No Sinner Left Behind

“When you turn back to him with all your heart, to do what is right before him, then he will turn back to you, and no longer hide his face from you.” (Tobit 13:6)

God offers all of us the opportunity to be loved by him; he is Abba. In the Armed Forces, a fallen soldier is never left behind. That’s how God is with us.  He will never abandon us. It is not in his divinity; he can’t help himself. He knows well through Jesus’ experience how difficult is to be human. He knows how cunning and deceiving Satan can be. Therefore, his mercy knows no boundaries. However, to paraphrase Dietrich Bonhoeffer: “God’s grace is not cheap.” We must make a costly effort to live our lives honoring God by following his commandments and by living in Christ; having faith is not enough.

In Matthew 13: 44-46, Jesus tells his disciples: “The Kingdom of heaven is like a treasure buried in a field, which a person finds and hides again, and out of joy goes and sells all that he has and buys the field. Again, the Kingdom of heavens is like a merchant searching for fine pearls. When he finds a pearl of great price, he goes and sells all that he has and buys it.”

God is the treasure, the pearl of great price; love abundant for all.  Yet, only those who truly repent and dedicate themselves “to do what is right before him” will enjoy forevermore God’s gaze.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

The Golden Rule

“Do to others whatever you would have them do to you.” (Matthew 7:12)

Jesus was not the first to instruct us on the Golden Rule, as it became known in the eighteenth century. The rule dates back to the early part of the second century B.C.: “Do to no one what you yourself hate” (Tobit 4:15) and “Recognize that your neighbor feels as you do, and keep in mind everything you dislike.” (Sirach 31:15). Jesus, unlike Tobit and Sirach, gives the rule a positive connotation.

Christ is all about love. When we have love, we have a treasure like no other; a stone described by St. Gregory of Nyssa as a “pearl of the heart”, which contains Christ’s beauty. It is a stone we want to share with others and they want to share with us.

As we go about our day, let’s keep the Golden Rule in our hearts. If we do that means that Christ is within us too.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.

A Husband’s Wedding Prayer

Last week, I read a prayer (Tobit 8:5-8), which I can’t get it out of my mind. Maybe it is because of the pending U.S. Supreme Court decisions on marriage or maybe it is because I think it is a beautiful wedding prayer, which illustrates the covenant of a Christian marriage: “by which a man and a woman establish between themselves a partnership of the whole of life…ordered toward the good of the spouses and the procreation and education of offspring.” (Catechism of the Catholic Church 1601)

The prayer was recited by Tobiah after marrying Sarah. Sarah had been married 7 times prior, but all her husbands were killed by the wicked demon Asmodeus who possessed Sarah.  Fortunately, Tobiah, assisted by the Angel Raphael, expelled the demon (Tobit 3:8; 8:1-3).

 “Blessed are you, O God of our fathers,

Praised be your name forever and ever.

Let the heavens and all creation praise you forever.

You made Adam and you gave him his wife Eve to be his help and support; and from these two the human race descended.

You said, ‘It is not good for the man to be alone; let us make him a partner like himself.’

Now, Lord, you know that I take this wife of mine not because of lust, but for a noble purpose. Call down your mercy on me and on her, and allow us to live together to a happy old age.

Bless us with children.

Amen, amen!

I am an imperfect husband (and Christian) living in an imperfect marriage, but like Tobiah, I pray to God to send down his mercy upon me and my wife – and all marriages – to forgive us for our shortcomings while blessing us with perseverance to build a strong marriage.

© hectorortiz 2013. All rights reserved.