This last Sunday of Advent, the Church gives us the beginning of the Letter of Paul to the Romans as our second reading. Paul is presenting his credentials to the community (remember, he started out as a persecutor of Christians, so had to win credibility). He lists three points, which ideally would apply to us as faithful followers of
First, he calls himself a slave of Christ Jesus. He isn’t using “slave” in the sense of being forced to do something against his will, but rather in the sense of being completely and selflessly committed to Christ. Have we committed ourselves to Christ in that way?
Second, he says he is called to be an apostle. A disciple follows a master to learn; an apostle is sent out to others to bring the Good News to them. We have accepted this responsibility in baptism. Is bringing Christ to others an essential part of everything I do?
Finally, he says he is set apart for the gospel of God. Maybe this is a way of bringing the other two together: Paul is completely dedicated to Christ and to bringing His Good News to others. That means Paul is “set apart” for this task.
We might say to ourselves, “I can’t do that: I have children” or “I have many responsibilities” or “I am old and my mobility is compromised,” etc. But these are simply excuses. Being a slave of Christ and set aside for the Gospel simply means that Christ and His message are always a part of what we do as we go about our responsibilities each day. It is an awareness and attitude that will help us live Gospel values joyfully, thus being attractive to other people. When we can do that, we have done our part: the rest is up to God and His graces.
As we enter the last week of preparation to celebrate the birth of our Savior, let us ask God to help us grow in our ability to be slaves of Christ, apostles set aside for bringing Gospel values and joy to others. God is there with us to help: we just have to do our best and God will do the rest.
Church sign of the week: Live your life in such a way that if anyone would speak badly about you, nobody would