In the first reading, Paul reminds his listeners that in Christ, they have been re-created, made new; not from knowing Jesus when he walked on this earth and being able to see him and listen to his words, but through his life, death and resurrection. Paul uses the word reconciliation, or some form of it, five times in this passage and so my reflections will center on these questions: What does it mean to be re-created? How are we reconciled to God? How is God reconciled to the world?
One of the times we most long to be re-created is when we are painfully aware of the limits of our created selves. Our selfishness causes conflict with a family member; our busy-ness keeps us from nurturing relationships with a beloved friend; we are caught in addictive behaviors, seemingly beyond hope; personal failures leave us feeling hopeless and broken; our fears keep us from being honest with ourselves about our values and so we find ourselves lost in a maze of behaviors that leave us feeling disconnected from our deepest selves and from God. We continue to strive to be reconciled through our own efforts, but they often fail. Lord, make of me a new creation… work your grace in me! …in us!
Paul reminds us that the great reconciliation of all creation with God has been accomplished in Christ! All that feels disconnected and separated has already been, and is, reconciled in Christ for eternity. When we open our hearts and minds to this realty, we open ourselves to the spirit of the reconciling Christ alive today in each of us and in the world. We are made whole, and friendship and harmony are restored with God, our selves, and others. And, we become “ambassadors for Christ”; living reminders to others of this great grace. Yes, the Lord is kind and merciful!
The gospel account has Jesus giving his disciples a concrete teaching about this. How many times have we said, or heard others say, “It’s true, I swear!” or “That’s exactly what happened, I swear!” Why do we say this? Because the hearers don’t trust what is being said; there is doubt, suspicion or disbelief. Jesus reminds his disciples as he reminds us that all we need to do is speak the truth; the truth that comes from our reconciled, deepest self; not from our fearful, divided self, (“the evil one”). And then we need to “let go of the results” as we have often heard said. We don’t have control over the outcomes; for we cannot make “a single hair white or black” (well, not without dye). There is nothing to do, but open our tightly clenched hands to receive the blessing of reconciliation that is with us for all time.
This week we celebrate The Solemnity of the Most Holy Body and Blood of Christ; as we receive the Body and Blood of Christ, I pray that we may be deeply aware of the reconciliation that has been accomplished in Christ for us. May we be living reminders of this peace that only Christ can give.
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