Think of God’s mercy, my brothers, and worship him, I beg you, in a way that is worthy of thinking beings, by offering your living bodies as a holy sacrifice, truly pleasing to God. Do not model yourselves on the behaviour of the world around you, but let your behaviour change, modelled by your new mind. This is the only way to discover the will of God and know what is good, what it is that God wants, what is the perfect thing to do.
Second reading for the 22nd Sunday in Ordinary Time
God’s intimate commitment to us, most completely signified in the Incarnation, invites a passionate response from us. God’s life is revealed in humanity, and human life is most perfectly achieved in life lived in imitation of Jesus.
In a fallen world such a life involves us in confrontation of evil and sin – that of the world, not only that for which we ourselves are responsible. And sometimes that struggle will, in the sight of this world over whelm us – either because of their ‘triumph’ or our ‘failure’. And yet we are not overwhelmed or lost: the Lord’s triumph is shared with us, his life our eternal life.
Sometimes this is witnessed by this world, and sometimes it is not. The altar pictured above symbolises this. It has been reconstructed following the despoiling of the church during Soviet times – when the church was used sometimes as a garage, sometimes as a storehouse. It stands now as a sign of the resilience of the faith, and a poignant reminder of the witness provided during those tragic time by the fragile bodies and lives of Russian Christians, and an encouragement to the witness we ourselves might give today.
Altar in St Catherine’s Church, St Petersburg, Russia. (c) 2015, Allen Morris