Romans 8: 28-30
The last verse of today’s second reading can be expressed as follows: “Long ago God called those He intended. Those He called He justified and with those He justified He shared His glory.”
During the first millennium of Church history, these words were the focal point of much concern and argumentation. The great St. Augustine used them to argue that we are all predestined to either heaven or hell. In other words, we are either called, and therefore, justified, or we are not called and thus not justified. We are, then, seen to be victims of predestination. Some of us are born “good” and others “bad.”
Great though he was, Augustine was not greater than the Church he served and two ecumenical councils declared this teaching to be erroneous.
This is a good example of why we need the Church with its God-given authority to interpret the Scriptures. The Church teaches us, as did Paul, that we are all predestined to become true images of Jesus and are thus assured of salvation if and this IF is important, if we open the door when He knocks, if not all the way, then at least a crack.
And so although God wills that all people be saved, it does not follow that all are, in fact, actually saved. Salvation is a gift offered to us. It is freely given and must be freely accepted.
God knows from all eternity which of us will be saved and who, if any, will not. But knowing the future is not the same as causing it. Therefore, God’s foreknowledge in no way affects our free will and its consequences.
That a remotely possible consequence of our choices is in fact damnation is ignored by most of us, but consider this: Without final judgement, there can be no justice. But God, by definition, is just. So there must be final judgement.
Thus it is that our personal salvation is an object of hope and not of certain knowledge.
It is, however, an extraordinarily well founded hope based, as it is, upon God’s merciful love for each of us, a love made manifest on Calvary.
Our love for God is always a response. In all cases the initiative is God’s. He never gives up on us. And that too is foundational to our hope.
And so it is, that, in spite of our weakness, we never, never have reason to lose hope.