Saturday of the Thirtieth Week in Ordinary Time

“For to me life is Christ, and death is gain,” says St. Paul in his letter to the Philippians.  At first glance, this comment can seem rather morose or psychotic.  Does Paul see death as something to which we should be attracted or desiring?  On the contrary, to be a follow of Christ, to be a true Christian is to be a person who imitates Christ, follows in Christ’s footsteps.  Christ, as only Son of the eternal Father, “Did not deem equality with God something to be grasped, rather he emptied himself and took the form of a slave, obediently accepting even death, death on a cross…”(Phil 2, 6)  The love, mercy, and deep compassion of God for all of humanity is poured forth through Christ who goes to the point of death to show us how much the Father loves us.  Therefore, when Paul says that “Death is gain” what he is referring to is entering into the very death of Christ.  And, as St. Ignatius stresses in the Spiritual Exercises, “If are willing to share in Christ’s suffering, then we will also share in Christ’s resurrection.”  Death is gain because we are drawn into divine love, the unconditional love God pours forth for humanity.  This love is that which gives us dignity, lifts us to the fullness of who we can be, and carries us through our most severe trials singing the heavenly praises of our eternal Father.  Thus, to imitate Christ is as today’s Gospel says, to humble ourselves, even to the point of dying, daily, to our self-absorbed and immediate satisfactions, for the grace of exaltation through the cross of our Lord.

October 29th, 2016