MEDITATION OF THE DAY
Imitating the Imitator of Christ
It was precisely on the road to Damascus that, according to Paul’s words, Christ made me his own…. In his letters he goes directly to the essential and speaks not only of a vision but of an illumination and above all of a revelation and of a vocation in the encounter with the Risen One. In fact, he will explicitly define himself as apostle by vocation or apostle by the will of God, as if to emphasize that his conversion was the fruit of divine intervention, an unforeseeable, divine grace. Henceforth, all that had constituted for him a value paradoxically became, according to his words, a loss and refuse (Phil 3:7-10). And from that moment all his energy was placed at the exclusive service of Jesus Christ and his Gospel…. From here we draw a very important lesson: what counts is to place Jesus Christ at the center of our lives, so that our identity is marked essentially by the encounter, by communion with Christ and with his Word. In his light every other value is recovered and purified from possible dross….
In Paul’s apostolate difficulties were not lacking, which he faced with courage for love of Christ. He himself recalls having endured labors…imprisonment…beatings…numerous brushes with death…. Three times I was beaten with rods, once I was stoned, three times I was shipwrecked, I passed a night and a day on the deep; on frequent journeys, in dangers from rivers, dangers from robbers, dangers from my own race, dangers from Gentiles, dangers in the city, dangers in the wilderness, dangers at sea, dangers among false brothers; in toil and hardship, through many sleepless nights, through hunger and thirst, through frequent fasting, cold, and exposure… (2 Cor 11:23-28). From a passage of the Letter to the Romans (15:24, 28) appears his proposal to push on even to Spain, to the Far West, to announce the Gospel everywhere, even to the then-known ends of the earth…. It is clear that he would not have been able to face such difficult and at times desperate situations if he did not have a reason of absolute value before which no limit could be considered insurmountable. For Paul, this reason is Jesus Christ, of whom he writes: The love of Christ impels us…so that those who live might live no longer for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised (2 Cor 5:14-15) for us, for all. May the Lord help us to put into practice the exhortation left to us by the Apostle in his letters: Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ.
Pope Benedict XVI
His Holiness Benedict XVI reigned as pope from 2005 until 2013. / From General Audience, October 25, 2006. Used with permission of the Libreria Editrice Vaticana. www.vatican.va.