Life in Christ
Columna del Arzobispo José H. Gómez
For to me life is Christ, and death is gain. (Phil 1:21) These words of St. Paul describe not only his own extraordinary life, fully devoted to the Lord Jesus, but also what our daily lives as believers should be.
In fact, being a Christian does not consist of believing in an ideology or subscribing to certain traditional practices. Being a Christian means being of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI reminded us during the first week of Easter that being Christians means being men and women “whose lives have been forever transformed by the death and resurrection of Christ.” Forever transformed by Christ. This is the essence of bearing the name of Christians.
This is how St. Paul lived his life after his dramatic conversion on the road to Damascus until his martyrdom in Rome. And in the context of this Pauline Year, it is very helpful for us to remember how the life of a Christian, a life in Christ, must be radically different from the life of those who do not believe in Christ.
Christ, who is light, illumines our lives. That is why St. Paul writes to us saying that “it is the hour now for you to awake from sleep. For our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed; the night is advanced, the day is at hand. Let us then throw off the works of darkness (and) put on the armor of light; let us conduct ourselves properly as in the day, not in orgies and drunkenness, not in promiscuity and licentiousness, not in rivalry and jealousy.” (Rom 13:11-13)
A Christian life, then, means not only living under the light of the risen Christ, but also living away from darkness.
If we are children of light, and we want to live “as in the day,” that is, without anything reproaching our conscience, we should always ask ourselves what things in our lives threaten to lead us to darkness. It is a matter of discovering what aspects of our daily life — thoughts, feelings, behaviors or habits — are not compatible with our identity as Christians and our dignity of children of God, of men and women born of light.
Light and darkness are incompatible. One always dispels the other.
That is why St. Paul uses this powerful image or something similar more than five times in his letters to explain the same life lesson: that a Christian who does not choose to live in the light is actively (or sometimes, passively) choosing to live in darkness.
The Pauline image of light and the day is also important because it explains what should move our hearts: it shouldn’t be fear of the law or of punishment. Rather, attraction to the light is what should move us.
And since light naturally dispels darkness, we naturally reject the darkness in our lives by approaching the light, which is God, through a life of prayer and familiarity with Him, just as a healthy organism rejects what contaminates or harms it.
Thus, the Christian life, as Pope John Paul II said when he presented his encyclical “Evangelium Vitae” to a group of young Romans, “is a great ‘yes’ to life, which involves some necessary and convincing ‘noes’ to anything that jeopardizes a full life in God.”
But a new day does not come all at once. Dawn is a transition from darkness to light. That is why St. Paul tells us that “the day is at hand”: because the final day will arrive only when we finally see face to face, the one whom Zechariah described as “the daybreak from on high.” (Lk 1:78)
In the meantime, our struggle should be to have our lives be a more and more intense, bright and luminous dawn.
Therefore, we are not Christians only on Sundays and days of obligation. We are Christians every day, all day. No doubt, it is a constant struggle. But as St. Paul says, “since we are of the day, let us be sober, putting on the breastplate of faith and love and the helmet that is hope for salvation … so that whether we are awake or asleep we may live together with him. (1 Thes 5:8-10)
In this Easter season, when the Lord manifests himself as light even more intensely, I pray that each faithful of the archdiocese may seek and find the necessary means so that our Christian lives may be more and more authentic, more similar to Christ.
And while we strive, cooperating with grace, we “encourage one another and build one another up, as indeed you do.” (1 Thes 5:11)
Fuente: Cortesía de Today’s Catholic Newspaper (Copyright © 2009)