Get PDF The Imitation of Saint Paul: Examining Our Lives in Light of His Example

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Again to quote St. We come to know ourselves, we encounter other people and form relationships, we learn how to love — in our bodies and through our bodies. Our sexuality, given to us by God, affects every dimension of our life and personality — physical and biological, spiritual and psychological, moral and social. In this way we can joyfully accept the specific gifts of another man or woman, the work of God the Creator, and find mutual enrichment. More the exalted creator: Man and woman are made for each other and made to give life. John Paul II used to say. God intends new human life to come into being through the loving union of husband and wife.

We are made for greater things! I always hear this same astonishment when I reflect on these words from the Servant of God, Dorothy Day. If I had written the greatest book, composed the greatest symphony, painted the most beautiful painting or carved the most exquisite figure, I could not have felt more the exalted creator than I did when they placed my child in my arms.

To think that this thing of beauty … had come from my flesh, was my own child.

Such a great feeling of happiness and joy filled me that I was hungry for Someone to thank, to love, even to worship for so great a good that had been bestowed upon me! This is the vision that God has in creating the human person in his image as male and female.

Ecclesiam Suam (August 6, ) | Paul VI

He calls men and women to share, through the union of their bodies in marriage, in his own divinity and in his work of creation. The human family, born from the union of husband and wife, is the foundation of human society. In our society, we need to rediscover the authentic meaning of marriage. But I think it is also important for us to rediscover the authentic meaning of friendship. True friendship is a spiritual fellowship, a communion of the will and the mind that is rooted in a disinterested, unselfish love for the other.

In the lives of the saints, we see the beautiful possibility of our human relationships. Gregory spoke of his friendship with St. Such intimate friendship is also the promise that husbands and wives should strive for in their marital relationships. And of course we know that our relationships here on earth are meant to be purified and transfigured to reflect and prepare us for friendship with Jesus Christ. Mystical body: We are united to all humanity and responsible for one another.

In coming into the world and taking a human body and again in suffering in his flesh and blood on the Cross, Jesus Christ has united himself in some way with all humankind and with every person. Our lives are now joined as one in the one Mystical Body of Christ, which is the Church. In his Mystical Body, we are connected not only to our brothers and sisters in the Church. In a mysterious and real way, each of us is connected to every other man and woman.

For all belong to one city. We share now a single existence in Christ. And that means that in every person we have an encounter with Jesus Christ. Everyone we meet reflects his presence. Jesus takes our mystical communion in his Body even further. In his great parable of the Last Judgment in St. Jesus goes so far as to tell us that our love for God will be judged by our love for him in the bodies of those brothers and sisters who are most burdensome to us and most reviled by our society. This is a call to conscience for all of us in the Church. The witness of Jesus and the apostles is unmistakable — we cannot claim to love the God we do not see, if we do not love the neighbor we do see.

Do not ignore him when he is naked. Do not pay him homage in the temple clad in silk only then to neglect him outside where he suffers cold and nakedness. Mother Teresa of Kolkata, one of many saints who passed through Los Angeles and planted ministries here, used to say that she touched the Body of Christ all day long — first in the Eucharist and then in the bodies of the poor and discarded whom she served. It is the same Christ. To change our lowly bodies: We are made for the resurrection of the body. We are bought with the price of the suffering and death of Jesus Christ, who bore our sins in his body on the Cross.

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Now in the Eucharist, he gives us his own Body and Blood to be our food, our source of life, and to join us together in his Mystical Body. In the transformation of bread and wine that takes place at the altar, we begin to understand the great destiny that God intends for our bodies in his plan of love. This is the glorious truth about who we are as creatures of body and soul, made male and female. Destined in love: God knows our name and he has a plan for our lives. At the start of his letter to the Ephesians, St. Paul makes an astonishing prayer.

It could stand as the summary of everything I hope to share with you in this letter.

He destined us in love to be his children in Jesus Christ according to the purpose of his will, to the praise of his glorious grace , which he freely bestowed on us in the Beloved. It is marvelous to reflect on what this prayer means. Before the foundation of the world , before the world began, when the earth was without form and void, when darkness was still on the face of the deep — already then, God knew your name and my name and he had a plan for our lives. We are chosen and beloved from all eternity, from before the world was created!

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The God who created the sun and the moon, the stars and all the planets — this God wanted you to be born and me , and every other human being. The truth again invites us to adoration and amazement. Each of us is the result of a thought of God. Each of us is willed, each of us is loved, each of us is necessary. Sometimes I think this is one of the hardest Christian truths for people to accept. The universe is so vast, how can God possibly know who I am and care about me?

How can it be that I am someone who is desired and needed by God? I meet others who are anguished by the injustice in the world and the innocent suffering they see. They challenge us: how can we claim that God is good and that he loves us, when he permits such evil and violence to exist in his creation?

But it is true! God is good and God will bring good out of every evil. And as Jesus reminds us, we are of more value than many sparrows!

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Every hair on every head is numbered, and every child is born with a personal angel to be his or her guardian and guide. Our Father holds this world and all of our lives in his loving hand. He cares for everyone of us and for our smallest needs. The suffering and injustice we experience in creation is a call to service and empathy. When the innocent cry out to God in their suffering, we are the answer that God provides. We are called to be his voice of compassion, his hands of love and assistance.

As long as there are Christians, no one should have to suffer alone! In everything God is working for the good of those who love him. We need to stand firm in this faith and we need to witness to this faith in our love for others. Continuing our reflection on St. He tells us that in his love God has destined us to be his children in Jesus Christ. What could be more amazing than this?

By our natural birth, we are all children of God, all creatures of the one Creator. The image of God, the imago Dei , establishes a profound natural solidarity among all human persons. This is the work of Baptism. So this is your true identity.


Jesus is your brother. He knows your name, and he has great plans for your life, plans for love and plans for your glory! You are something special to God — each one of you. There is nobody like you and there is nobody who can replace you! We need to believe this and plan and live our lives accordingly. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the most radical doctrine in the history of ideas. If everyone believed what Jesus proclaimed — that God is our Father and we are all brothers and sisters created in his image with God-given dignity and a transcendent destiny — I cannot help but think that every society could be transformed overnight.

How different our lives would be if we truly believed that we are beloved sons and beloved daughters of our Creator!