January 25, 2017, Wednesday
The Conversion of Saint Paul, Apostle
Acts 9:1-22 or 22:3-16; Psalm 117; Mark 16:15-18.
“Go Out To All The World
And Tell The Good News.”
Acts 9:1-22: Saul was a smart, educated man. He was also about as religious as you could get by keeping rules. He saw the Christians as unfaithful Jews. And he was so convinced he was right that he got himself commissioned to “arrest and bring to Jerusalem anyone he might find, man or woman, living according to the New Way.”
Saul was so sure he was seeing everything right that to convince him otherwise God had to strike him blind. While he had Saul’s attention, Jesus introduced himself: “I am Jesus, the one you are persecuting.”
Saul could have answered, “I am not persecuting you. I am persecuting your followers.” But Saul understood. He knew from that minute that Jesus was telling him he and his followers were one and the same. And that is the Good News Saul, renamed Paul, preached for the rest of his life: “this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory.” From then on, it was the way he identified himself: “It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me.” His ministry was to let Jesus act in him and through him: “I will not speak of anything except what Christ has accomplished through me.” What he says of himself is true of us also.
Everything is rooted in Christ’s death on the cross. As Hebrews keeps insisting, Jesus died as our “high priest” who “entered the sanctuary once for all, taking with him... his own blood, and achieved eternal redemption” for us. Because we died and rose in Christ, we live now in Christ and he in us. That is the “source and summit” of Christian life and ministry.
The love of Christ urges us on, because we are convinced that one has died for all; therefore all have died. And he died for all, so that those who live might live no longer for themselves, but for him who died and was raised for them.
It is essential to the credibility of our ministry that people see we could not give ourselves as we do, especially when hardships are involved, if we were acting by human power or love alone.
We are always carrying in the body the death of Jesus, so that the life of Jesus may also be made visible in our bodies. For while we live, we are always being given up to death for Jesus' sake, so that the life of Jesus may be made visible in our mortal flesh.
This is the key to all Christian life and ministry. To live on the level of God by grace so that we can effectively do what the words of Mark 16:15-18 charge us to do: “Go into the whole world and proclaim the good news to all creation. The one who believes in it and accepts Baptism will be saved.”
We need to remember that for Paul, to be “saved” meant to “become Christ.” He saw his ministry as bringing Christ first to birth, and then to “full stature” in those who “presented their bodies as a living sacrifice” to be his body on earth.
Naturally, all who were evangelized were expected to be evangelizers. That is why Jesus promised that “signs will accompany those who believe.” The “signs” are anything that makes “the life of Jesus visible in our bodies” and wins credibility for the Gospel.
Meditation: What is visible in my lifestyle that reveals divine faith? Hope? Love?
Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20; Romans 15:17-18.
Hebrews 9:11-15; 2Corinthians 4:10-11, 5:14-21.
 Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:7-16; Colossians 1:27; Romans 12:1-2.
Same day: January 25, 2017
Wednesday, Week Three, Year I (extra)
Hebrews 10:11-18; Psalm 110; Mark 4:1-20.
We Live In Two Time Frames
To understand Hebrews — and the Mass —we have to acknowledge two time frames. In our human one the past is gone and the future has not yet arrived. In God’s time the past, present and future are all one eternal “now.” That is why, in the Mass, the past event of Calvary is truly present now, and we celebrate the future coming of Jesus in triumph as an accomplished fact. In the Rite of Communion we are present at the “wedding banquet of the Lamb.”
At Baptism we entered into the “single sacrifice for sins” that Christ “offered for all time.” On the cross we died in him, rose in him, and were “made perfect” forever. “For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.” Then Jesus “took his seat forever at the right hand of God.” In God’s time.
The key to this is: “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.”
Jesus “has abolished the law with its commandments and ordinances” — its repeated human rituals — that he might create in himself one new humanity in place of the two, thus making peace, and might reconcile [the human race] to God in one body through the cross….”
The glory of God in the “end time” is the fulfillment of God’s plan that Christ should unite everything in heaven and on earth in himself as “gathered up,” “summed up,” “recapitulated,” “brought together” as one body under himself as head. In God’s time the whole body of Christ is already perfect.
What we will see when Jesus comes in triumph is “that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature,” Christ shining through the glorified Church, which is “his body, the fullness of him who fills all in all.”
But in our time we are still forming now, through our choices and spiritual development, that “perfect man” who is the “end,” the guiding goal, the perfection and purpose of creation.
Thus we are “perfect” and not perfect. We don’t keep “offering again and again those same sacrifices” to take away our sins or bring about our perfection; in God’s time that is an accomplished fact. In the Mass we keep making present the Sacrifice which accomplished this once and for all so that we might be aware of it: aware of the mystery and goal of our lives, and be encouraged — strengthened in faith, hope and love — to live it out in our time. We celebrate in the Mass the “source and summit” of our salvation, the beginning and the end, Christ’s Sacrifice and the fruit of it, his victory and ours. “By a single sacrifice he has brought us to what is perfect [to “what is the end”] forever.”
To “enter in” to that perfection definitively we simply have to persevere, to hold on to what we have. By Baptism “into Christ’s death” we have “become Christ,” his risen body on earth. All we have to do is be his body, live by the gift of divine life given to us, until “our time” comes to its conclusion and we enter into God’s time forever. “Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired, but a body you have prepared for me.” God sees “the perfect man” now in us who were “chosen in Christ before the foundation of the world to be holy and blameless before him in love.”
Meditation: 1.During Mass am I aware of being present to: a) the source; b) the summit of my Christian life? 2. What is encouraging in this?