The second reading at Mass on Sunday, the 18th Sunday in Ordinary Time, continues the theme of previous Sunday’s readings from this letter, of the new life in Christ.
This new life – gift of God – requires and enables our dying to all that keeps us from the fullness of life in Christ.
Since you have been brought back to true life with Christ, you must look for the things that are in heaven, where Christ is, sitting at God’s right hand. Let your thoughts be on heavenly things, not on the things that are on the earth, because you have died, and now the life you have is hidden with Christ in God. But when Christ is revealed – and he is your life – you too will be revealed in all your glory with him.
That is why you must kill everything in you that belongs only to earthly life: fornication, impurity, guilty passion, evil desires and especially greed, which is the same thing as worshipping a false god; and never tell each other lies. You have stripped off your old behaviour with your old self, and you have put on a new self which will progress towards true knowledge the more it is renewed in the image of its creator; and in that image there is no room for distinction between Greek and Jew, between the circumcised or the uncircumcised, or between barbarian and Scythian, slave and free man. There is only Christ: he is everything and he is in everything.
The best quality of our life is hidden in Christ. Sadly what is often all too evident of our present lives are those features who are of our earthly life and which must be let go of, ‘killed’.
The current Year of Mercy provides the sort of reminder we regularly need that though God surely hates sin, he loves the sinner. We are assured of all the help we need as we seek to progress to the perfection and holiness that characterises the lives of the saints of God.
Detail of tabernacle. Rosary Basilica, Lourdes. (c) 2016, Allen Morris.