The Responsorial (Psalm 115) gives us a key to the first reading: “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the
land of the living.” Our God is a God of life, our religion a religion of life. Whatever is deadening does not belong there.
In Genesis 22: 1-19, however, God appears to be a God of death. He tells Abraham, “Take your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and offer him as a burnt offering.”
For most parents that would be the end of their relationship with God. But Abraham is not called “our father in faith” for nothing. He trusted in God so absolutely he was willing to sacrifice his only son, his only hope of posterity, while still “hoping against hope,” that he would become “the father of many nations.” And God did stop him from killing his son. But by testing Abraham he gave us a preview of the sacrifice the Father would make of his own Son on the cross. Our God is a God of life; but life comes at the price of Jesus’ death. And when we minister to others, it is through our “dying to self” in love that we communicate the divine life of God to them.
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.”
In Matthew 9: 1-8 Jesus makes the point that the only real death is sin. When people brought a paralytic to him, instead of doing the obvious thing and healing him, Jesus said, “Take heart, son; your sins are forgiven.”
That man must have been one disappointed paralytic!
But the truth is, sin paralyzes us more than physical paralysis does. Sin is the real sickness, the real death. Nothing else can really harm us. Jesus healed bodies as a sign that he was able to heal souls. It is healing from sin that enables us to say, “I will walk in the presence of the Lord in the land of the living.” The more we are freed from sin, the more we live “life to the full.”
It is Christian ministry to care for the body, to bring healing to emotional problems and distress — but only if our care for others in some way reveals God’s love to them, whether they recognize it as his or not. The minister must know that the ingredient that makes ministry truly ministry, at least for Christians, is love. It is love that gives life. If we walk in love, we will “walk in the presence of the Lord in the land f the living.”
To love is to “die to self.” There is no better way to offer your “flesh for the life of the world” than to deal with people constantly in love. We pledge ourselves to this in the Eucharistic Prayer at every Mass when we say together with Jesus, “This is my body, given up for you.”
This love, Christ’s love revealed in us, is what empowers us to say to people, “Rise and walk!”
Initiative: Be a priest. Die to selfishness; live in love — and express it!
 Romans 4:18; 2Corinthians.4:11.