By: Chad Hyatt
Reflection—v. 17 ‘Brothers and sisters, join in imitating me’
Paul certainly knew how to understand his own story by the cross-story. In fact, our reading is at the end of one of Paul’s most remarkable attempts to do just that. Paul’s own storytelling comes after inviting his hearers to make the cross-story the narrative for their own life together in community—or as he said to them, ‘let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus.’ Our reading reminds us of two things. First, the cross-story is a narrative we must choose—and keep choosing amid the changing currents of our life experiences. Why? Because other stories are out there. And though we would like to think differently, these stories are not compatible with the story the cross tells and the God of love it reveals. Paul warns us to resist the easy path, where our own selfish desires make us ‘enemies of the cross.’ The seductive pull of the powers-that-be—and the peace we like to make with them, however we justify it—are as near to us as our own wants unchecked by love for others. Pointedly, he says, ‘their minds are set on earthly things,’ perhaps alluding to the his earlier call to have the mind of Christ. But the path that leads to life is just as close, and that is the second thing Paul wants to tell us. We are called to imitate one another as we see one another living the cross-story. We are not in this alone. Not only does God’s grace come to liberate us, but God has graced each of us with one another—and with all the saints, down through the ages. We learn from one another, even as we teach one another. To live our lives by the cross-story is to live with such love that others can trace that sacred sign in their relationship with us—and we can gaze upon its luminous mystery in them.
Prayer Lord, with you and with all the saints, help us to sign the cross by the way we love.