To Live is Christ - Our Response
Thursday, February 9, 2023
by Fr. David M. Knight
View readings for today:
Editor's note: Father Knight had many talents. Unfortunately, computer file management was not one of those talents. Thus, I have so far been unable to locate Fr. Knight's reflections on the daily readings from today until Feb 22 (Ash Wednesday). Consequently, starting today, I will post selections from The Five Promises of Baptism on weekdays. (Full copies of the booklet are available here.) On Sundays, I will post reflections on the Mass readings -- if I can find those files! Pray for me! ~~ Lynne Marie
At Baptism, God did not just make promises to us; we also made promises to God. These should not be confused with the general rejection of sin, Satan, and "all his works and empty promises" that the whole congregation makes during the Liturgy of Baptism at the Easter Sunday Vigil Mass. This is sometimes called a "renewal of baptismal promises" but it does not make explicit what those promises are.
These reflections will do that.
The first promise that we make at Baptism is, like the first promise God makes to us, the core and condensation of them all. We promise to accept our new identity. This is a commitment to live as the Christ we have become.
St. Paul puts it clearly:
So if you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things that are above, not on things that are on earth, for you have died, and your life is hidden with Christ in God. When Christ who is your life is revealed, then you also will be revealed with him in glory. (Colossians 3:1-4)
This is simply to accept our new identity. To be authentically Christian we have to "die" to living life in this world according to ordinary human standards. In Baptism, we gave up everything this world holds out to us, just as if we were dead. Then we came back to life again to live in this world under an entirely different set of terms. We came back to life to live as the risen body of Jesus.
Henceforth we live only for what he lived for and wants to live for now in us. We live to continue his presence and his mission in the world. That is all we live for. Everything else that is presented to us as a possible object of choice-every job, every enjoyment, every relationship, every invitation to do anything-we evaluate in terms of how it will help us carry out the mission of Jesus on earth. There is nothing else to live for. We have died, and our old life was buried with Christ. We have been raised up with Christ to be his risen body on earth. Our minds therefore are set on whatever is important to him. That is what we live for. That and nothing else.
This is good news! It gives us new meaning and purpose in life: a meaning and purpose that are divine. It also commits us to living on the level of God. "If you have been raised with Christ, seek the things that are above, where Christ is."
Is this possible?
At first glance this strikes us as impossible. That is a normal reaction. It was the response that Jesus' first disciples made to several things he said. And the answer Jesus gave each time was essentially the same: "For mortals it is impossible, but for God all things are possible." (Matthew 10:16-31)
That is fine in theory. But how do we deal with it in practice? To live with-and live up to-this first and fundamental commitment of our Baptism, we need to do two things:
1) Accept Jesus as divine.
2) Deal with Him as human.
And we need to accept the fact that we cannot always deal with Jesus as divine and human at the same time! Some explanation is needed here.
Living is Being Christ
To live as Christ we have to make Christianity-make our religion our way of life. We have to be able to say with St. Paul, "To me, living is Christ" (Philippians 1:21). Our whole life must consist in living and acting as Christ. If we have "become Christ:' it stands to reason we have to be Christ and act like Christ in everything we do. So there is no longer any distinction between our "religion'' and anything else we engage in. Everything we do, we do as Christ. And because we do everything as Christ, everything we do is different. Everything we do has religious significance and value for us. In fact, that is the only significance and value anything has for us.
If something means nothing in the context of my life as Christ, then it means nothing, period. Each of us says, "To me, living is Christ. It is no longer I who live, but it is Christ who lives in me!" (14Philippians 1:21; Galatians 2:20.)
More tomorrow... and we'll try to post ON TIME tomorrow... :)
Reflections brought to you by the Immersed in Christ Ministry