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

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The appointments are part of an ongoing effort to give a greater role to women in the work of the Roman Curia offices, the central administration of the Catholic church.
Gerard O’ConnellApril 21, 2018
Ivette Escobar, a student at Central American University in San Salvador, helps finish a rug in honor of the victims in the 1989 murder of six Jesuits, their housekeeper and her daughter on the UCA campus, part of the 25th anniversary commemoration of the Jesuit martyrs in 2014. (CNS photo/Edgardo Ayala) 
A human rights attorney in the United States believes that the upcoming canonization of Blessed Oscar Romero in October has been a factor in a decision to revisit the 1989 Jesuit massacre at the University of Central America.
Kevin ClarkeApril 20, 2018
Journalists photograph the lethal injection facility at San Quentin State Prison in California in 2010. (AP Photo/Eric Risberg, File)
In California, Catholic opponents of the death penalty are trying to protect the largest population of inmates awaiting execution in the Western Hemisphere.
Jim McDermottApril 20, 2018
Photo: the Hank Center at Loyola University Chicago
Bishop McElroy said that Catholics must embrace “the virtues of solidarity, compassion, integrity, hope and peace-building.”