The Second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 5th Sunday of Lent, is one great assurance from Paul that his life finds its entire meaning from Christ – Christ is to be his entire future; the challenge and joy of his present, and the trajectory on which his past – what was good in it and what bad – has launched him.
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.
Next week – beginning on Palm Sunday – we have the opportunity of spending quality time with the Lord.
Of course the Lord is with us always and everywhere, for nothing can separate us from him. But in the Liturgy of Holy Week we have the privilege of being drawn into extended times of contemplation and adoration of him in the peak moments of his public ministry – in the events of the Last Supper, of the Passion, of the time amongst the dead and in the glory of the Resurrection.
Image from the Shroud. (Taken from replica on display at Santa Croce in Gerusalemme, Rome). (c) 2016, Allen Morris.