Immersed in Christ: July 17, 2020
Friday of the Fifteenth Week in Ordinary Time
The Responsorial Psalm reminds us that God is the Lord of death and of life: “You saved my life, O Lord, I shall not die “ (Isaiah 38).
In Isaiah 38: 1-22 God grants Hezekiah a “stay of execution.” Hezekiah is going to die, but God delays his death by fifteen years. And as a sign that he will do this he delays the setting of the sun for a few hours. Neither death nor night is cancelled; both are simply delayed. And Hezekiah mourns the truth that all life is terminal in his lament: “My dwelling, like a shepherd’s tent, is struck down and borne away from me. You have folded up my life, like a weaver who severs the last thread.” If Hezekiah said, “You saved my life, O Lord, I shall not die, “ he would have had to add, “At least, not yet.”
Jesus changed all this. He said, “Everyone who lives and believes in me will never die,” and “I am the living bread that came down from heaven. Whoever eats of this bread will live forever.”1 In Masses celebrating Christian death the Church proclaims, “For your faithful people life is changed, not ended…. [Jesus] chose to die that he might free all people from dying.”2 When we say, “You saved my life, O Lord, I shall not die, “ we mean it absolutely. Jesus did not just delay the coming of night; he abolished darkness forever. In the “new Jerusalem”
there will be no more night; they need no light of lamp or sun…. The city has no need of sun or moon to shine on it, for the glory of God is its light, and its lamp is the Lamb. 4
Jesus came that we might “have life, and have it to the full” — now and forever! 3
In Matthew 12: 1-8 Jesus reveals that he is not just another prophet calling people back to observance of the Law. He is “Lord of the Sabbath” and Lord of the Law itself. He came to establish a New Covenant and a New Law — one that would be, not just the “manufacturer’s instructions” for getting the most out of human life, but a law for living “life to the full,” divine life, life on the level of God.
This is why Christians must never fall into the “ministry of moralizing,” just insisting on good human behavior that avoids sin. Christian ministry that does not constantly hold up the vision of “life to the full” soon reverts to the nitpicking legalism of the Pharisees who couldn’t see the forest for the trees or understand love as anything but law. Christian ministry is love calling us to love, divine life calling us to be divine, Christ calling us to be Christ. 5 “When we say, “You saved my life,” we mean “transformed.”
Initiative: Be a priest. Be Christ calling others to be Christ.
1 John 11:26; 6:51
2 Prefaces I and II for Christian Death.
3 Revelation 22:5; 21:23.
4 John 10:10
5 See St. Augustine, quoted above for 12th Sunday.
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