Saturday, March 15, 2014

The Two Movements of the Christian Life

Read Timothy 1:8-10

“For God has saved us, and given us a holy vocation.” Thus does Saint Paul present Christian life.

First, we are saved. That is to say we discover God’s love for us. Such a discovery sets us free from fear, liberates us from all those needs that lead us to choose evil. In salvation, we discover life not as a trial to be endured but as a gift to be opened.

Then, we are sent. That is to say we discover God’s mission for us, our vocation. God invites us to collaborate in the realisation of his loving plan for humanity. It is not enough that we should be the passive subjects of his love, God wants us to be active players, involved with God in bringing about the Kingdom of justice, peace and joy.

We must not forget this: vocation flows out of salvations, not vice versa. We are not saved because we follow Christ; rather, we follow Christ because we are saved. For example, I do not attend Mass on Sundays “so that” God will love me; rather, I attend Mass on Sundays “because” God loves me. In this slight change of perspective lies all the beauty of Christian life. All of its challenge, too.

In the Catholic, Orthodox and Anglican churches, we find three sacraments of initiation : baptism, confirmation and Eucharist.

Baptism is the sacrament of salvation. It is the sacred ritual through which we are plunged into the death of Christ in order to live with him forever. We become brothers and sisters of Jesus, children of the one Father. Our hearts are opened to his love.

Confirmation is the sacrament of vocation. It is the sacred ritual through which we are anointed by the Spirit, sent with Christ to bring the Good News to others by what we do, by what we say, by what we are.

The Eucharist – Mass – continually takes up these two movements: we taste God’s love and then are sent to share that love in the world. That is why we say the Eucharist is the source and summit of the Church’s life and mission.

One must breathe to stay alive. Breathing means not only taking air into our lungs, but also blowing that air back out into space. Both movements are essential. It is the same with Christian life: we must welcome God’s love in our hearts and then send it back into the world.

Every seven days, Sunday Mass gives us the time to breathe deeply and to rediscover that, indeed, “God has saved us” and “has given us a holy vocation.”

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