Be Christ, Love Like Christ
Thirtieth Week of Year II Monday October 24, 2016
The Responsorial Psalm roots the Christian life in the mystery of Christian identity: “Behave like God as his very dear children” (Ephesians 5:1 and Psalm 1).
In Ephesians 4:32 to 5:8 Paul puts the Christian life in a nutshell: “Follow the way of love.”
What does this mean, in the concrete? It means to love others “even as Christ loved us.” And he did this by “giving himself as an offering to God.” Compare this with Paul’s baptismal text:
I appeal to you therefore, brothers and sisters, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.”1
This means that, wherever our live bodies are, we will be “sacrificed” to doing the will and work of God. That is what we live for. How do we do this in practice? Three ways:
1. Make everything physical in your lifestyle embody Christ’s values. This is to bear witness as a prophet.
2. Use your body to give visible, expression to the invisible life of grace in your heart (faith, hope, and especially love), and so mediate life to others as priest.
3. Use your body, your physical activity, to make changes in the environment (family and social life, professional and political milieu) as a steward of Christ’s kingship committed to establish the reign of God over every area and activity of human life on earth.
The guiding principle of Christian life is, ““Behave like God as his very dear children.” And why? St. Paul says it is because “your holiness forbids” anything less than this. We live and love like Christ because by Baptism we have “become Christ.” We are his body on earth. Because we are Christ the Son we are filii in Filio, sons and daughters of the Father and temples of his Holy Spirit.
In Luke 13: 10-17 we see Jesus taking the initiative to change something very wrong in Jewish society that is also very prevalent in ours. The priests and Pharisees were so focused on law-observance that they failed to take note of peoples’ pain. Jesus said of them:
They tie up heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on the shoulders of others; but they themselves are unwilling to lift a finger to move them.2
So, unasked, he heals a woman on the Sabbath, knowing the reaction it will provoke. Then he used the reaction to teach Christian priorities. This was an act of leadership. It called the authorities to change.
When anyone — and this includes priests, teachers and parish staff — is unfeeling, anyone who sees it should always react — kindly, respectfully, but firmly.
Initiative: Be Christ’s steward. Insist on the “way of love” with everyone.