Effective Action: Working out our own salvation

As we begin a new year, several good questions to ask ourselves are: What is the state of our spiritual health? What is our responsibility when it comes to our spiritual well-being? How does this relate to salvation?

If we look to St. Paul, we'll find that he is quick to point out that we are to "work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."

We find these words in Paul's Letter to the Philippians, the Epistle passage appointed for the Feast of the Circumcision which we celebrated on New Year's Day. To work out our own salvation: what better words to start out a new year!

When we stop to think about it, we really do have a responsibility in working out our own salvation. It's a two-sided issue: on one hand, God works in us a desire for salvation, while on the other hand, salvation is in our own hands.

There is no doubt that the work of salvation is begun, continued, and ended in God.

But, however much God works to put the desire in us, without our co-operation, God's work in us will not come to fruition.

We might ask: How can that be seeing that God is all powerful and all knowing and all loving?

Well, it goes back to our very creation when we were created with "free will" in the image of God, endowed with the ability to accept or refuse God's Grace and Love.

So, according to St. Paul, just saying, "I accept God's gift of salvation" is not sufficient in itself. We must of ourselves give continual evidence in our daily lives that we are truly working out our own salvation.

This continual evidence is what we call "effective action." This is where our resolve comes into play.

How can we complete our journey towards God if we continue with the same habits, same life-styles, falling prey to the same temptations, and subject to the same failures time and again?

"Effective action" is what we do on our part to stay on the straight and narrow road that leads us to our salvation.

One sign of that "effective action" is when we are afraid not of God hurting us but rather that we may somehow grieve or hurt God through our own failings.

Another sign is the peace and certainty that comes when we put our trust in God and put aside our own rebellious nature.

There is also the idea of Christian purity, being without spot of blemish before God and an example of the Christian life for the world to see. No small task!

We, as Christians, are to be "lights in the world." We are to be witnesses; much, much more than that, our very lives are to be a witness.

The expectation is over-whelming; yet, all is within our grasp.

That is the beauty and the hope of the Incarnation.

With the Incarnation, mankind was brought into a new relationship with God and the impossible became possible.

Truly, when we confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, everything becomes possible.