Saturday, January 22, 2011

For A Distinctive Way of Life

Dear Parish Faithful,

The epistle reading for Sunday – COL. 3:12-16 - is one of those incredible texts that basically summarizes the Christian life in a tightly-packed passage that is astonishingly rich in content; formidable in its challenge; and deeply inspiring in its implications for a distinctive way of life. All this in five verses! St. Paul exhorts the Colossians then, and us today, in the following manner:

Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other; as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive. And over all these put on love, which binds everything in perfect harmony. And let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, to which indeed you were called in the one body. And be thankful. Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as you teach and admonish one another in all wisdom, and as you sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs with thankfulness in your hearts to God.

It is rather amazing to think of the extent to which the Apostle Paul has assimilated the Gospel image of Christ and the evangelical precepts of Christ. Such a passage further substantiates the claim of the Apostle Paul found in his passionate Epistle to the Galatians:

I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ Who lives in me; and the life I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave himself for me. (GAL. 2:20)

These are two of the precious “fragments” from the inexhaustible riches of the New Testament. If St. Paul is describing who we would like to be; perhaps we can – in addition to being inspired by such a passage – deeply reflect on just what it is that prevents us from living up to and actualizing such a way of life in the present moment of our own lives. This is why the saints teach us that repentance is an ongoing process that continually opens us up to the future “impossible possibilities” that depend on the grace of God working with our own personal freedom.

Fr. Steven

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