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NEW LIFE THROUGH FAITH IN CHRIST, DEAD AND RISEN
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, within the Octave of Easter, April 21, 2014
Acts 2:14, 22-33, Ps. 15, Matt. 28:8-15


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.


"Being therefore exalted at the right hand of God and having received from the Father the promise of the Holy Spirit, he poured out this which you see and hear" (Acts 2:33).


This is the first Christian sermon. It was the day of Pentecost. The Holy Spirit had just been poured out on the apostles, and they spoke in tongues. Then St. Peter stood up to explain all this to the people, saying that Jesus who was crucified and killed has been raised by God and exalted at his right hand, where he received from his Father the promised Holy Spirit and poured out what you now see and hear, the gift of tongues.


This is Jesus' present state. He is now in heaven, seated at the right hand of his Father in glory, and is pouring out from him the Holy Spirit upon all who repent and believe in him. Thus they receive forgiveness of their sins and justification through their faith.


Christ's death is the cause of our justification; and faith is the means through which we are justified. His death actually makes us righteous, "for as by one man's disobedience many were made sinners, so by one man's obedience many will be made righteous" (Rom. 5:19). Christ's work on the cross did this, not our work, for he is the source of our justification that makes us a new creation (2 Cor. 5:17) and new men (Eph. 4:22-24). Through him we are born anew.


By being justified through faith in the power of Jesus' death, we are forgiven, made righteous, holy, and resplendent before God, and born anew in him, without any work of our own. This is all his work, and only his work. All this comes to us through our faith in Christ. This is not something that we can do to ourselves by our own works. Only the work of Christ on the cross, through our faith in him, justifies, forgives, makes us righteous, fills us with the Holy Spirit, gives us a new birth, makes us a new creation, a new creature, new men in Jesus Christ, with initial holiness. No human work of our own can do this to us! It is a pure gift of God. We do not justify ourselves by our works (Gal. 2:16). This was the great discovery of Easter and Pentecost. The Church discovered this in the resurrection of Jesus Christ and in receiving the gift of the Holy Spirit.


So when the people asked St. Peter and the apostles, saying, "Brethren, what shall we do?" Peter told them, "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 2:37-38). This is the same question that the Philippian jailer asked St. Paul and Silas, "‘Sirs, what must I do to be saved?' So they said, ‘Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and you will be saved, you and your household'" (Acts 16:30-31 NKJV). If we believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, we will be saved, forgiven, justified, and initially sanctified. We do not have to do anything other than believe in him to be made righteous, holy, forgiven, and born anew. We experience this especially in the sacrament of reconciliation (John 20:22-23).


Then, once we are made truly righteous by the death of Christ, through our faith in him, we have to live a new life, only for him who died and rose for us, for "he died for all, that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised" (2 Cor. 5:15). Thus we will grow still more in our justification and sanctification, and will avoid losing our justification and salvation.

 

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