28th Sunday in Ordinary Time
Oct. 13, 2013
2 Tim 2: 8-13
Ursulines, Willow Drive, N.R.
“Remember Jesus Christ, raised from the dead, a descendant of David: such is my gospel” (2 Tim 2: 8).
|"I am the resurrection and the life; whoever believes in me, even if he die, will live" (John 11:25)|
To take the 2 parts of the statement in reverse order: “Jesus Christ, a descendant of David.” That’s almost redundant since Christ in Greek means Messiah in Hebrew, both of which translate into English as “anointed.” The Messiah is descended from David; hence all those gospel references to Jesus as “Son of David.” All God’s promises for Israel, all the hopes of the Jewish people come together in this Christ, called Jesus from Nazareth. The Law and the prophets are summed up in him—remember the famous scene on Mt. Tabor.
2d in my approach but 1st in priority: “Jesus Christ, raised from the dead.” He’s the Anointed One of God; therefore God raised him from the tomb. We know he’s the Anointed because God raised him, and as Paul writes to the Corinthians (I, 15:5-8), numerous people are witnesses to this: they spoke with him, touched him, and ate with him after he rose from the dead. God’s raising him testifies to the validity of his life and of his preaching. If he’s alive, when we share the Eucharist we share his living Body and, filled with his messianic life, we start on the road to our own resurrection to everlasting life.
“Such is my gospel,” Paul says. “This is the good news that I believe and preach.” It’s good news meant for everyone because Jesus has come to save everyone, Jew and Gentile, slave and free, men and women—save us all from eternal death thru the forgiveness of our sins, thru the possibility of reforming our lives and modeling them on Jesus Christ, who so pleased God that God raised him from the dead and in that act marked him, sealed him, as the perfect model of a man pleasing to God, as a human being who points us in the right direction on the road to life; indeed, as the one Person who thru his twofold nature grabs hold of humanity and escorts us into the kingdom of God. Since God has certified Jesus’ teaching and activity, we know for certain that we will come to resurrection and eternal life by following him, by being laid hold of by him: “It’s no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me” (Gal 2:20). “Such is my gospel.”
Paul reinforces what he’s been saying by quoting what seems to be part of a hymn: “If we have died with him, we shall also live with him; if we persevere, we shall also reign with him” (2:11-12). Death with Jesus begins with our dying to ourselves thru repentance and conversion. It may also mean persecution for the sake of the faith, as Paul’s experiencing: chains (2:9), imprisonment, the possibility of trial, condemnation, and martyrdom.
Certainly, the former form of death is a necessity of the Christian life, a prerequisite of eternal life: we must repent and be converted from our selfishness and our paganism into Christians, people who walk with Jesus. The latter form of dying with Christ ever remains a possibility. According to John Allen’s new book The Global War on Christians, 100,000 Christians were killed in the 1st decade of this century for their beliefs. In this country people are being harassed, sued, and prosecuted for their beliefs about the sacredness of human life, the meaning of marriage, and the integrity of human sexuality. Cardinal George said, apparently in May 2010, “I expect to die in bed, my successor will die in prison, and his successor will die a martyr in the public square. His successor will pick up the shards of a ruined society and slowly help rebuild civilization, as the Church has done so often in human history.” This is, perhaps, an exaggeration, but it’s also a reflection of the anti-Christian trend of Western society—and a prediction that the gates of hell shall not prevail over the Gospel. The Word of God cannot be chained (2:9).
We can combat that anti-Christian trend by preaching Paul’s gospel, and especially by living it with conviction and joy.