Author: Lisa Graas
•4/06/2003 11:10:00 AM
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In the reading today from Jeremiah, God said that the time is coming when His law would be written on the hearts of His people. This is often given as a Scriptural "proof" that there is now no need for an authoritative church. Logically speaking, if this Scipture were read in that context, there would also be no need of a Bible. It is true that a man can be saved without having access either to the Church or to the Bible, but this does not mean that the Church and the Bible are evil. Far from it. So what is God really saying here?

God said, "All, from least to greatest, shall know me"....."for I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sin no more."

This is a reference to the Incarnation and of the redemption which God chose to bring about through the Incarnation and His suffering on the Cross. When God humbled Himself to become a member of humanity, He entered into a union with each of us. This is how we all "know" Him. He is one of us. Each member of humanity is united with Him in a certain kinship because He has become a member of humanity. Everyone, then, "knows" God in a certain sense. Before Christ, the Jews were separated from God by sin and death, and the Gentiles were separated from God by their nature. Now, all may know Him (all may participate in the redemption) because He has become one of us.

Does it mean that all will go to heaven? By no means. As St. Augustine said, "They can sell themselves, but not redeem themselves." We cannot redeem ourselves, but we can choose to sell ourselves.

God could have forgiven all of mankind without the Incarnation and the suffering on the Cross. It was within His power to do that. So why didn't He? He chose to become one of us so that we may all be elevated in the supernatural order through an act of His love for us and so that we might know redemption in our own hearts through love that comes with sacrifice. It is in this way that He remembers our sin no more. It is through His love and through our response to that love that we can know the depth of love. I often say to my children, "love is not love unless it is freely chosen". God loves us and He wills that we also know love, so He gives us a choice to serve Him or not. He gives us a choice to love Him by loving each other.

As is noted in today's Psalm, the creation of a clean heart in us is connected with our redemption, but this requires an act of our own will. We must ask for God to do this within us. We must turn our hearts to Him and request that He do this for us. We must return to Him and away from our transgressions. Christ says, "Whoever serves me must follow me." We cannot willfully turn from God and have hope of redemption, but if we choose to follow Him, He will make our hearts clean, His name will be glorified, our sins will be blotted out and He will bring us honor.

God bless you.
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