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CHRIST IN YOU, THE HOPE OF GLORY
Fr. Steven Scherrer, MM, ThD
Homily of Monday, 23rd Week of the Year, September 07, 2015
Col. 1:24-2:3, Ps. 61, Luke 6:6-11


Scripture quotations are from the RSV unless otherwise noted.

 

"To them God chose to make known how great among the Gentiles are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).


St. Paul has been chosen by God to make known among the Gentiles the great mystery of Christ's presence within us, transforming and renewing us through our faith and giving us the hope of future glory. It is Christ who redeems us from sin and the sadness and depression of guilt for having sinned and failed to perfectly do God's will. This is his greatest gift. Then the Holy Spirit continues to work in us to sanctify us still further.


In his letter to the Romans St. Paul says, "If Christ is in you, although your bodies are dead because of sin, your spirits are alive because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10). Sin brought death into the world. It was imposed by God as the punishment for sin. "Therefore as sin came into the world through one man and death through sin, and so death spread to all men because all men sinned ... " (Rom. 5:12). So our bodies are subject to death because of sin, nonetheless "our spirits are alive because of righteousness" (Rom. 8:10).


That is, because Christ is in us, we are justified by him, and this gives life to our spirit. So this is the great mystery of Christ in us and what his presence within us does for us. This is the great "mystery hidden for all ages and generations but now made manifest to his saints" (Col. 1:26).


The mystery of Christ within us means new life for us now in God with a happy and clean conscience, declared and made righteous and holy by God, because of Christ, by faith, apart from works. It is this mystery that cancels our evil deeds, our sins, and cleanses our darkened and pained conscience, all because of Christ's work on the cross, not because of our work. We then build on this justification and forgiveness by our subsequent good and virtuous works and so grow in sanctification. But it is Christ's work in us that gives us the hope of glory. So St. Paul says that this is indeed a great mystery, namely "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27).


Because we are justified by Christ through faith we live in hope of glory, namely that we will enter into the presence of God at the end of our life. Since we are now righteous in him through his merits, we look forward to the glorious end of our life. We live in joyful hope. "If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will give life to your mortal bodies also through his Spirit who dwells in you" (Rom. 8:11). Even though our bodies are subject to death because of sin; our spirits are alive because of justification (Rom. 8:10), and God will even raise our mortal bodies through his Spirit that dwells in us, the same Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead. So while we are subject to death and decay because of sin, we live in hope of glory because of justification. The present interior renewal of our spirit through justification by faith gives us this hope for the future.

 

Indeed, "if we have died with Christ, we believe that we shall also live with him" (Rom. 6:8). We have died with Christ because in his death we have been justified, which means that we die to our old man of sin and rise with Christ as a new man. So we have died with Christ. This gives us hope for the future, for the life after our death.


Notice the tenses of the verbs: "If we have died with Christ" (past tense), "we believe that we shall also live with him" (future tense) (Rom. 6:8). It is true that we live a new life with him even now, but the verb tense points to the future: "We shall also live with him." Christ gives us hope for the future, for the end of our life, a future of glory with God in the fullness of his kingdom, where "the righteous will shine like the sun in the kingdom of their Father" (Matt. 13:43). And in Colossians St. Paul says that the great mystery is "Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). Our future life with God in the fullness of his kingdom is our hope.


This hope for the future helps us even now. It gives our life a joyful end to look forward to and encourages us to live a holy life now, to be pure as God is pure, to live now already in his friendship and love, to already participate in his glory so that nothing may block our entrance into the fullness of life when we die. So Christ in us is indeed the hope of glory.


What is this hope, and how shall we now live in its light? St. John says, "We know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is. And every one who thus hopes in him purifies himself as he is pure" (1 John 3:2-3). We shall see God and we shall be glorious like him. Therefore we should now be purifying ourselves to be pure as he is pure. This is sanctification that comes after and builds upon justification.


Christ came to redeem us and purify us by making himself a sin offering for us to justify us. So now we should live a holy life, giving up - not chasing after - worldly passions, and awaiting the coming in glory of our Savior. This is what St. Paul tells us: "For the grace of God has appeared for the salvation of all men, training us to renounce irreligion and worldly passions, and to live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope, the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ, who gave himself for us to redeem us from all iniquity and to purify for himself a people of his own who are zealous for good deeds" (Titus 2:11-14).


Christ redeemed and justified us and is now sanctifying us still further, because he is preparing us for the glory that is to come. So we are to renounce worldly passions and "live sober, upright, and godly lives in this world, awaiting our blessed hope" (Titus 2:12-13).


Through St. Paul God is now making known among the Gentiles "how great ... are the riches of the glory of this mystery, which is Christ in you, the hope of glory" (Col. 1:27). And by reading and preaching St. Paul's writings we are coming to know this mystery more deeply today and are making it better known in the world for the salvation and hope of many.

 

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