Fr. Bob Writes – March 17, 2019

Be imitators of me as your model” (Phillippians 3:17).  Most of us would feel uncomfortable voicing such words, much less putting them into print.  Yet St Paul will echo these sentiments again and again, in 2 Thessalonians 3:7, 1 Corinthians 4:16, and in 1 Corinthians 11:1, where he says “Imitate me as I imitate Christ”, in other words, “only imitate me, insofar as you see me imitating Christ.”  Paul wasn’t being proud.  On the contrary, he considered himself among the greatest of sinners (cf 1 Timothy 1:15). 

I am reminded of an interviewer who put the following question to St Mother Theresa: “People are saying you are a living saint.  What do you think of that?” Her response: “Isn’t that what we’re all supposed to be?”  No false humility kept either St Paul or St Mother Theresa from accepting their God-given call.  In fact, Paul’s response to us, if we were to say to him “I can’t be a model of holiness to others” would have been :”Why not?”  We are all to be living saints.  We are all to be examples for others to imitate, always mindful that we are first called to imitate Christ.  How else could Paul expect others to get their priorities in order and stand firm? 

Later on in our second reading this Sunday, Paul will say: “Our citizenship is in heaven.”  Conquered by the Romans in 167 B.C., the Macedonian city of Philippi was designated a Roman colony giving her residents rights as citizens of the Roman Empire.  Paul himself was a Roman citizen, being from the city of Tarsus, a city in Asia Minor which, like Philippi, was designated as a Roman colony.  Consult Acts 22 to see how Paul took advantage of his rights as a Roman citizen, a mere shadow of the blessings offered to those who live as citizens of God’s kingdom.  How are you and I showing by our behavior in Lent that we are citizens of different kingdom?

   

Fr Bob Writes – March 10, 2019

The message of Lent: 

To accept Jesus as Lord is to put him at the centre of our life, to see Christ as the great gift of our existence.  It affects commitment, marriage, family, work and play to accept him, and him alone, as our Savior, and a willingness to confront and master temptation at every turn. 

In our second reading this Sunday, the first Sunday of Lent, St Paul reminds us that salvation in Christ is personal, deeply internal, a question of heart and lips.  Salvation, for Paul, consists in a personal appropriation of what Christ has done for us.  What Paul means by faith is a deep adherence and commitment to the Lord Jesus, who alone justifies and saves.  This is a salvation open to all people, not the Jews exclusively.  This is the individual dimension of salvation. 

 In our first reading this Sunday, Deuteronomy sets forth the collective dimension of salvation.  We are saved as a people, as a community, as a family, not just as individuals.  The Hebrew believer presented a part of the annual harvest to the Lord as an expression of gratitude for all that God had done for him and his people.  The credo which the offeror recites blends appreciation for personal benefits with those received by Israel as a whole.  The identification of the individual with the larger community is central to covenant faith. 

We go into the desert experience of Lent not just as individuals, but as part of a family, a community.  How can I best live this experience of Lent in both dimensions: collective and individual?