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THE MESSAGE THAT RENEWS ALL WHO RECEIVE IT WITH FAITH
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Saturday, 4th Week of Easter, May 05, 2012
Hch. 13:44-52, Ps. 97, John 14:7-14


"Let it be known to you therefore, brethren, that through this man forgiveness of sins is proclaimed to you, and by him every one that believes is freed from everything from which you could not be freed by the law of Moses" (Acts 13:38-39).


These two verses contain the culminating point of St. Paul's first recorded sermon. And today we hear his second sermon, when the Jews "contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him" (Acts 13:45). Paul therefore said, "Behold, we turn to the Gentiles. For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth'" (Acts 13:46-47).


Here we see the beginnings of the Church's mission to the Gentiles. Paul and Barnabas first spoke to the Jews, but when many of them rejected the gospel, they turned to the Gentiles, so that God's salvation in Jesus Christ might reach to the ends of the earth. This missionary work of the Church continues to the present day, and still in many nations of Asia not more than two percent of the population is Christian. It is important that all hear this message that God sent to the whole world in his only Son, namely that there is repentance and forgiveness of sins in Christ's name for all who believe in him. This message is for all the peoples of the world, for the Gentiles, as St. Paul says today.


The message is this: "Thus it is written, that the Christ should suffer and on the third day rise from the dead, and that repentance and forgiveness of sins should be preached in his name to all nations" (Luke 24:46-47). In his death, as a criminal on the cross, God condemned sin. He condemned it in the flesh of his Son on the cross (Rom. 8:3). Christ freed us from the curse of the law for our sins by suffering it himself instead of us, thus freeing us from the righteous wrath of God for our sins (Rom. 1:18), absorbing it into himself (Gal. 3:13). Christ bore our sins on the cross (1 Pet. 2:24) and suffered for them (1 Pet. 3:18) so that we might be made just and righteous with all our sins forgiven (2 Cor. 5:21). This was prophesied by the prophets (Acts 10:43; Isa. 53). What we are to do is repent, believe in Christ, and be baptized (Acts 2:38). "To him all the prophets bear witness that every one who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name" (Acts 10:43). "Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins; and you shall receive the gift of the Holy Spirit" (Acts 2:38). Jesus Christ is now exalted and is the source of this salvation. "God exalted him at his right hand as Leader and Savior, to give repentance to Israel and forgiveness of sins" (Acts 5:31).


It is this same message that we bring to the nations, to the peoples, to the Gentiles, ad gentes, today for the renewal of the human race. In Christ there is sure hope of eternal life, and the joy of the Holy Spirit. In him is the solution for the depression of spirit caused by guilt for having sinned, even in small things. This is a message that profoundly renews all who receive it with faith. It renews their present life, and gives them clear hope of eternal salvation. To have clear hope for eternal salvation changes the whole tenor of one's present life.

 

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