Second Reading: Galatians 2:16, 19-21

Getting Close To God

What does it take to have a good relationship with God?

Popular Translation

16 We know that no one can have a good relationship with God by simply obeying his Law. We have a good relationship with God because we believe in Jesus Christ.

21 Once I followed the Law, but, then, I died to God's Law, so I could live for God. I have been nailed to the cross along with Jesus. 21 I'm not really alive, it is Jesus that lives in me. I live now because I believe in God's Son. He loved me and gave his life for me. 21 I did not reject God's help. For, if I could have a good relationship with God by just obeying his Law, then there wasn't any good reason for Jesus to die.

Literal Translation

16 We know that man is not made righteous from works of the Law but through faith in JESUS CHRIST, and we believed in CHRIST JESUS, so that we might be made righteous from faith in CHRIST and not from works of the Law, since all flesh will not be made righteous from works of the Law.

19 For through the Law, I died to the Law, so that I might be alive to God. I have been crucified (together) with CHRIST. 20 I no longer live, but CHRIST lives in me, but what I live now in (the) flesh, I live in faith of the SON OF GOD, the (ONE) having loved me and having given HIMSELF over on my behalf. 21 I did not do away with the grace of God, for if righteousness (is) through the Law, then CHRIST died as an (worthless) gift.

What can we do to get closer to God? On the surface, this question might seem a little absurd. Obviously we can't close the gap between creature and Creator. But, underneath, we all try. If I worship in the right way, if I read the right book, if I treat others in the right way, I might just please God. We all play the impossible game of "God will love me more if I..." If that remains the sole focus of our spiritual quest, we will "spin our wheels" at best, simply give up at worst. Obviously, there's just got to be more in our spiritual journey than what I do.

Of course, the answer to the dilemma is simple. Our spiritual growth depends more on what God does for us than what we do for God. This was St. Paul's message to the Galatians. Cut through the redundancies of his writing, and you will find that message. To realize what God is doing in our lives, we need to give up our spiritual narcissism and trust God to be in charge. In other words, we need to die to ourselves, so Christ can live in us. We need to make room in our minds and hearts for God, then we will realize he is already close.

If that's true, then, what good is worship, spiritual exercises, and moral living. These are all important, but as means to an end, not as an end in itself. These do help us get closer to God, but only if they allow God to come closer. They cannot justify us to God or to ourselves. They are ways God can touch us.

Dying to self also means getting our egos out of God's way. Dying to self means placing our trust in God and his will.

How have you died to yourself today? How can you allow Christ to live in you?