The false gospel in our world today is a very subtle mixture of secular humanism and Christianity. It says, “The gospel is all about making the world a better place and making ourselves better people. God…if he exists…wants us to “do it ourselves” this is why he is so often absent from our world. He sits on the sidelines like a good parent allowing us to grow up and do it ourselves–even if sometimes we make mistakes.
This false gospel replaces grace with good works and reverence with relevance.
The reason it is so insidious is not because it is so far from the truth, but because it is so close.
Listen to what St Paul says in the epistle from Mass today:
May the God of peace make you perfectly holy
and may you entirely, spirit, soul, and body,
be preserved blameless for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.
The one who calls you is faithful,
and he will also accomplish it.
You see. We are to become perfectly fulfilled and complete human beings. We are called to become better, to be freed of our faults and guilt and to become all that we were created to be but…and here is the big BUT.
It is God who does this work in us. We cannot do it ourselves.
This is the difference, and it is a crucial and vital difference.
The only way we can become what we were created to be and to make ourselves, our families, our communities and our world a better place is to rely on grace.
How do we rely on grace? This is where it comes back to the old, old story. Without repentance and faith we do not have access to grace.
But when we honestly and seriously face our sin and our emptiness and our need for God, when we repent and turn to him for help the door opens to receive his grace and power to change.
The challenge is that this whole process takes place in .a moment, but it is also the work of a lifetime. The work of perfection through God’s grace is the work (empowered by God) of a lifetime of failure and defeat followed by repentance and reliance on grace.
This is the great adventure of humanity. It is the mountain we are called to climb and the pilgrimage on which we are called to embark.
This is the message of John the Baptist–calling us from the wilderness to hear the word of the Lord to repent and believe the gospel and put our total life into the Lamb.