The Readings for the 3rd Day before the Nones of January:
Et omnis qui habet hanc spem in eo, sanctificat se, sicut et ille sanctus est.
On Sunday, Fr Joseph Illo preached an excellent sermon during which he said, “I am saved by faith, but I have a part to play: I have to get out of the way, to let God save me.” We are saved by faith. But we have a part to play in our salvation happening.
John was dealing with a class of heretics who (among other things) said that sex didn’t matter because the body was unimportant. All that was needed was for the soul to get right with God. To this John replies that we must be holy as Jesus is holy, using a Greek word translated as holy that also specifically puts forward the implication of ritual, sexual purity. How many times have you heard that Jesus freed us from concerns about sex and purity? Quite the reverse.
We are saved by faith. But we have a part to play in our salvation happening. In the context not of just today’s reading, but of the whole passage (as we saw yesterday) John names those who disdain this purity “Antichrist”. I’ve heard some strong words leveled at Jack Spong, Nancy Pelosi, The Jesus Seminar, and My Favorite Martin, but Antichrist is a new one for me. We don’t like to judge folks… Jesus promised that job to the Apostles though: like John.
I’ve spent a lot of time working to keep God from saving me: and I’ve used modern misconceptions of sex to to do it most, but also some drugs and rock and roll. It’s not enough to recognize we’re under the judgement of God. We have to actively come out of Babylon, to stop doing what we were doing. Jesus is the “Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world…” but he will not rudely rip them from our hands. The tighter we hold on the more he says, “let me help with that…”
But if we don’t let go, if we don’t get out of the way, Jesus is not going to knock us over and drag us off to salvation.
We have a job to do, work to perform. We have to let God save us. To do that we have to get ourselves out of the way. The music is already playing: all we need do is dance to God’s lead.