Impelled by His Love

Brothers and sisters:
The love of Christ impels us,
once we have come to the conviction that one died for all;
therefore, all have died.
He indeed died for all,
so that those who live might no longer live for themselves
but for him who for their sake died and was raised.

Consequently, from now on we regard no one according to the flesh;
even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh,
yet now we know him so no longer.
So whoever is in Christ is a new creation:
the old things have passed away;
behold, new things have come.
And all this is from God,
who has reconciled us to himself through Christ
and given us the ministry of reconciliation,
namely, God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ,
not counting their trespasses against them
and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.
So 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.
(2 Corinthians 5:14-21)

Scripture Study

5:14 the love of Christ urges us on: The sacrificial love of Christ displayed on the Cross was overwhelming to Paul as it should be to us (Rom 5:8). This same divine love is poured into our hearts through the Spirit (Rom 5:5) and urges us to spread it among others by word and example (Jn 15:12–13) (CCC 851).

5:15 no longer for themselves: Christians are born to a new life of grace that enables them to conquer selfishness and the tendency to live solely for private, personal interests. Purchased for God at the price of Christ’s blood (1 Cor 6:20), believers should strive to live the rest of their days for him (CCC 655, 1269).

5:16 according to the flesh: According to some, this implies that Paul knew the historical Jesus during his earthly ministry. More likely, Paul is claiming that life in the Spirit brings a new perception of things, more penetrating than natural reason (1 Cor 2:12–15). Whereas the crucified Christ appears dead and defeated from a human viewpoint, from a spiritual viewpoint his Cross is a powerful sign of victory and life.

5:17 a new creation: Baptism transfers us from the bondage of sin and slavery to the blessings of salvation and sonship. The New Covenant thus begins a new order in history where creation is steadily renewed, beginning with our souls and extending into every corner of the cosmos (Rom 8:19–25; Rev 21:1–5). Christ does not destroy the old order of creation but heals it, perfects it, and elevates it with supernatural life (CCC 1214, 1265). ● The prophets of Israel envisioned this renewal far in advance of Christ’s coming. Isaiah announced that Yahweh would restore the world, beginning with Israel (Is 42:6–9; 43:18–21; 65:17; 66:22). Other oracles foretold a return to the conditions of creation in Eden before sin and decay entered in (Is 51:3; Ezek 36:33–35).

5:18 ministry of reconciliation: The ministry of the apostles is to reunite the human family with the Father. For this to happen, the barrier of sin that separates them must be torn down by the sacramental and evangelistic actions of the Church (Mt 26:28; Jn 20:23; Acts 2:38) (CCC 981, 1424, 2844).

5:19 not counting their trespasses: Essential to our reconciliation with God but not equivalent to it. Forgiveness, though it includes the nonimputation of sin (Rom 4:6–8), is based on a true removal of guilt (Ps 103:12) by the cleansing power of the Sacraments (Jn 20:23; Acts 22:16; Jas 5:14–15). This is why Paul describes the believer as “a new creation” in Christ (2 Cor 5:17).

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). ● Paul adopts the idiom of the Greek OT, where “sin” is a shorthand expression for a Levitical “sin offering” (Lev 4:21; 5:12; 6:25). Isaiah uses this same language for the suffering Messiah, who was expected to make himself an “offering for sin” (Is 53:10). 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).

Scripture Reflection

“The love of Christ controls us.” With these words, Paul sums up what motivates his tireless apostolic activity—the love of Jesus. The love of Christ should also inspire all other Christians to commit themselves to respond to Christ’s love, and it should fill them with a desire to bring to all souls the salvation won by Christ. It is impossible to live according to the heart of Jesus Christ and not to know that we are sent as the light to the world to bring others to Christ. We need to trust in the mercy of God more and more every day. As a result, we will foster in ourselves a vehement desire to live as co-redeemers with Christ, to save all souls with him.

– St Josemaría Escrivá, Christ Is Passing By

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

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 318-320.