“For to me life is Christ . . .”
In Saint Paul’s letter to the Philippians, Saint Paul seems to be wrestling with remaining on earth and continuing the work that Christ commissioned him to do; spread the Gospel to the Gentiles or moving on to eternal life. It’s the wrestling that is most interesting. His reasoning for staying and going and then finally realizing that it is God’s will that he continue his own journey.
We wrestle with decisions every day. When making a decision we look at the pros and the cons and decide what is in our best interest. We think of our family, career opportunities, living situation and other factors. Saint Paul was doing this as well and he included Christ in the process. Christ, being the center of this process is Saint Paul’s way of giving his life over to Christ and the will of God. This is a process called discernment, where we take time to look at all the factors and then take it to prayer and ask for the grace to be open to where God is taking us. A way of letting go of what we want and looking to what God wants. Saint Paul was open to whatever God asked of him. He was ready to continue working for God on earth and at the same time ready to let go of his earthly life and embrace eternal life.
In the Gospel of Luke another decision is given to a group dining with Jesus at a Pharisees house. Jesus tells a parable about choosing a place at the dinner table. Again, Jesus challenges the Pharisees with his ending, telling all, that those who think themselves better than others and take the highest place will be humbled and those who have chosen the lowest may in turn be asked to move to a higher place. The goal is to make choices that lead us to the heavenly feast. The feast of eternal life comes through our choices to become the person that God created us to be. Through our choices we may also participate in the building of the Kingdom of God now. Through our own suffering we share in the Kingdom and the eternal feast that awaits us.
Saint Paul’s wrestling and Christ’s parable calls each of us to take time to reflect on how we invite Christ into our lives and the choices we make. Do I invite Christ into all aspects of my life? Do I take time in prayer to listen with my heart to where Christ is leading me?
Linda Schork is a theology teacher at Saint Xavier High School in Louisville, Kentucky.