180° Week One: Christ Conquers Fear of Judgment and Death
Dear brothers and sisters,
Happy Easter! Today we begin a new six-week series called 180°. In recent months, I have been offering my Sunday homilies as multi-week series, and you are warmly invited to come back in the following weeks to hear the next parts of the series. In our lives, sometimes we need little course corrections, but sometimes in big ways we need a complete “180.” This series is all about how Christ suffered, died, and rose from the dead, in order to do the “180’s” in our lives that we cannot do on our own. Today’s message is about the biggest one of all: judgment. When we think about being called to the principal’s office, or being pulled over by a policeman, any thought of “judgment” naturally fills us with fear. Every week in Mass we profess that Christ will come again to judge the living and the dead. God created us to worship him and honor him, but our sin judges us unworthy of being in God’s presence. In Romans 5:6-11 we hear: “For Christ, while we were still helpless, yet died at the appointed time for the ungodly. Indeed, only with difficulty does one die for a just person, though perhaps for a good person one might even find courage to die. But God proves his love for us in that while we were still sinners Christ died for us. How much more then, since we are now justified by his blood, will we be saved through him from the wrath. Indeed, if, while we were enemies, we were reconciled to God through the death of his Son, how much more, once reconciled, will we be saved by his life. Not only that, but we also boast of God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” Maybe you feel that God won’t forgive you for the past, and maybe you fear God’s judgment. So much more, however, is added to us by being justified by his blood, by being put into a right relationship with God. Rather than filling us with fear, we can boast – we can have joy – in the coming of our Savior, who has completely turned around fear of judgment and death. Let us be faithful to him and live our lives not in fear, but in joyful hope for the coming of our Savior. His personal love for us is the greatest price paid, more than we could ever earn, more than we deserved, and more than we could even imagine. Questions for small groups:
When have you had the experience of standing in front of an authority and being judged? What emotions have you felt in those circumstances?
Read aloud Romans 5:9. When you hear the phrase “Wrath of God,” what comes to mind? How does that square with a merciful God?
Read aloud Romans 5:10. What does it say about God’s love for us that he died while we were his enemies?
On a scale of 1-10, how much do you buy in emotionally and intellectually that our judgment goes well for us because of what Jesus’ performance on the cross and not on our sins?
How can we increase the joy and gratitude we have for what Jesus did for us by his cross and resurrection?
Christ is Risen! He is Truly Risen! Fr. Reichlen