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  • Father David M. Knight

Father David's Reflection for Friday of Week Twenty-One (Ordinary Time)

Paul couldn’t put it more bluntly than he does in 1Thessalonians 4:1-8: “It is God’s will that you grow in

holiness.” When the Responsorial (Psalm 97) says, “Let the good rejoice in the Lord", it is taken for granted that the “good” are those who are trying to become better. To be in union with Jesus is to accept the goal of his coming to earth: “I came that they might have life, and have it to the full.” God cannot love or give himself partially. To accept him as he is, we have to give all for All.

But we do it in stages. Jesus says, “Be perfect, therefore, as your heavenly Father is perfect.” He doesn’t say to do it overnight. There are five steps.

First we have to accept the new identity we receive in Baptism and proclaim in the Introductory Rites of Mass. We have “become Christ.” So we live now for nothing but to let Jesus live and act through us as his risen body on earth.

Second, we have to learn in order to be able to live as Christ. Paul writes: “You must learn to make still greater progress.” The Liturgy of the Word calls and helps us to be disciples.

Third, and implicit in the above, we need to dedicate ourselves to continual conversion of life. We express this commitment in the Presentation of Gifts. The bread and wine “when first brought to the altar” are “simply signs of ourselves and of our self-giving.” They are “very imperfect signs of very imperfect creatures... ‘what earth has given and human hands have made.’” But we place them on the altar, and place ourselves there with them, to be transformed into the “bread of life.” This speaks of the messianic anointing of Baptism that consecrated us to continue the mission of Jesus Priest, Prophet and King. As prophets we pledge to bear witness by a lifestyle that cannot be explained except by the life of the risen Jesus and his Spirit in us.[1]

The Eucharistic Prayer focuses on the fourth step, acceptance of our baptismal consecration as “priests in the Priest” and inseparably “victims in the Victim.” With and in Christ, we offer our bodies, our “flesh for the life of the world,” to be the medium of Christ’s life-giving self-expression to all with whom we deal. This “sharing” (koinonia):

implies the community which the Eucharist strengthens and deepens [but also] points to that sacrificial dying to self through which alone true community is possible.... Christian love means finding life and fulfillment with other people through being unselfish toward them and ever at their service.

As priests we grow to the “perfection of love” by making every interaction with others ministry.[2]

Finally, (see Sundays Twenty-two to Thirty-four) the Rite of Communion supports the total gift of ourselves as stewards of the kingship of Christ who dedicate all we have and are to the establishment of his reign over every area and activity of human life on earth.

Matthew 25:1-13 tells us it is not enough to have the light; we need to keep fueling it by an intentional life.

Initiative: Feed the flame of truth and love in your heart. Plan your growth.

[1] The New Dictionary of Theology, loc. cit.

[2] Ibid. Emphasis added. See Vatican II, “Decree on Ecumenism,” no. 4;; “The Church,” nos. 39-40.

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