Daily Office Readings for Thursday, of Proper 15: Year 1
“I have a hope in God—a hope that they themselves also accept—that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the unrighteous:” (Acts 24: 15).
After his accusers use their smooth talk by buttering up Felix the Governor, trying to persuade him to execute Paul, Paul now speaks and states his case about how he has not changed the Hebrew Law and still believes in what they believe, to include the resurrection.
Paul proclaims that there will be a resurrection of both the Good and the bad – the righteous and the unrighteous. And just as he stood before Felix then, all humanity will stand before the Great Throne of God where the Judge of life will gaze upon the content of our hearts.
I believe what is found in our hearts will state our case far more than whatever our earthly actions were. Our earthly witnesses may have seen us do or say something that they considered sinful, or even evil. But God looks upon us and loves us and sees the “why” of our ways. Back when Paul was Saul, he went about doing what he thought in his heart, was what God wanted of him. It was not until our Risen Lord Jesus met him on the Road to Damascus that he was changed forever.
Our Lord Jesus teaches us that God knows our hearts and has mercy on us. Our only hope in the resurrection is that God in Christ Jesus has mercy on us, forgives us, and accepts us into eternal glory. But like Saul to Paul who stands before Felix, we stand before our Lord. We can’t fix ourselves. We need our Maker to fix us but we have to want it first.
If we want it, we must pray our Opening Collect as seriously as we can. “Almighty God, to you all hearts are open, all desires known, and from you no secrets are hid: Cleanse the thoughts of our hearts by the inspiration of your Holy Spirit, that we may perfectly love you, and worthily magnify your holy Name; through Christ our Lord. Amen.” (1979 Book of Common Prayer; page 355)
We must understand that we will be raised from the dead. Of course, I don’t know what that will be like. I haven’t been there. It doesn’t really make any difference how we die or how our end of life is remembered, be it cremation, traditional burial, drowned at sea or blown to smithereens. God will bring us before the Great Throne. There we will be judged. It is important that we believe this and in believing it, we conduct our lives now in accordance with a righteous heart. We do this with the help of our Lord. And the Lord of lords will help us if we just try to love one another.
Let us live to love, serve and teach, rather than just live to live, listening to what the Spirit is saying through the saints and to us, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John