Thursday, February 19, 2015

Bishop’s Note: February 19th - The Last Words of Jesus

Bishop Eric Menees  

“Remember that you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” With these words, we receive the gritty sign of the cross on our foreheads, made with ashes.  On Ash Wednesday we are asked to think of our own mortality, but throughout the season of Lent we are invited to think of a more important death – that of Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God. 

Throughout Lent my Bishop’s Notes will focus on the Seven Last Words of Jesus.  These statements - recorded in the Gospels of Matthew, Luke, and John - give us insight into the meaning of Jesus’ death.

The first of the “Last Words” is taken from Luke 23:34: “And Jesus said, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.” 

What extraordinary words!  In the midst of such suffering, inflicted without cause, Jesus intercedes to his Father - on behalf of his tormentors - for mercy.  Jesus, indeed, practiced what he preached.  Not only did he turn the other cheek (Mt. 5:39), he offered his life as the perfect sacrifice for sin.

Of course, for those of us who know and are known by Jesus, it makes perfect sense – Jesus is all about forgiveness.  In fact, that is the whole point of the cross.  

Because of Jesus’ sacrifice, forgiveness is offered to all who repent and turn to him.  How beautiful it is to know that God not only forgives our sins, He wipes our sins away. 

Too many people do not know that forgiveness is theirs, if they would but repent – confess their sins to God, ask for forgiveness with a contrite heart, and seek amendment of life.

Let me ask you: Do you really believe that God can and will forgive your sins?  This week, will you take the time to examine your life and - where you are in sin - ask for God’s forgiveness?  Will you share with one other person about the joy of receiving God’s forgiveness and grace?

I pray you all a Holy and Blessed Lent!

Bishop Menees

Catechism Questions 76 - 78

76.    Should you be afraid of God's judgment?
The unrepentant should fear God's judgment, for “the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness,” but for those who are in Christ, there is no condemnation. I have no reason to fear the coming judgment, for my Judge is my Savior Jesus Christ, who loves me, died for me, and intercedes for me. (Romans 1:18; 8:1, 31-34)

77.    What does Scripture mean when it tells you to fear God?
It means that I should live mindful of his presence, walking in humility as his creature, resisting sin, obeying his commandments, and reverencing him for his holiness, majesty, and power. (Exodus 20:20; Psalm 111:10; Proverbs 8:13; 9:10)

78.    Should you pass judgment on sinners or non-Christians? 

No. God alone judges those outside the Church. The Church may proclaim God's condemnation of sin and may exercise godly discipline over members who are unrepentant; but I am called only to judge between right and wrong, to judge myself in the light of God's holiness, and to repent of my sins. (Matthew 7:1-5, 1 Corinthians 5:12-13; 11:31)

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