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hand of Christ statuePhoto by the blowup, courtesy of Unsplash.

A Reflection for Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Find today’s readings here.

Discipleship has two elements: salvation and sanctification. Historically, Christian thinkers have spent more time trying to understand salvation, answering the question “What must I do to be saved?” In this way of thinking, the “faith of Christ” is a set of beliefs and actions which disciples live out in order to be righteous in the eyes of God. Creeds, catechisms, mission statements and church constitutions usually fall into this category. For most Christians, following the path of salvation is the basis of their relationship with Jesus Christ.

But sanctification is essential too, and disciples are also called to ask themselves, “What must I do to become like Christ?” In this way of thinking, learning the “faith of Christ” means getting into Jesus’ head, believing what he believed, feeling what he felt, experiencing what he experienced. This is possible because, as St. Paul explains, a mystical connection exists between Christ and his disciples. Those who come to believe gain participate not just in Christ’s resurrection but also in the “mind of Christ” (1 Cor 2:16). As they learn to fulfill Gospel commandments, disciples can start to see the world through the eyes of Christ. As St. Paul notes in today’s first reading, those who live in Christ will gain insights on his suffering and his encouragement.

As Christ’s disciples, we ought never to forget that living according to his vision allows us to see the world through his eyes, and to become holy as he is holy.

Jesus shares an essential part of his mind in today’s Gospel reading. These blessings, traditionally called the “Beatitudes,” are not commandments, but rather statements of vision. The circumstances that the Beatitudes describe can (and probably will) befall every person. Some are things that the world dismisses as bad luck (poverty, mourning, persecution, etc.). Some are things that are good but do little to build up the ego (meekness, peacemaking, mercy). What Jesus tries to teach his disciples is how important each of these circumstances has been to his own divine mission. Because he lived out the Beatitudes, Jesus never “got in his own way.” He was able to pause and reflect, and to see God at work even under unfortunate conditions that many would flee. He was able to avoid situations in which human pride or vanity might obscure the presence of God. He knew how to live in the moment, no matter what that moment entailed. Doing so also brought him into contact with many who were already implicitly living the Beatitudes in their own lives, people whose long-suffering nature and quiet humility made them especially open to the truth of the Gospel.

In the eyes of many, life in the Beatitudes promises only obscurity and distress. As Christ’s disciples, we ought never to forget that living according to his vision allows us to see the world through his eyes, and to become holy as he is holy. His mind and heart become our own whenever we live according to these words.

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