St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop

St. Charles Borromeo, Bishop
Philippians 2:12-18  +  Luke 14:25-33
November 4, 2020

… work out your salvation with fear and trembling.

Saints of the Church have noted that every aspect of the Christian faith is inevitably distorted twice, in opposite directions.  Take St. Paul’s words in today’s First Reading as an example, where he preaches about the drama of the Christian spiritual life.

On the one hand, St. Paul commands the Philippians:  “work out your salvation with fear and trembling.”  This command speaks clearly of the centrality of human effort in the spiritual life.  Salvation is not a “done deal” at one’s baptism.  Salvation is assured only to the Christian who perseveres in God’s love to the very end of her earthly life.  Unfortunately, there are some who have only considered this truth in isolation, claiming that salvation comes through human effort, to the exclusion of God’s help.

On the other hand, St. Paul preaches clearly about God’s centrality in the spiritual life.  “God is the one who… works in you both to desire and to work.”  There are, unfortunately, those who have exaggerated God’s role in the spiritual life, claiming that man cannot contribute anything good to his own salvation.  When we listen with both ears, however, God reveals to us that the spiritual life is a drama:  God is in the lead role, but asks us to follow Him in the acts that lead to Heaven.