Twenty-EighthSunday in Ordinary Time
Let’s remember Jesus Christ
Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel, for which I am suffering, even to the point of chains, like a criminal. But the word of God is not chained. Therefore, I bear with everything for the sake of those who are chosen, so that they too may obtain the salvation that is in Christ Jesus, together with eternal glory. This saying is trustworthy: If we have died with him we shall also live with him; if we persevere we shall also reign with him. But if we deny him he will deny us. If we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself.2Tm 2,8-13
I still remember when, twenty years ago, we meditated upon this excerpt from Paul’s letter to Timothy, around this table, during one of our morning prayers. We said: “The real reference and model for being witness to the gospel is Jesus Christ. If his triumph had to pass through sufferance and humiliation, it must be so for us too: ‘If we have died with him, we shall also live with him’. Resurrection, the Kingdom and the eternal glory will be ours if we also suffer a part of what the Master has suffered from”. “Is it the only way?” asked one of us, Gianfilippo it seems to me to remember. “It is the main road!”… “But couldn’t we pass through some country sideways, maybe a little less risky?” “Of course you can. But – as Paul says today – it would mean denying Christ, so that he will deny us in his turn because he could not confirm our way to live our faith” “Does this mean that we would not be saved then?” “We cannot say that, since – as Paul says – ‘he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself’. He is always the Lord of Mercy”. “There you are, this is the way I like: getting saved with the right struggle… it is so to say as we do at school: it does not matter to get an A+ to be promoted, you can be satisfied with a C”. “It is true, and I assure you that, when I was young, I was very good at getting the maximum result with the minimum struggle. However, let’s talk about it in twenty years…” “Nice, I agree, but why can’t we talk about it now?”. “See, Gianfilippo, you are young now” and, smiling, I added “It’s a defect which passes with time”. Then I explained: “At your age, most of the world is still to be discovered. It is right for you to think of your future, of your life plan and the way your prepare to accomplish it. When you are fifty, it will be easier to you to realise that only Jesus Christ has understand everything in the world, in life, in history and in the Father’s salvation plan. He is the truth. When this is clearer to you, you will see even the life plans, and follow the Lord more faithfully. And after following him for many years you realise that we must share part of his experiences, including suffering and humiliation. We become then believable witness of the Gospel, we conform to him more and more and we do not deny him any longer with our lifestyle”. Anyway, whatever our Christian progress in life may be, the Lord’s mercy will never abandon us: “if we are unfaithful he remains faithful, for he cannot deny himself”.