Strength of Faith
In Christ Jesus you who once were far off have become near by the blood of Christ.
Over the months of Ordinary Time, a time dedicated to growth, we focus on how we live out the Christian faith, how we walk in Strength of Faith. Remember, we are focusing on our Strength of Faith.
So far, we have considered our “transformation” into Christ’s image here and now. How we must say no to fear and stand in strength of faith. How we must disregard ridicule, naysayers, and panic relying on Jesus as we work to overcome all things in the strength that is ours. How the reaction of others must not define what we do, but rather how we remain faithful to our mission and decision to follow Jesus. And, last week, how we express our faith in action.
This week we focus on the presence of Church and the identity of the Shepherd; how in Jesus, we who were far off have become near and the model we are to live.
Jeremiah begins with a lamentation aimed at those who do not live up to God’s standard. The rest of this Sunday’s scriptures walk us through to the recognition of the One Shepherd, and the model He has left us. A model we are to live in strength of faith living up to His standard.
St. Paul tells us that we were far off, living in enmity, in separation from God. But now, those who believe by faith in Christ, have become near to God. We now have one Shepherd, Jesus Who has broken the wall of partition, reconciling us to God and making us one, His Church.
Jesus broke down all barriers and partitions between us and God for this exact reason, so that His followers as Church might live as a new creation and work to establish His kingdom.
The model is this: That we proclaim the Gospel of peace near and far. That we summon people who remain afar off so that they too might have access by one Spirit to the Father.
We, as Church, are the model household of God, a holy people, people who are the building of the Church ourselves, a habitation for the Lord. Bottom line, we are to live in the world ministering to it in strength of faith because Jesus lives in us.
In Old Testament times mere men offered sacrifice to God on behalf of people. They offered sacrifice for sin and for thanksgiving. Yet that sacrifice was imperfect, and we remained separated from God. Jesus changed all that and offered the one perfect sacrifice of Himself to make us holy and near. He also instituted the eternal re-presentation of His sacrifice which we celebrate here so that all who gather as His body might be strengthened, renewed, and revitalized in living out the model He set for us.
Let us not confuse ourselves over the identity of the Chief Shepherd and let us recognize His eternal presence in us who are Church, and our duty to live His model in strength of faith all the time.