‘For me living is Christ’
These words were the motto for my ordination ceremony. These words inspire me and always give me energy in my religious and priestly ministry.
It is a constant reminder that we are not alone in our missionary work; we are all called at our baptism to be the hands, the feet, the face, the heart of God as we serve our brothers and sisters.
Today’s first Reading is St. Paul’s letter to the Philippians which he wrote when he was in jail, in Roman custody. Paul knows that there is a possibility of his being put to death.
In his optimism in the face of death, he urges his brothers and sisters in Philippi to imitate his capacity to rejoice in the Lord despite one’s circumstances; “Christ will be exalted now as always in my body, whether by life or by death. For me, living is Christ and dying is gain.”
Paul assures the Philippians that his imprisonment is helping to spread the Christian message, rather than hindering it. St. Paul invites the people of Philippi to live life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ; he invites them all to stand firm – one in the Spirit, striving side by side with one mind, one soul, and one heart in their Faith in Christ Jesus.
What does this message to the Philippians mean for us, today?
What does ‘to live is Christ’ mean?
“To live is Christ”,
• Does it mean that we proclaim the gospel of Christ?
• Does it mean that we imitate the example of Christ?
• Does it mean that we pursue the knowledge of Christ so that we can closely follow Him?
• Does it mean that we are willing to give up anything that prevents us from loving Christ?
• Does it mean that Christ is our focus, our goal, and our chief desire?
• Does it mean that Christ is the center point of our mind, heart, body, and soul?
• Does it mean that everything that we do, we do for Christ’s glory?
This Sunday’s readings invite all of us to live our life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ.
We may ask ourselves, “How do I live out my faith?”
Based on today’s reading let me share with you 3 principles that would help us to become closer to God and to become witnesses of the Gospel of Christ.
1. Learning to seek God’s presence every day (Isaiah 56:1): the people of Israel were captured and exiled to Babylon because of their infidelity to the covenant and failure to seek God; they found satisfaction and fulfillment in worldly things.
The Prophet Isaiah urges the people of Israel to seek Him and to find favor in Him because He is full of mercy and ready to forgive their iniquities. Isaiah extends this invitation to all of us to seek Creator in everything.
Let us remember that God is a faithful God who never abandons us; sometimes our eyes, our ears and our heart are closed and we feel lost. When this happens, we can pray to the Holy Spirit to heal us and help us to see God, to hear God’s voice and to love like our Creator.
This seeking is the conscious effort to discover that Creator is always there, waiting for us, calling us in the midst of all our experiences. This is what seeking God means.
2. Learning to understand that my ways are not God’s ways: ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts nor are your ways My ways’ (Isaiah 55:8). Creator does not think or act the way we do. He does things His way, and His ways are often not our ways. It is not only true that we can never fully understand God; it is also true that we can never fully understand any single thing about God. His greatness (Ps. 145:3), his understanding (Ps. 147:5), his knowledge (Ps. 139:6), his riches, wisdom, judgments, and ways (Rom. 11:33) are all beyond our ability to understand fully.
As the elders say, “our Creator is a loving God beyond our understanding.” Israel feared that God would punish them for their infidelity and so God sent them the prophets who told them repeatedly that God’s justice is mercy and compassion.
For our narrow human minds, God is an incomprehensible God. By God’s grace, and by our openness to His love, we come to a place of utter dependence and undivided heart – where we can follow Him closely.
3. Learning to appreciate God’s goodness and His Generosity. In the parable (Mt 20. 1-16) the laborers who were hired in the morning and at noon were displeased and grumbled against the landowner because they considered it an unjust act for the landowner who paid the same wages to those who were hired at five o’clock as to those who came and worked only at the last hour. Interestingly we see the landowner saying to these complaining laborers, ‘I choose to give to this last the same as I give to you’. Then He asks an incisive question, ‘Are you envious because I am generous? Obviously, the grumbling workers failed to appreciate the generosity of the Landowner. This parable points to altruism, justice, uprightness, and magnanimity of the Landowner.
For us, it is important to acknowledge the gifts that Creator has showered upon us. These are the gifts with which we are called to serve and build the “City of God.” Let us, then, with joy, give thanks and praise to God for his never-ending love, generosity and compassion that calls us to be missionary disciples of Jesus Christ.
Like St. Paul, our founder St. Eugene is inviting every one of us to ‘imitate Christ’ and continue to witness Him and His abounding love in our lives. May Almighty God continue to help us so that we may live our life in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ Jesus.
By Vijay Deivanayagam, OMI – Vocation Contact Central