"Brethren, We are debtors, not to the flesh, that we should live according to the flesh." 1
What we are debtors to is the spirit. That is to say that by our own efforts alone we are not able to do anything that would earn us our eternal salvation. We might be able to do marvelous things in the material world: build bridges, play violins, write great works of literature, and maybe even fly to the moon. But in spite of our great worldly abilities, we would not be able to do anything to draw closer to God without His help. Our forefather Adam lost that for us. Even if we are in the state of grace, just as Adam was before the fall, any additional graces come as free gifts from God.
That might seem frightening -- as, perhaps, it should. Being dependent upon others is disconcerting for most of us. But, St. Paul explains that our relationship with God can be a very comfortable one. God is not like a business man who will demand a strict standard of accounting; He is not one Who measures our His graces dollar for dollar or pound for pound. St. Paul tells us that He is like a father who has adopted us and taken us into His family. In fact, the word he uses here, "Abba," is a very familiar form of address -- perhaps more like "Dad" than "Father." What he is saying then, it that we a very good situation -- that we have some how been adopted into an inheritance -- an inheritance to which we would have no other right if God our Father, "Abba," were not so generous.
Of course, like any parent, the Father in heaven, expects something from us. It is relatively little in comparison to what we may expect to receive in return, but it is not something to overlook. We all can understand it, whether we have had children or not; what we would expect from our children. Certainly, no parent expects to get wealthy raising them. We do expect a little effort with the things that need to be done around the house; but much more importantly, we expect our love and our attentions to be returned. We hope our children will have some time to spend with us -- because they want to and not because they have to. God is much the same. He grants us great graces in reward for little acts of love.
And, just as with a human parent, we can show God our love without a great deal of difficulty or expense. A phone call to Mom on Mother's Day causes her great joy -- not because you spent the "princely" sum of 3 or 4 dollars! -- but because you made the effort when you didn't have to. Sharing your time is certainly more important than the money you spent.
Well, likewise with God. Most of us could get to Mass a day or two during the week without spending a great deal of money. We could stop by the church and make a visit to our Lord in the Blessed Sacrament. We could be sure to keep up our prayer life -- at least in the morning, and then again in the evening before we retire. How about saying the Rosary every day -- five decades a day takes relatively little effort if do nothing more than make use of that "dead time" we all experience: On line at the super market (instead of reading about the space aliens), when we are sitting in traffic, or maybe when we take a walk in the morning. How about doing some spiritual reading, or the life of a saint, or a daily chapter from the Scriptures.
None of these things are terribly costly, nor even all that time consuming. But they are precisely the kinds of things that "Abba," our Father in heaven wants from us.
Our Lord puts it in a parable that all of us can understand. He is not advocating that we steal from our employer or anyone else to better our situations. What He is saying is that if we are as smart as worldly people are smart, we will make good use of the situation we have with our Father in Heaven. We will take advantage of our Father's generosity to pile up treasures in heaven, even before we need them. We have the opportunity now to put "credits on our ledger"; an opportunity we will loose at the moment of death, for the souls in Purgatory can gain no merit at all for the things we find so easy in this world. Some of the suffering in Purgatory has to be "remorse"; the regret that we have for the things we could have done, but simply didn't bother to do.
So, do be as prudent as the children of the world. Spend some time with Abba, our Father, and garner the rich inheritance He extends to us. Mass, prayer, meditation, spiritual reading, and so on -- all of these things, "so that when you fail, He may receive you into His everlasting dwellings." 2