“Join with others in being imitators of me, brothers and sisters, and observe those who thus conduct themselves according to the model you have in us” (Phil 3:17), Saint Paul urges the church at Philippi and us today. Far from being boastful, Paul understands that following Christ to the cross is not an individual but a communal endeavor. We need one another for support, encouragement, and example.
The church recognizes the importance of the baptized community’s role in being examples of faith to those preparing to be initiated: “During Lent, the period of purification and enlightenment, the faithful should take care to participate in the rites of the scrutinies and presentations and give the elect the example of their own renewal in the spirit of penance, faith, and charity” (Rite of Christian Initiation of Adults 9.4).The elect do not learn how to follow Christ by sitting in a classroom; they learn by observing other disciples in the community and imitating them. Click To Tweet
The elect do not learn how to follow Christ by sitting in a classroom; they learn by observing other disciples in the community and imitating them. Our acts of penance, faith, and charity teach those new to the Christian way of life how to be imitators of Christ. In turn, we might be renewed ourselves to be better examples for them and for one another.
Paul knew well that no one follows Christ faithfully on their own but only when they “join with others” with charity and encouragement.
This post was first published in “GIA Quarterly: A Liturgical Music Journal.”
Image credit: Photo by Omelchenko from Getty Images.
Read more reflections on the Sunday readings here:
- Opening our lives to the stranger
- The meaning of prayer
- Hospitality of home and heart
- Can we be neighbors?
- Leading music and prayer