we realised that because we’ve been redeemed then our only response to God should be a life of service, then we’re probably above the water-line.

It’s notable that as soon as Peter thought it was all up to him, he began to sink beneath the waves. His life-raft came when he recognised his need for God.

 

 

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Scripture Reflections (below) © Peter J Harrison 2017