An Acceptable Time

Scripture Reading

Brothers and sisters:
We are ambassadors for Christ,
as if God were appealing through us.
We implore you on behalf of Christ,
be reconciled to God.
For our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin,
so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.

Working together, then,
we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain.
For he says:

In an acceptable time I heard you,
and on the day of salvation I helped you.

Behold, now is a very acceptable time;
behold, now is the day of salvation.
(2 Corinthians 5:20-6:2)

Scripture Study

5:20 ambassadors: The term refers to envoys who represented Roman emperors in distant territories. These representatives carried the authority of the reigning ruler with them wherever they went. Similarly, Christians in general and the apostles in particular bear, each in their own way, the royal, priestly, and prophetic authority of Christ to the world (Mt 18:18; Rom 15:16; Rev 5:9–10) (CCC 859).

5:21 made him to be sin: Jesus was not made a sinner or personally counted guilty of sin on the Cross. Rather, he bore the curse of death that mankind incurred because of sin (Gal 3:13; 1 Pet 2:22–24), even though he himself knew no sin, i.e., committed no sin (Jn 8:46; 1 Jn 3:5) (CCC 602–3). the righteousness of God: An important expression in Paul’s writings. It can refer (1) to God’s own righteousness that is manifest to the world when he is faithful to his covenants (Rom 3:25–26) and (2) to the gift of righteousness that God imparts to the baptized (Phil 3:9).

6:1 in vain: Unless the Corinthians recognize and follow Paul as their apostolic father and founder, the “false apostles” (11:13) could lead them to spiritual ruin. The danger of falling from grace is a reality faced by every believer in this life (Gal 5:4; Heb 6:4–6; 2 Pet 2:20–22).

6:2 At the acceptable time: A citation from the Greek version of Is 49:8. ● Isaiah outlines the mission of the Servant Messiah: he will restore the tribal family of Israel and bring the light of salvation to the Gentiles (Is 49:6). Christ fulfills this mission through the apostolic ministry of his servants, like Paul (Acts 13:47). In this context, Paul is stressing that God is ready (now) to help the Corinthians in their time of crisis, reminding them that the window for repentance will not always remain open (CCC 859, 1041).

Scripture Reflection

The reconciliation of mankind with God—whose friendship we lost through original sin—has been brought about by Christ’s death on the cross. Through this sacrifice we became the righteousness of God, that is, we are justified, made just in God’s sight.

Our Lord entrusted the apostles with this “message of reconciliation” and to pass on the “message of salvation,” the “word of grace,” and the “word of life.” Thus, the apostles were our Lord’s ambassadors to men, to whom St Paul addresses a pressing call to “be reconciled to God,” that is to apply the reconciliation obtained by Jesus Christ through the sacraments of Baptism and Penance. Saint Pope John Paul II said: “The Lord Jesus instituted in his Church the sacrament of Penance, so that those who have committed sins after Baptism might be reconciled with God, whom they have offended, and with the Church itself whom they have injured.” Now, for all his disciples, this period of Lent is an “acceptable time” for reconciliation.

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.