The first reading in today’s liturgy is a beauty. It is a challenge to live out the Christ-life that is within us because we are persons baptized into Christ. This is an oft-repeated theme in the writings of Paul to the churches founded.
“What difference does it make that your baptism makes you one with Christ or that you are beloved of God?” is what Paul seems to ask over and over in his letters. He implies strongly that who we are leads us to live our lives in accord with that reality. Today’s reading is bold to challenge us to be “imitators” of God.
How on earth can we imitate God? Ephesians spells out an answer to that question. It means not doing some things (immorality, greed, impurity, useless talk); and it means to act on the fundamental fact that we are so blessed and favored by God. Paul captures that by calling us to be grateful: “but instead (of the negative things mentioned, to develop) thanksgiving.”
How counter-cultural that is. We live in a world that puts the “I” ahead of everyone else where selfishness is the rule. We see it on a grand scale in wars and violence and on a small scale in the need to succeed at any cost. Thanksgiving is the antidote to the many selfish entitlements according to our reading today. This is the very stance that we are invited to in the last words each mass: “Go in peace glorifying the Lord by your life.”
Can we accept that challenge to bring to our world the love God has for us in the person of Jesus: his life, death and resurrection? We do that by patiently living out in gratitude the light that we have received, “you are light in the Lord.” Each one of us needs to discern personally the content of that challenge as it touches into the course of our every-day lives. The reading today helps clarify that discernment as to what I need to eliminate in my life and what attitudes I need to develop as a person of “thanksgiving”.
Both of those (eliminating the negatives and adding the positives) are extremely difficult in a world that extols riches, honors and pride by counseling a “me-first” attitude as the only way to get ahead. We accomplish that difficult dual objective by firmly aligning ourselves with Christ’s life and attitudes: as Ephesians says, by being grateful “imitators” of God.
Indeed we ARE “light” in the Lord. Our challenge is to LIVE that way on a daily basis. It all starts with God’s overriding graciousness and ends in our thankful receiving and implementing it concretely in our world. God be with us all to keep on the target to that magnificent goal.