|In Jesus Paul saw the fulfillment of the invitation: “Be holy as I am holy”|
Polycarp, Bishop of
Philippians 3:2-3 (60-159 A.D.) Smyrna
Paul still encourages us after all these years. Each time we prayerfully read his letters we find them “alive and active” (Heb. 4:12); activating our holiness and alive with the graces we require. At the beginning of the fifth chapter of Ephesians, Paul invites us to “Be imitators of God” (5:1). Through his letter to the Corinthians he tells us we are holy and he addresses us as such: “To the holy ones…called to be holy” (1 Cor. 1:2). Paul knew that we are already created in God’s image and likeness (Gn. 26-27). He also knew that we fall short of being the image of God (Rm. 3:23). In the Gospel of Matthew Jesus asks us to “Be perfect as your Father in heaven is perfect” (Mt. 5:8). Fr. Norm Langenbrunner explains:
“The Greek word Matthew uses is teleios, often translated as perfect. Paul uses the same term in First Corinthians where it is translated as ‘mature’(2:6) and ‘complete’(13:10). Mature implies ‘full growth.’ Is this what Jesus is implying? The Hebrew word for teleios is ta’am ‘to be complete, be duplicated, to be a twin.’ Jesus is urging us to be a spitting image of the Father. God’s completeness far surpasses a human’s. In the context of the Sermon on the Mount Jesus is saying ‘Grow up! Go for it! Be all you can be!’ We’ll never be as perfect as God but we can be complete.”
In Jesus Paul saw the fulfillment of the invitation: “Be holy as I am holy” (Lev. 19:2). Paul remembered the promises God made through the prophets: “I will pour out my spirit” (Ezek. 29:39; Zech. 12:1). All of God’s promises find their “yes,” their fulfillment, in Jesus. God is faithful, good, true, and beautiful and brings all to life; Jesus reveals God’s love and what it means to be fully human. “Yes” has always been in Jesus (cf. 2 Cor. 1:18-22). To become what God is calling us to become, we live in the manner Jesus did. When we are faithful we reflect God’s glory. To make that possible, God has established, anointed, and sealed us with the Spirit.
In Chapter 5 of his letter to the Romans, Paul describes this good news as the Spirit poured into our hearts. The nature of love is to spill over. The Spirit, according to Paul, is God within us speaking the language God understands. Our very identity is the temple of the Spirit where God dwells (Church). Benedict XVI writes:
“If Christ Himself is inside me and I inside him, the two of us are not separate individuals. This is where the doctrine of the Body of Christ begins, because we are all incorporated...in Christ Himself.”
|Live in us so that we may|
overflow with you
and radiate you.
Lectio Divina Praying with the Word of God
TRUTH. Read: Eph. 4:11-13. Blessed Alberione tells us that without Christification there is no authentic proclamation: “Your own identity with Christ is the indispensable premise for being able to preach. The entire Pauline life and mission is an act of proclamation” (Fr. Silvio Sassi, S.S.P.).
WAY. Meditate: The Vatican II document Lumen gentium confirms our call to reflect God’s holiness. Through each of us the Church makes Christ present. The same Spirit who anointed Jesus has anointed us – we have been “Christed” or christened at Baptism as priest, prophet, and shepherd-king. The word “anointed” (Greek: Christos “the anointed one”) appears six times in reference to Jesus in the New Testament. In Lk. 4:21 Jesus quotes Scripture saying that he is the awaited Christ: “God has anointed me…this scripture passage is fulfilled in your hearing.” In the letters of Paul the word “anointed” appears once and in reference to our anointing. “He anointed us, set his seal of ownership on us, and put his Spirit in our hearts” (2 Cor. 1: 22).
LIFE. Pray: Christening, also known as Baptism, literally means “to bring to Christ.” Let us thank God for the gift of Baptism and the indwelling Spirit of God.
LIVE. Act: The first work of the Pauline and the first task of the Pauline Family is to be an image of the Father in the Son, the image of the invisible God, firstborn of all creation (Col. 1:15) through the Spirit. This conformity to the Master is our response of love to the love coming from the Father: “Those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires” (Rom. 8:5).
Jesus Master, we thank you for having made yourself our model. You left us examples of the highest perfection. You invite us to follow you on earth and in heaven. We contemplate you during your earthly life. We place ourselves in your school. Draw us to you. Fill all our powers with yourself. Spill your love into us. Live in us so that we may overflow with you and radiate you. (cf. Blessed James Alberione, Prayers of the Pauline Family).____________________
Sr. Margaret Kerry celebrates 40 years of life and mission as a Daughter of St. Paul. With a Masters from Boston College School of Theology & Ministry, she gives presentations on the vocation and mission of the laity, media literacy, and evangelization. She directed the Association of Pauline Cooperators for 15 years and was creative editor of The Pauline Cooperator magazine. An author (St. Anthony of Padua: Fire & Light; Strength in Darkness: John of the Cross), Sr. Margaret is working on a young adult book. You can reach her at firstname.lastname@example.org.