How Great are His Works!

I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart
in the company and assembly of the just.
Great are the works of the LORD,
exquisite in all their delights.

Majesty and glory are his work,
and his justice endures forever.
He has won renown for his wondrous deeds;
gracious and merciful is the LORD.

He has given food to those who fear him;
he will forever be mindful of his covenant.
He has made known to his people the power of his works,
giving them the inheritance of the nations.
(Psalm 111:1-2, 3-4, 5-6)

Scripture Study

111:1 I will give thanks to Refers to glad remembrance of God’s actions. all my heart The psalmist describes his intensity and commitment: he will hold none of himself back.

111:2 Great are the works of Lord The Hebrew phrase used here, ma’aseh yhwh, often refers to the events in the book of Exodus. The psalmist likely uses an intentionally broad term so that his audience will reflect on the wide range of God’s works.

111:3 his justice God’s tsedaqah is a central characteristic of His glory.
forever The Hebrew word used here, ad (which refers to “a lasting future time”), is synonymous with olam (“long time” or “future time”; vv. 5, 9). In Psa 111, these terms convey the meaning of “forever.” God’s righteousness is unending.

111:5 those who fear An attitude of pious reverence toward God.
his covenant A binding agreement between God and His people.

111:6 the inheritance of the nations The psalmist describes how Yahweh took the inheritance from the nations and gave it to Israel. He may be referring to the conquest of the land of Canaan (see the book of Joshua).

Scripture Reflection

Faithfulness and justice are the faithful precepts. The faithful precepts are to be performed with faithfulness and uprightness. In this way the works of the LORD are to become the work of his people. For this psalmist, fear of the LORD is the precepts, the motive to do them, and their performance.

Wisdom begins with knowing and obeying the LORD. It is the instruction of the LORD, not the teaching of the sages, that produces a “good understanding.” So in the context in which it stands, the didactic principle in a quite profound way speaks of the works of the LORD. For the psalmist, wisdom is not mere prudence, however sagacious and useful, nor is it a theory about the meaning of the world, an explanation of what is and how it works. Wisdom rises out of and is given through the twofold works of God.

– James Mays

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

Tenderness

Jesus journeyed to a city called Nain,
and his disciples and a large crowd accompanied him.
As he drew near to the gate of the city,
a man who had died was being carried out,
the only son of his mother, and she was a widow.
A large crowd from the city was with her.
When the Lord saw her,
he was moved with pity for her and said to her,
“Do not weep.”
He stepped forward and touched the coffin;
at this the bearers halted,
and he said, “Young man, I tell you, arise!”
The dead man sat up and began to speak,
and Jesus gave him to his mother.
Fear seized them all, and they glorified God, exclaiming,
“A great prophet has arisen in our midst,”
and “God has visited his people.”
This report about him spread through the whole of Judea
and in all the surrounding region.
(Luke 7:11-17)

Scripture Study

7:11 Nain Approximately 20 miles southwest of Capernaum.

7:12 was being carried out Graveyards were typically located outside the city walls for the sake of ritual cleanliness (see Num 5:1–4; 19:11–20). she was a widow With no husband or sons, the widow’s means of provision were gone. She would be forced to rely on the charity of her neighbors and struggle for her livelihood.

7:13 he was moved with pity Jesus is moved to action due to her suffering and destitution. The Greek word used here, splanchnizomai, occurs in Luke two other times, both in parables: The father has compassion when his wayward son returns (Luke 15:20), and the Samaritan has compassion on the injured man (10:33).

7:16 A great prophet has arisen in our midst Accounts of Elijah and Elisha raising sons from the dead appear in 1 Kgs 17:17–24; 2 Kgs 4:32–37. The parallel between Jesus and Elijah is a prominent theme in Matthew.

Scripture Reflection

Christ knows he is surrounded by a crowd which will be awed by the miracle and will tell the story all over the countryside. But he does not act artificially, merely to create an effect. Quite simply he is touched by that woman’s suffering and cannot but console her. He goes up to her and says, ‘Do not weep.’ It is like he is saying: ‘I don’t want to see you crying, I have come on earth to bring joy and peace.’ Only then comes the miracle, the sign of the power of Christ who is God. But first came his compassion, an evident sign of the tenderness of the heart of Christ the man.

– St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By

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

 

Not Under My Roof

When Jesus had finished all his words to the people,
he entered Capernaum.
A centurion there had a slave who was ill and about to die,
and he was valuable to him.
When he heard about Jesus, he sent elders of the Jews to him,
asking him to come and save the life of his slave.
They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”
And Jesus went with them,
but when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,
for I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.
For I too am a person subject to authority,
with soldiers subject to me.
And I say to one, Go, and he goes;
and to another, Come here, and he comes;
and to my slave, Do this, and he does it.”
When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”
When the messengers returned to the house,
they found the slave in good health.
(Luke 7:1-10)

Scripture Study

7:1 Capernaum This fishing village on the northern shore of the Sea of Galilee served as Jesus’ base of operations during His public ministry.

7:2 centurion’s A centurion was a Roman military officer in charge of roughly 80 soldiers.

7:3 he sent elders of the Jews Since he was a Gentile (non-Jew), the centurion sent Jewish leaders to vouch for him to Jesus, a Jewish teacher.

7:4 He deserves The elders’ opinion of the centurion is based on his generosity to the Jewish community. The centurion himself recognizes that he is not worthy (vv. 6–7).

7:6 I am not worthy Coming from a leader in the Roman occupying force, this would have been a shocking expression of reverence toward a Jewish teacher. The centurion probably was aware that a Jew who entered a Gentile’s house became ritually unclean and thus doing so would have been a serious inconvenience for a Jewish person like Jesus

7:8 a person subject to authority The centurion recognizes that Jesus has considerable authority over sickness, similar to his own authority within the military chain of command.

7:9 found such faith This statement, praising one of Israel’s foreign rulers, would not have been well received by Jesus’ Jewish listeners. Jesus frequently links faith and healing (compare Luke 5:20).

Scripture Reflection

What stands out here is the centurion’s humility: he did not belong to the chosen people, he was a pagan; but he makes his request through friends, with deep humility. Humility is a route to faith, whether to receive faith for the first time or to revive it.

Speaking of his own conversion experience, St Augustine says that because he was not humble, he could not understand how Jesus, who was such a humble person, could be God, nor how God could teach anyone by lowering himself to the point of taking on our human condition. This was precisely why the Word, eternal Truth, became man—to demolish our pride, to encourage our love, to subdue all things and thereby be able to raise us up (cf. Confessions).

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

Living for Christ

Brothers and sisters:
None of us lives for oneself, and no one dies for oneself.
For if we live, we live for the Lord,
and if we die, we die for the Lord;
so then, whether we live or die, we are the Lord’s.
For this is why Christ died and came to life,
that he might be Lord of both the dead and the living.
(Romans 14:7-9)

Scripture Study

14:7 no one dies for oneself Emphasizes dependence on God and unity among believers.

14:8 we die for the Lord Indicates that in all things, the believer’s purpose is to serve and please God.

we are the Lord’s Paul affirms that neither life nor death can adversely affect the believer’s union with Christ (see Rom 8:35; 1 Thess 5:10).

14:9 for this is why Here Paul reminds his audience that Christ’s death and resurrection should encourage believers to live for the Lord, not themselves. Christians should use their freedom in Christ to show love and respect to fellow believers since He died for all people—both the living and the dead, the strong and the weak.

Scripture Reflection

We do not own ourselves, we are not our own masters. God, One and Three, has created us, and Jesus Christ has freed us from sin by redeeming us with his blood. Therefore, he is our lord, and we his servants, committed to him body and soul. He is lord of our life and of our death.

Commenting on these verses St Gregory the Great says: “The saints, therefore, do not live and do not die for themselves. They do not live for themselves, because in all that they do they strive for spiritual gain: by praying, preaching and persevering in good works, they seek the increase of the citizens of the heavenly fatherland. Nor do they die for themselves because men see them glorifying God by their death, hastening to reach him through death” (In Ezechielem homiliae, 2, 10).

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

 

Trustworthy Saying

Beloved:
This saying is trustworthy and deserves full acceptance:
Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners.
Of these I am the foremost.
But for that reason I was mercifully treated,
so that in me, as the foremost,
Christ Jesus might display all his patience as an example
for those who would come to believe in him for everlasting life.
To the king of ages, incorruptible, invisible, the only God,
honor and glory forever and ever. Amen.
(1 Timothy 1:15-17)

Scripture Study

1:15 This saying is trustworthy: this phrase regularly introduces in the Pastorals a basic truth of early Christian faith; cf. 1 Tm 3:1; 4:9; 2 Tm 2:11; Ti 3:8.

1:17 King of ages: through Semitic influence, the Greek expression could mean “everlasting king”; it could also mean “king of the universe.”

Scripture Reflection

The point being emphasized here in this pastoral letter is that “Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners”. The Apostle has condensed into very few words God’s plan for the redemption of mankind, which he will go on to say more about later. “The mercy of God is infinite,” says St Francis of Assisi, “and, according to the Gospel, even if our sins were infinite, his mercy is yet greater than our sins. And the Apostle St Paul has said that Christ the blessed came into the world to save sinners” (The Little Flowers of St Francis).

This is, in fact, one of the basic truths of faith and appears in the Creed: “For us men and for our salvation, he came down from heaven”. He came to save us from the only evil, that which can separate us from God—sin. By his victory over sin, Christ gave men and women the honor of being sons and daughters of God; this new character and status equips them to light up the world around them with the brightness of their Christian lives. (St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By)

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

 

Our Lady of Sorrows

Standing by the cross of Jesus were his mother
and his mother’s sister, Mary the wife of Clopas,
and Mary Magdalene.
When Jesus saw his mother and the disciple there whom he loved
he said to his mother, “Woman, behold, your son.”
Then he said to the disciple,
“Behold, your mother.”
And from that hour the disciple took her into his home.
(John 19:25-27)

Scripture Study

19:25 his mother’s sister: Possibly “Salome”, the mother of the apostles James and John, the sons of Zebedee (Mt 27:56; Mk 15:40).

19:26 Woman: The address sounds impersonal to modern readers but was considered polite in biblical antiquity. ● Jesus probably alludes to Gen 3:15, which describes the mother of the Messiah as the “woman” whose offspring conquers the devil (CCC 726, 2618). behold your son!: Jesus honors his Mother by entrusting her to the protective care of the Apostle John, presumably because Mary had no other children to assume the responsibility. The Church maintains that Jesus’ Mother, Mary, remained a virgin throughout her life. These so-called brethren of Jesus are thus his relatives but not children of Mary. Four observations support the Church’s tradition: (1) These brethren are never called the children of Mary, although Jesus himself is (Jn 2:1; 19:25; Acts 1:14). (2) Two names mentioned, James and Joseph, are sons of a different “Mary” in Mt 27:56 (Mk 15:40). (3) It is unlikely that Jesus would entrust his Mother to the Apostle John at his Crucifixion if she had other natural sons to care for her (Jn 19:26–27). (4) The word “brethren” (Gk. adelphoi) has a broader meaning than blood brothers. Since ancient Hebrew had no word for “cousin”, it was customary to use “brethren” in the Bible for relationships other than blood brothers. In the Greek OT, a “brother” can be a nearly related cousin (1 Chron 23:21–22), a more remote kinsman (Deut 23:7; 2 Kings 10:13–14), an uncle or a nephew (Gen 13:8), or the relation between men bound by covenant (2 Sam 1:26; cf. 1 Sam 18:3). Continuing this OT tradition, the NT often uses “brother” or “brethren” in this wider sense. Paul uses it as a synonym for his Israelite kinsmen in Rom 9:3. It also denotes biologically unrelated Christians in the New Covenant family of God (Rom 8:29; 12:1; Col 1:2; Heb 2:11; Jas 1:2; CCC 500). ● John is not just an individual disciple, he is portrayed by the evangelist as an icon of every disciple whom Jesus loves. In this sense, Mary is given to all beloved disciples of Christ, just as every disciple is given to the maternal care of Mary. The assumption here is that family relations are extended beyond the limits of natural lineage, so that every baptized believer has God as a Father, Christ as an eldest brother, Mary as a Mother, and the saints as brothers and sisters (CCC 501, 964, 2679).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today we celebrate the memorial of Our Lady of Sorrows. In our Gospel Jesus entrusts care of his mother to St. John. We can see some background for this profound action in The Passion of the Christ, the most provocative and popular religious movie in decades. What I would like to do is simply highlight a theme from the movie that especially struck me when I saw it.

The theme that I would like to emphasize is that of Mary, the mother of Jesus. We are compelled to see the scenes through her eyes. Early in Luke’s Gospel, we are told that Mary “contemplated these things, reflecting on them in her heart.” She is the theologian par excellence, the one who understands. When she sees Jesus being led away, she weeps and then she says “Amen.”

In scene after scene, we watch her spiritual comprehension. The wonderful scene where she is marked with the Blood of her Son is especially evocative. And then the Pieta depiction at the very end, where we see Mary’s role: to present the sacrifice of her Son to us and for us.

= Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

Name Above All Names

Brothers and sisters:
Christ Jesus, though he was in the form of God,
did not regard equality with God something to be grasped.
Rather, he emptied himself,
taking the form of a slave,
coming in human likeness;
and found human in appearance,
he humbled himself,
becoming obedient to death,
even death on a cross.
Because of this, God greatly exalted him
and bestowed on him the name
that is above every name,
that at the name of Jesus
every knee should bend,
of those in heaven and on earth and under the earth,
and every tongue confess that
Jesus Christ is Lord,
to the glory of God the Father.
(Philippians 2:6-11)

Scripture Study

2:6 Either a reference to Christ’s preexistence and those aspects of divinity that he was willing to give up in order to serve in human form, or to what the man Jesus refused to grasp at to attain divinity. Many see an allusion to the Genesis story: unlike Adam, Jesus, though … in the form of God (Gn 1:26–27), did not reach out for equality with God, in contrast with the first Adam in Gn 3:5–6.

2:7 Taking the form of a slave, coming in human likeness: or “… taking the form of a slave. Coming in human likeness, and found human in appearance.” While it is common to take Phil 2:6, 7 as dealing with Christ’s preexistence and Phil 2:8 with his incarnate life, so that lines Phil 2:7b, 7c are parallel, it is also possible to interpret so as to exclude any reference to preexistence (see note on Phil 2:6) and to take Phil 2:6–8 as presenting two parallel stanzas about Jesus’ human state (Phil 2:6–7b; 7cd–8); in the latter alternative, coming in human likeness begins the second stanza and parallels 6a to some extent.

2:8 There may be reflected here language about the servant of the Lord, Is 52:13–53:12 especially Is 53:12.

2:9 The name: “Lord” (Phil 2:11), revealing the true nature of the one who is named.

2:10–11 Every knee should bend … every tongue confess: into this language of Is 45:23 there has been inserted a reference to the three levels in the universe, according to ancient thought, heaven, earth, under the earth.

2:11 Jesus Christ is Lord: a common early Christian acclamation; cf. 1 Cor 12:3; Rom 10:9. But doxology to God the Father is not overlooked here (Phil 2:11c) in the final version of the hymn. 

Scripture Reflection

In what he says about Jesus Christ, the Apostle is not simply proposing him as a model for us to follow. The man-God, Jesus Christ, makes the cross the climax of his earthly life; through it he enters into his glory as Lord and Messiah. The Crucifixion puts the whole universe on the way to salvation.

Jesus Christ gives us a wonderful example of humility and obedience. St Josemaría Escrivá in Christ Is Passing By, reminds us, “We should learn from Jesus’ attitude in these trials. During his life on earth he did not even want the glory that belonged to him. Though he had the right to be treated as God, he took the form of a servant, a slave. And so the Christian knows that all glory is due to God and that he must not use the sublimity and greatness of the Gospel to further his own interests or human ambitions. Jesus’ attitude in rejecting all human glory is in perfect balance with the greatness of his unique mission as the beloved Son of God who becomes incarnate to save men.

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

Unattached to the World

Raising his eyes toward his disciples Jesus said:

“Blessed are you who are poor,
for the Kingdom of God is yours.
Blessed are you who are now hungry,
for you will be satisfied.
Blessed are you who are now weeping,
for you will laugh.
Blessed are you when people hate you,
and when they exclude and insult you,
and denounce your name as evil
on account of the Son of Man.

Rejoice and leap for joy on that day!
Behold, your reward will be great in heaven.
For their ancestors treated the prophets
in the same way.

But woe to you who are rich,
for you have received your consolation.
But woe to you who are filled now,
for you will be hungry.
Woe to you who laugh now,
for you will grieve and weep.
Woe to you when all speak well of you,
for their ancestors treated the false prophets in this way.”
(Luke 6:20-26)

Scripture Study

6:20 Blessed: God’s children receive his blessing for their faith and adherence to his Law (11:28; Ps 1:1–2; Gal 3:9). See word study: Blessed at Mt 5:3. poor: This may denote material poverty defined by social or economic conditions as well as spiritual poverty defined by inward detachment. Note, however, that even the materially poor can be attached to the little they own, as even the wealthy can live in poverty of spirit (CCC 2444, 2546). ● Morally (St. Ambrose, In Lucam): the Lucan Beatitudes reflect the four cardinal virtues. The poor exhibit temperance as they shun the vain and excessive pleasures of the world. The hungry display justice as they share the plight of the lowly and give to those who have little. Those who weep exercise prudence as they lament the vanity of temporal things and look to what is eternal. Those hated by men exercise fortitude because they persevere when persecuted for their faith (CCC 1805–9).

6:24 woe: A cry of impending distress used by the prophets of Israel (Is 5:8–22; Amos 6:1; Hab 2:6–20). Jesus voices the same cry to warn that disaster awaits the comfortable of the world whose prosperity and notoriety have turned them away from God and the demands of his covenant. rich: Society’s most prosperous and prestigious members. Their success in this life can tempt them to overlook the need for God and his mercy. Worldly wealth is thus dangerous (14:33; 18:24) because it can lead to selfishness and a false sense of security (1 Tim 6:17–19; Heb 13:5; CCC 2547).

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel for today is St. Luke’s version of the beatitudes, less well-known than Matthew’s but actually punchier, more to the point. It all hinges on detachment, that decisively important spiritual attitude. Apatheia in the Greek fathers; indifferencia in Ignatius of Loyola. Spiritual detachment means that I am unattached to worldly values that become a substitute for the ultimate good of God.

How bluntly Luke’s account puts things! Look at Luke’s first beatitude, a model for the rest: “Blessed are you poor; the reign of God is yours.” What if we translated this as “how lucky you are if you are not addicted to material things.” When we place material things in the center of our concerns, we find ourselves caught in an addictive pattern.

Because material goods don’t satisfy the hunger in my soul, I convince myself that I need more of them to gain contentment. So I strive and work to get more nice things—cars, homes, TV’s, clothes—and then I find that those don’t satisfy me. So I strive and strive, and the rhythm continues.

Therefore, how lucky I would be if I were poor, unattached to material goods, finally indifferent to them.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

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.