Speak Lord: our purpose, our prize, please…

Altar and shrine, St Paul outside the Walls

The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Lent, presents us with great testimony from Paul, a great witness to the love he has for Christ and the way that this has impacted on his life, given purpose, focus, direction to his life.

I believe nothing can happen that will outweigh the supreme advantage of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.

For him I have accepted the loss of everything, and I look on everything as so much rubbish if only I can have Christ and be given a place in him. I am no longer trying for perfection by my own efforts, the perfection that comes from the Law, but I want only the perfection that comes through faith in Christ, and is from God and based on faith.

All I want is to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and to share his sufferings by reproducing the pattern of his death. That is the way I can hope to take my place in the resurrection of the dead. Not that I have become perfect yet: I have not yet won, but I am still running, trying to capture the prize for which Christ Jesus captured me. I can assure you my brothers, I am far from thinking that I have already won.

All I can say is that I forget the past and I strain ahead for what is still to come; I am racing for the finish, for the prize to which God calls us upwards to receive in Christ Jesus.

Philippians 3:8-14

Paul strives for the good – ready to lose everything else in order to gain it. And his way to the good in his personal relationship with Christ. Christ is his inspiration, where he lives (‘in Christ’), and his destination, his prize. Christ is the race, and Christ the prize.

The picture above shows Paul’s ‘trophy’, his tomb and the altar from which the life and love of Christ continues to be ministered.

  • What is your ‘supreme advantage’?
  • For what do you strive?
  • What helps you to move forward?
  • What holds you back?
  • What would be a suitable trophy/memorial to your life? Why?

Shrine of St Paul, and principal altar. Basilica of St Paul outside the Walls, Rome. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.

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