Back to the Basics

For 2014, the start of a New Year, I want to get “back to the basics,” as it were. Back to the basics in my personal life, my school life, my professional life. But most importantly, back to the basics in my relationship with Jesus.

What is it that God is asking of me, daily? What is it that my identity as a Catholic follower of Christ is calling me to? I keep coming back to the basic message: share Jesus. Proclaim the Gospel. Preach the Good News. Pope Francis wrote, “The most important thing that can happen to a person is to encounter Jesus: the encounter with Jesus who loves us, who has saved us, who gave His life for us.” Through baptism and faith, God out of sheer gratuitous grace has adopted me into His Church and justified me. Now, as I work out my salvation in fear and trembling, He is calling me to grow in my justification and sanctification by obeying Him through cooperation with the Spirit. Christ has commanded me to take up my cross and to go and make disciples by preaching the Gospel.

The Gospel can be articulated as the message of God’s glory and His great love for people, which He displayed in the sacrifice of Calvary and the resurrection that affects the salvation of sinners separated from relationship with God because of sin. The good news is that God loves us despite our rebellion against Him and desires to save us for relationship with Him, so the Father sent His Incarnated Son to pour Himself out as an atoning sacrifice on the cross for the world’s sins and rise from the dead. He did this in order to save and reconcile to Himself all those who believe in and obey Him through the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

And what is our response to this message of God’s love, our separation from Him, and Christ’s crucifixion and resurrection? When we repent, have faith in Jesus Christ, and are baptized, He removes our original and past sins and frees us from slavery to sin. God becomes our Father through a gift of grace by freely adopting us as His children into an intimate relationship with Him. Our purpose in life becomes simple: to glorify God by knowing, loving, and serving Him. As we follow Jesus in His Church, we will be transformed by His Spirit into Christ’s image so we can be finally saved from the eternal punishment we fully deserve, allowing us to enjoy Him forever in heaven.

The only way to salvation is relationship with Jesus Christ, the Savior of the world. He died on the cross to pay for our sins, and He offers each of us forgiveness for our sins and ontologically new life in Him. When we put our faith in Christ and are baptized, we become a new creation and are born-again. We become a temple of the Holy Spirit, citizens of heaven, and are given a share in His eternal life. We are adopted as children of God, and receive righteousness and sanctifying grace. Our original sin is gone, and out past sins are forgiven and washed away. The old has gone, the new is come. We were bought with a price, and our citizenship is now in heaven, where we await our eternal inheritance.

This year, I’m going to start praying like Paul for God to create opportunities in my life for me to declare the wonderful mysteries of Jesus and His Church. I’m going to start asking God to embolden me to share the Gospel even in the midst of opposition. “For I am not ashamed of the gospel, for it is the power of God for salvation to everyone who believes.” (Romans 1:16a).

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