Immersed in Christ: January 25, 2021
Feast of The Conversion of Saint Paul
Acts 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 all the 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 wasn’t dumb. 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.1
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.2
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.3
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?
1 Colossians 1:27; Galatians 2:20; Romans 15:17-18. 2 Hebrews 9:11-15; 2Corinthians 4:10-11, 5:14-21. 3 Galatians 4:19; Ephesians 4:7-16; Colossians 1:27; Romans 12:1-2.