On Sunday's Second Reading: Galatians 2

Throughout his letters, Paul’s statements display the enormity of his conversion experience. One of the starkest statements he makes occurs in Galatians 2:20: "I have been crucified with Christ; yet I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me; insofar as I now live in the flesh, I live by faith in the Son of God who has loved me and given himself up for me." Paul started with the heinous execution of Christ and then pondered how to experience that crucifixion himself vicariously. In a remarkable interpretation of that event, he understands that just as Jesus subjected himself to suffering so that he might conquer death, the followers of Jesus are given the gift of allowing their old selves to be crucified with Christ. It is important to understand that Paul means what he says. That sounds platitudinous, but sometimes the familiarity of the Pauline epistles can blind us to the radicality of his positions. For him, the transformation of the Christian is complete and total (cf. Romans 6:4, 2 Corinthians 5:17). To be a Christian means that what once was powerful (the flesh and its desires) has perished, and what seemed like weakness (Jesus’ willingness to die) has infused the human with the powerful spirit of God. When we view a crucifix, we somberly remember that Christ’s sufferings occurred on our behalf. But the Galatians passage adds a second dimension to the symbolism of the crucifix. Christ died so that we might also put to death our fleshly selves and thereby experience the transformation of the resurrection. The good news of the crucifixion, especially made clear in this passage, is that the most horrendous and ignoble death has become the instrument and the symbol of the most glorious and transformative life. Kyle A. Keefer
Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

So what does it matter what a celibate woman thinks about contraception?
Helena BurnsJuly 20, 2018
Former US President Barack Obama gestures to the crowd, during an event in Kogelo, Kisumu, Kenya, Monday, July 16, 2018. (AP Photo Brian Inganga)
In Johannesburg, Obama gave what some commentators consider his most important speech since he vacated the Oval Office.
Anthony EganJuly 20, 2018
With his "Mass," Leonard Bernstein uses liturgy to give voice to political unease.
Kevin McCabeJuly 20, 2018
Cardinal Theodore E. McCarrick, retired archbishop of Washington, arrives for the Jan. 6 installation Mass of Cardinal Joseph W. Tobin at the Cathedral Basilica of the Sacred Heart in Newark, N.J. (CNS photo/Bob Roller)
Women often “bring up the voice of those who are the most vulnerable in our society,” says Hans Zollner, S.J., who heads the Centre for Child Protection in Rome.