January 22, 2015
Thursday of week 2 in Ordinary Time
Jesus (Almost) Always Saves
Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him
Some came to Jesus to hear his voice. Some came just to be healed. They never knew him.
He had cured many and, as a result, those who had diseases were pressing upon him to touch him. And whenever unclean spirits saw him they would fall down before him and shout, “You are the Son of God.” He warned them sternly not to make him known.
Jesus did not want to be identified as a healer. He healed out of compassion and to make his words credible. But the reason he came was to preach words of life. He said “It is the spirit that gives life; the flesh is useless. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life” (John 6:63).
He said this in the context of promising the Eucharist, which makes present in our time and place the great word of love that Jesus made flesh on the cross. The people who just came for healing, or to hear words that made them “feel good,” neither understood nor accepted the mystery of participating in his death and resurrection:
“Very truly, I tell you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life, and I will raise them up on the last day; for my flesh is true food and my blood is true drink. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them….” When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This teaching is difficult; who can accept it?”
To “eat the flesh and drink the blood” of a sacrifice is to accept the sacrifice and in all it expresses. It is an act of participation.
To accept Jesus as Priest, we must accept to become “priests in the Priest” by Baptism, which also makes us “victims in the Victim.” Every time we “eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood” at Mass, we “proclaim his death and profess his resurrection” as something we ourselves are committed to make visible in our lifestyle “until he comes again.” If we do not come to Jesus—or to Mass—to do this, we are coming under false pretenses, for the wrong reason. The letter to the Hebrews says, “Jesus is always able to save those who approach God through him.” But we have to approach God through him, with him and in him hanging on the cross as Priest and Victim. This means we must present ourselves to the Father as members of the body of his Son.
Do you not know that all of us who have been baptized into Christ Jesus were baptized into his death? Therefore we have been buried with him by baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, so we too might walk in newness of life.
We know that our old self was crucified with him [in Greek “co-crucified,” sunestaurwyh] so that the body of sin might be destroyed, and we might no longer be enslaved to sin. For whoever has died is freed from sin.
But if we have died with Christ, we believe that we will also live with him… So you also must consider yourselves dead to sin and alive to God in Christ Jesus (Romans 6:3; and see Galatians 2:20).
Jesus saves those who come to him for what he came to give. He came to give life through death: his death and our dying “in him.”
Do I choose death in Christ for the sake of life in Christ?
Pray on waking and all day: “Jesus, I give you my body! Live this day with me, live this day in me, live this day through me.
Practice: Form the habit of “dying to self” by living for Jesus and others.
Discuss: What do you go to Mass for?