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(Part 98)


April 17, 2014
Today’s reading: Psalm 116:12-18

Everything we are and do for the Lord is a consequence of what He has already done for us. The problem comes when we are unaware, or unmindful of, or take for granted, or forget, or ignore, or are ungrateful for, the many blessings we have received from Him.

What basically has God done for us? God has “loosed my bonds.” (v.16b). He has redeemed me. He has freed me from bondage to sin, darkness and the evil one. He has brought me from hopelessness and helplessness to great hope and strength in the Spirit. I should be totally overwhelmed by what God has done, and so profusely grateful. “How can I repay the Lord for all the great good done for me?” (v.12).

But we are not even required to repay His great blessings. They are freely given. They are given not with something demanded in return, but only out of God’s great love, whether requited or not.

But then, we do need to respond. How can we not respond in the face of such great love? What then is the proper response?

“I will raise the cup of salvation and call on the name of the Lord.” (v.13). First, we look to the salvation won by Jesus for us on the cross. The saving self-sacrificial act of Jesus is the foundation for everything that we are and what we are called to do in the world. It is the most profound manifestation of God’s love for us. It is the assurance that since God already gave His very life, He would give us everything else besides. So we raise the cup to that, we “toast” such a great act. And we call upon his name, that is, accept him as Savior and Lord. This is how we appropriate for ourselves the salvation won for us (see Romans 10:13). As we celebrate Good Friday and Easter Sunday, let us meditate once more on this great event.

“Lord, I am your servant” (v.16a). Second, as Jesus paid the price for our salvation, we now belong to him. We are his servants, nay, his slaves (though he treats us as his friends). We should henceforth not just do what we want to do with our lives, but consider how we can be of service to him. This includes proclaiming the gospel, so that many more will experience salvation in him.

“I will pay my vows to the Lord in the presence of all his people.” (v.14,18). Third, as God has called us to be His people, and as the Lord has brought us into a particular community, we need to actively live out our covenant. We have a covenant as Catholic Christians and we serve the Church. We have a covenant as CFC-FFL and we live out all we have vowed to the Lord. This is the way God can effectively use us in His service.

“I will offer a sacrifice of praise and call on the name of the Lord.” (v.17). Fourth, we must always be a people of praise and worship, never ceasing to pray, always in the presence of God. It is so easy to be sucked in by the world, and basically forget what God has done for us. The antidote is daily prayer, daily reading of the Bible, the Eucharist, community worship, fidelity to covenant.

God has brought us from death to life. “Dear in the eyes of the Lord is the death of his devoted.” (v.15). God does not want us to return to a life of bondage and death. God even allowed the death of His own Son in order to bring us life. When we do die a physical death, then God intends it only as a transition to life eternal.

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