Our second reading from Paul’s first letter to the Colossians is often misunderstood, because it is taken out of context. As he says in the first line, his concern is to relieve their anxieties. He is making suggestions, not commands, to early believers who expected the second coming of Jesus at any time, certainly not very far off at all. From that perspective, he is saying to be free of marital obligations allows one to focus completely on preparing for the second coming (being focused on “the things of the Lord”).
Later, long after the belief that the 2nd coming would be soon was left behind, the Church began to use this passage to claim that celibacy was a “better” way of life than matrimony, that matrimony was secondary. But Paul starts this section of his letter saying,
everyone should live as the Lord has assigned, just as God called each one (7:17). In other words, each of us has a specific vocation or calling from the Lord and we need to live THAT life for the Kingdom,
bringing Christ to the world. No one vocation is better than another: it is what God calls me to, as an individual, that is right for me.
There is no need to be comparing vocations or styles of life or professions, etc. What I need to focus on is how I am living the vocation I have been called to: am I living Gospel values, so that others can see the compassion, joy, love, and generosity of Christ in
action? That is what we have been called to, that is what gives meaning to our lives.
The bottom line is not whether we are married or single, celibate or not, cleric or lay, etc. The important thing is that we bring Christ to those around us by what we say and do. We will have access to people and situations that no one else does and God wants to use us to bring his love, compassion, and forgiveness to others. Let’s make sure we are cooperating. God bless.
Church sign of the week: Life is a gift: unwrap your present.