Talk given by Brother Fritz Mascarenhas 
to YACF prayer group on Friday, 21 February 2014

Any one who desires to be an authentic disciple of Jesus must emulate Mary, our Mother. The reason why she is the perfect disciple is because she was open to the action of the Holy Spirit and brought forth Christ into the world. Her unfailing response to God's call was, "Let it be done unto me according to Your word." 

It is the work of the Holy Spirit to transform us in to the image and likeness of Jesus and grace alone enables us to surrender to the Lordship of Jesus.

All our devotions must serve to draw us to God as they are important channels of grace which lead us to one purpose and one purpose alone which is to image Christ in the world. 

Discipleship is not optional.  It is a lifelong process calling for ongoing conversion.  There is a great deal in us that is not Christ like this is why we need grace.   The most powerful channel of grace is the Eucharist. Jesus tells us in John 6:57 “Just as the Father, who is life, sent me and I have life from the Father, so whoever eats me will have life from me.  Just as the Son yielded to the will of the Father so too must we yield our will in perfect submission to the will of the Father and surrender our entire being to Him in love.

Do we see the need to be saved?  
Conversion is a lifelong work because we are battling against three enemies, the world the flesh and the devil who will attack us as long as we are alive on earth.  Christ wants us to persevere and not lose heart in our fight against temptation, sin and evil. He wants us to be victorious in Him. It is only when we have a personal encounter with Jesus that we can echo the words of St. Paul in Phil 3:7 ”But once I found Christ, all those things that I might have considered as profit, I reckoned as loss.  Before his conversion Paul considered himself an exemplary Jew, he was a Pharisee who lived blamelessly before the law.  He discovered the need for authentic conversion only when he met Christ on the road to Damascus and cried out, “Lord what will you have me do.”  It is only when we will realize horror and the enslaving power of sin that we too can cry out for our Savior.  

We are captives to the law of sin and death. St. Paul puts it eloquently in Romans 7:21 “I discover, then, this reality: though I wish to do what is right, the evil with­in me asserts itself first.” Our despair of ever following Jesus would be profound if grace was not available to us.  We know that we must wage a constant battle within us between good and evil and alhough we know what is right, we choose to do what is sinful and thus become slaves to our weaknesses. It is only when we recognize that we are sinners in need of grace that we can yield and surrender to the power of the Holy Spirit. 

God’s mercy and grace is free and is available to us through Jesus Christ, our Lord. An authentic spirituality is possible only when we are humble before God.  There is no room for self-righteousness in our discipleship with Jesus.  No matter how gravely we sin we must never doubt the love of God and the knowledge that we are loved passionately, generously and intensely.  Jesus assures us that He loves us with the same passion, intensity and generosity with which His Father loves Him, “As the Father has loved me, so I have loved you; remain in my love.” John 15:9

“Christianity is a saving religion.” (Bl.JP II).  Sin seeks to enslave, kill and destroy and unless we recognize the horror of sin and our inability to save ourselves we cannot encounter Jesus as our personal Savior and Redeemer.  God is love and it is the nature of love to reach out, heal, save and bless; this is precisely what the Father has done by sending His Son into the world to save us.  Only when we are drowning do we reach out our hand for help.  Without Jesus we drown but like St. Paul we glory in our weakness and the awareness of our need of His saving help and with him we too can claim the promise of Christ who says, “My grace is enough for you; my great strength is revealed in weakness.” Gladly, then, will I boast of my weakness that the strength of Christ may be mine. 2 COR 12:9 

Jesus’ ministry is outlined in these verses in Luke 4:18  “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me. He has anointed me to bring good news to the poor, to proclaim liberty to captives and new sight to the blind; to free the oppressed….”

We must recognize that Jesus came to set us free from sin.  He came face to face with our fallen nature and gave us hope. He invites us to come to Him and promises to provide all that we need.  Romans 8:1  reminds us that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus.  And Rom 5:17 tells us that Jesus knows what the sin of our first parents has done to us.  Healing and restoration can be ours through Christ only when we come face to face with the reality of sin in our life.  However let us remember and glory in the truth that there is no room for discouragement for those who are followers of Christ for He came precisely to seek and save the lost.

(Myra D'Souza)

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