The Mediator

Brothers and sisters:
As you received Christ Jesus the Lord, walk in him,
rooted in him and built upon him
and established in the faith as you were taught,
abounding in thanksgiving.
See to it that no one captivate you with an empty, seductive philosophy
according to the tradition of men,
according to the elemental powers of the world
and not according to Christ.

For in him dwells the whole fullness of the deity bodily,
and you share in this fullness in him,
who is the head of every principality and power.
In him you were also circumcised
with a circumcision not administered by hand,
by stripping off the carnal body, with the circumcision of Christ.
You were buried with him in baptism,
in which you were also raised with him
through faith in the power of God,
who raised him from the dead.
And even when you were dead in transgressions
and the uncircumcision of your flesh,
he brought you to life along with him,
having forgiven us all our transgressions;
obliterating the bond against us, with its legal claims,
which was opposed to us,
he also removed it from our midst, nailing it to the cross;
despoiling the principalities and the powers,
he made a public spectacle of them,
leading them away in triumph by it.
(Colossians 2:6-15)

Scripture Study

2:8 Elemental powers of the world: while the term can refer to the “elements” like earth, air, fire, and water or to elementary forms of religion, the sense here is more likely that of celestial beings that were thought in pagan circles to control the world.

2:9 Fullness of the deity: the divine nature, not just attributes; in gnostic usage this term referred to a spiritual world of beings above, between God and the world; many later interpreters take it to refer to the fullness of the deity (Col 2:9); the reference could also be to the fullness of grace (cf. Jn 1:16).

2:11 A description of baptism (Col 2:12) in symbolic terms of the Old Testament rite for entry into the community. The false teachers may have demanded physical circumcision of the Colossians.

2:14 The elaborate metaphor here about how God canceled the legal claims against us through Christ’s cross depicts not Christ being nailed to the cross by men but the bond … with its legal claims being nailed to the cross by God.

2:15 The picture derives from the public spectacle and triumph of a Roman emperor’s victory parade, where captives marched in subjection. The principalities and the powers are here conquered, not reconciled (cf. Col 1:16, 20). An alternate rendering for by it (the cross) is “by him” (Christ).

Scripture Reflection

Jesus is the only mediator between God and man. The angelic principalities and powers are insignificant by comparison with him: God has overpowered them and publicly exposed them through the death of his Son.

We were guilty and deserved the most rigorous of punishments because we were all of us in sin! What, then, does the Son of God do? By his death on the cross he removes all our stains and exempts us from the punishment due to them. He takes our charge-sheet, nails it to the cross through his own person and destroys it

This is one of the central teachings of the epistle—that Jesus Christ is the only mediator between God and men. The basic purpose of his mediation is to reconcile men with God, through the forgiveness of their sins and the gift of the life of grace, which is a sharing in God’s own life.

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

Christ In You

Brothers and sisters:
I rejoice in my sufferings for your sake,
and in my flesh I am filling up
what is lacking in the afflictions of Christ
on behalf of his Body, which is the Church,
of which I am a minister
in accordance with God’s stewardship given to me
to bring to completion for you the word of God,
the mystery hidden from ages and from generations past.
But now it has been manifested to his holy ones,
to whom God chose to make known the riches of the glory
of this mystery among the Gentiles;
it is Christ in you, the hope for glory.
It is he whom we proclaim,
admonishing everyone and teaching everyone with all wisdom,
that we may present everyone perfect in Christ.
For this I labor and struggle,
in accord with the exercise of his power working within me.

For I want you to know how great a struggle I am having for you
and for those in Laodicea
and all who have not seen me face to face,
that their hearts may be encouraged
as they are brought together in love,
to have all the richness of assured understanding,
for the knowledge of the mystery of God, Christ,
in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge.
(Colossians 1:24 to 2:3)

Scripture Study

1:24 I rejoice in my sufferings Paul refers to his imprisonment (4:3), which he considers part of his calling—not a cause for shame. His attitude serves as a model for the Colossians of how to endure hardship for the sake of others.

what is lacking of the afflictions of Christ This difficult phrase might refer to the hardships traditionally expected to befall the Messiah’s people in advance of His return (sometimes called the “messianic woes”).

1:26 mystery Refers to God’s plan of salvation revealed through the death and resurrection of Christ. This specifically involves Christ’s ministry of reconciliation, which unites Gentiles (non-Jews, such as the Colossians) with Jews and creates one people of God (e.g., Eph 3:6–9).

1:27 mystery among the Gentiles The Colossians’ non-Jewish ethnicity did not exclude them or disqualify them from God’s promises and plan. On the contrary, the work of Christ makes them eligible to share in the inheritance of God’s people (v. 12). The inclusion of Gentiles into the people of God was always part of God’s plan of salvation (Gen 12:3; Isa 49:6; Gal 3:8). Christ in you Refers to union with Christ.

1:28 every person False teachers may have promoted special knowledge that was available only to a select few. Paul wants the Colossians to understand that the truth and wisdom of the gospel is available to everyone in their congregation; all believers are called to full maturity in Christ.

1:29 labor Paul explains that he, too, is on the path to Christian maturity. Like all believers, he is pursuing the hard work of discipleship in cooperation with Christ’s indwelling presence.

2:1 struggle This seems to refer to Paul’s deep concern for the believers. He also might be referring to his intense effort in prayer. Laodicea A city about 11 miles from Colossae.

2:2 mystery of God In mystery cults, a mystery was a secret ritual that supposedly established a relationship with a god and resulted in perceived benefits such as immortality. The Colossians likely knew of such teachings from their culture. Paul uses the term “mystery” to refer to Christ, who reveals and fulfills God’s plan of salvation.

2:3 wisdom and knowledge Jewish traditions prized wisdom, and mystery cults valued knowledge. Paul affirms Christ as the true source of both. Since the believers of Colossae have Christ (1:27), they have no need for the wisdom and knowledge offered by false teachers.

Scripture Reflection

All men have been saved by the redemptive death of Christ. However, St Paul says that he completes in his flesh “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions”; what does he mean by this? St Alphonsus in Thoughts on the Passion, supplies an answer: “Can it be that Christ’s passion alone was insufficient to save us? It left nothing more to be done, it was entirely sufficient to save all men. However, for the merits of the Passion to be applied to us, according to St Thomas, we need to cooperate by patiently bearing the trials God sends us, so as to become like our head, Christ.”

St Paul is applying this truth to himself. Jesus Christ worked and strove in all kinds of ways to communicate his message of salvation, and then he accomplished the redemption by dying on the Cross. The Apostle is mindful of the Master’s teaching and so he follows in his footsteps, takes up his cross and continues the task of bringing Christ’s teaching to all men.

Faith in the fact that we are sharing in the sufferings of Christ “gives a person the certainty that in the spiritual dimension of the work of Redemption he is serving, like Christ, the salvation of his brothers and sisters. Therefore, he is carrying out an irreplaceable service. In the Body of Christ, which is ceaselessly born of the Cross of the Redeemer, it is precisely suffering permeated by the spirit of Christ’s sacrifice that is the irreplaceable mediator and author of the good things which are indispensable for the world’s salvation. It is suffering, more than anything else, which clears the way for the grace which transforms human souls. Suffering, more than anything else, makes present in the history of humanity the force of the Redemption.”

-Saint Pope John Paul II (Salvifici doloris, 27)

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