Scripture:I, Paul, handed on to you, Corinthians, as of first importance what I in turn had received: that Christ died for our sins in accordance with the scriptures; and that he was buried and that he was raised on the third day in accordance with the scriptures. I am the least of the apostles, unfit to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God. But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me has not been in vain. (1 Corinthians 15:3-4, 9-10a)
Reflection:Out of a solid spirituality of mission a person delivers the basic message, what Paul refers to as the gospel. As he indicates in his First Letter to the Corinthians, that gospel has three aspects. The first is that Christ died for sins. What Paul means by this is that Jesus’s life was a sacrifice offered to God, who accepted it by removing people’s failings and offering them the grace that reconciles them to God. Paul experienced God’s grace in his encounter with the risen Christ. And that grace not only removed his sin of attempting to wipe out Christianity, but it made him a messenger of that graceful justification to others.
The second aspect of Paul’s gospel is that after Jesus died he was buried. Jesus, the Son of God, had to be human and die. He had to be human in order to show all other humans how to accept God’s grace and live in a healthy relationship with God through good times and through bad times. Paul often refers to Jesus as the new Adam; Jesus cooperated with God, unlike the first Adam, and died. However, God raised him from the dead on the third day. The third aspect of Paul’s gospel is one of those mighty deeds of God. Not only does God manifest his power by raising Jesus from the dead, but he also validates the work of Jesus. He puts his stamp of approval on the life that Jesus led. Thus, Jesus becomes the model for believers to imitate. If they do so, they have the hope that God will do for them what he did for Christ.
The grace of God, God’s act of sharing himself with people, changes people. It enabled Jesus to go willingly to his death on a cross in the hope that God would raise him to new life. It enabled Paul, one of the best persecutors of the church, to become a missionary of the very movement he had once attempted to destroy. The grace of God continues to be offered to people today; if it is accepted, it transforms those who welcome it. It makes them fearless evangelizers of the basic message that Jesus died for sins, that he was buried, and that he was raised from the dead by God.
Journal/Meditation: What do you consider to be the basic message of Christianity? Are Paul’s three aspects contained in your outline of evangelization?
Prayer:Ever-Living God, with your grace you kept your Son faithful to the mission of saving the world that you had entrusted to him. Keep me faithful in proclaiming Jesus Christ as the redeemer of the world, and grant that after death I may share in his resurrection. He is Lord forever and ever. Amen.