The language of the Letter to the Galatians is strong indeed. Yesterday, we heard St. Paul call the Galatians “stupid.” In any culture, that word makes our pulse run rapid. Today’s reading speaks of blessings and curses. Could any two things be further apart? Yet St. Paul insists that anyone who puts their faith in the law is cursed.
Think about it for a moment. Each of us knows that we have sinned in the past. Each of us knows that there is every likelihood that we will sin again even though we try to avoid it. However, there were those who were teaching that salvation came through obedience to the Law. Because we are all sinners, being saved by observance of the Law just doesn’t make any sense. However, if we have faith in Jesus and in his death and resurrection, we know that even though we might sin, God will forgive us. Jesus has already paid the price for our sins.
At one time, the Novitiate for our Province was in a former fraternity house on the campus of a Methodist College. Frequently, students of the college would join us for dinner and some conversation. On one occasion, one of the students asked why we had a crucifix on the wall. Why depict Jesus as dead on a cross? Though one of the novices tried to explain it, the student simply could not understand. He was used to seeing a cross, but not a crucifix.
The crucifix reminds us of Jesus’ death. It should also remind us of his resurrection. Our Eucharist is a memorial of his death and resurrection. We need to remind ourselves constantly that even though we are all sinners, we can be saved by our faith in Jesus.
Fr. Lawrence Jagdfeld, O.F.M., Administrator