“By God’s mercy,offer your whole lives as a living sacrifice which will be holy and pleasing to God. This is your spiritual worship.”
In his book, Thomas Aquinas: Spiritual Master, Fr. Robert Barron has a chapter entitled “The Strangeness of God.” Citing the Summa Theologica, Fr. Barron retells the story of God’s presence in and to the world. Thomas quotes from the prophet Isaiah: “Lord...you have accomplished all we have done.” Fr. Barron would have us notice the tension in this line—all we have done has actually been achieved by God. “We act, and God acts in us, and, in the imagination of Isaiah, there is no final contradiction between these two affirmations. Especially in the light of the Incarnation, it becomes obvious that the proximity of God in no way overwhelms the creature but rather lifts her up to perfection and intensifies her independence and integrity.” This is what Paul is reminding us as he invites or rather begs us to offer our lives as worship, as a living liturgy. It is because of the life, death and resurrection of the second person of the Trinity, Jesus Christ, that we enter this priesthood. We trade, as one author puts it, our earthly identity for our true identity in Christ. We are transformed into his image as we gaze with uncovered faces at the glory of the Lord. We are able to act with such great boldness because we have this hope, Paul says, that the Spirit gives life. “We have received this ministry through God’s mercy, we do not lose heart” (2 Cor. 3; 4:1). We no longer proclaim ourselves—we proclaim Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as servants for Jesus’ sake (2 Cor. 4:5). Paul reminds us that as we offer of our life Christ becomes manifest in and through us in each moment (1 Tim 4:3-5). Everything is sanctified by God’s Word revealed in our life. This is a new form of asceticism that Paul proclaims: Everything is yours, and your are Christ’s and Christ is God’s. “ When we drink the cup of blessing, aren't we taking into ourselves the blood, the very life, of Christ? And isn't it the same with the loaf of bread we break and eat? Don't we take into ourselves the body, the very life, of Christ? Because there is one loaf, our many-ness becomes one-ness—Christ doesn't become fragmented in us. Rather, we become unified in him. We don't reduce Christ to what we are; he raises us to what he is” (1Cor. 10:15; The Message). Karl Rahner prayed that we look for the experience of grace in the contemplation of our life. One can only look for it by forgetting oneself; one can only find it by seeking God and by giving oneself to him in a love which forgets self. This, he said, becomes the pure wine of the Spirit. “Our mission,” expressed Blessed James Alberione, “is a sharing in the teaching and priesthood of Christ. If you learn how to sanctify this apostolate with the right intention and purity of heart, even the smallest action will have the value and the solemnity of a sacred rite” (Pauline Calendar, June 11, 1957.)
TRUTH Read Romans 12:1 Paul says that God will be all in all (1 Cor. 15:28). Christ is manifest in and through us. God’s Word is revealed in our life.
WAY Meditate “Anyone who is in Christ is a new creation. The old has passed away, behold the new has come! All this is from God who reconciled us to himself through Christ and has given us the ministry of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:17-18).
LIFE Pray that we may offer the ministry of reconciliation. Each day is the day of salvation. Each day is the acceptable time. This is the message that we share. All creation is new. Paul said, “Every day I die. I do!” (1 Cor. 15:30). We also die to our self so that our life is Christ. Jesus our Life transforms us so that all we carry out is, as Alberione wrote, a sacred ritual.
LIVE Act To be a minister of reconciliation is to express the compassion that God has for us. Become sons and daughters of your Father in heaven, because he causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good and rain to fall on the just and unjust. (Matthew 5:45). Abide in Christ—remain always in Christ through the Spirit (Ephesians 5:18). When we find ourselves controlling of others we offer the reconciliation of trust as we entrust ourselves to God. When we are angry we offer the reconciliation of compassion and kindness. We become ministers of reconciliation as we share the Good News of God’s compassion and mercy with toward us. This calls for detachment from self and loving union with God in Christ through the Spirit.
Jesus, Master and Good Shepherd, who brought from heaven the fire of your love, give us your heart. Inflame us with the desire for the Glory of God and with a great love for our brothers and sisters. Make us sharers in your apostolate. Live in us, so that we may radiate you in word, in suffering, in pastoral action, in the witness of a holy life. We offer you ourselves as docile and faithful sheep, to cooperator in your pastoral mission in the Church. Come, divine Shepherd, guide us; may there be one flock and one Shepherd. Jesus Good Shepherd, Way, Truth and Life, have mercy on us.
(Prayers of the Pauline Family, Fr. Alberione).