OCTOBER 19, 2005,  ROMANS 6:12-18; Luke12:39-48

OFFER YOURSELF TO GOD AS PERSONS WHO HAVE COME BACK FRM THE DEAD TO LIFE. These are powerful words indeed. St. Paul wrote them to the Roman Community with great feeling as well as out of profound conviction. When he received the grace of conversion he was so overcome by the fresh awareness that his actions set him at enmity with God that he passed through a kind of death experience psychologically. He knew by painful experience that to lose Godís favor is a moral death and to be taken back into his received by him again is to rise to new life. And so in the course of this same letter he develops at length the theology of grace as a principle of a new, divine life. This life, he realized, imparted a fresh power of insight as well as a force that strengthened oneís purpose of serving God. Earlier he had great zeal for serving God but he was lacking in the knowledge of Godís plan of salvation. We can live according to the will of God only when we are enlightened in such a way as to recognize his ways of acting as manifested in Jesus Christ.

It is in Christ, then, that we come back to life from the dead, already in the days of our flesh. To live to God is to belong to the mystical body of his Son. Belief in Christ gives access to his risen body alive with the life of God. This body is itself a source of life, that we share with the Lord and with all who belong to him. We are to be aware of this profound truth which changes the meaning of all we do for it changes what we are. We are no longer children of wrath, alienated from our Maker and Father, but members of his own Incarnate Son. For this reason we are to make the choice Paul speaks of in this passage, to offer our self to God so as to appropriate as fully as we can the grace given us. We no longer belong to our self alone, but to God and so to all those who are Godís possession. To know our self in this manner is to enter into an intimate communion with the Lord and to strive to make our daily life conform to this reality. This way of knowing our self as raised to a new kind of life in our glorified Savior is the basis of a life of constant prayer, that is to say, of an intimate and persistent awareness of Godís presence.

Jesus, in todayís Gospel, expresses lively concern that his followers be alert and ready to respond when the Master returns from the wedding feast. Various indications of his coming are regularly given us if we are sensitive to them and he urges us to develop an alertness that we carry over into our way of life as well as into our prayer so that we remain disposed to go where he calls. These two readings complement one another and stimulate us to make our daily life a walking with God. This is the very meaning of the Christian life and it extends not only to all we do and think but also to what we become. We are making up in our own flesh what remains to be completed in the body of Christ. In this way we live as belonging to God first of all, so that in all things he may be glorified and we might arrive at the fullness of our being in communion with His Son and with all His saints.

Abbot John Eudes Bamberger

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