"Christ will be honoured in my body"
During the celebration of a sunday mass in the thaumaturgical place our bishop invited us to read carefully a passage of Paul's letter to the Philippians: "It is my eager expectation and hope that I shall not be at all ashamed, but that with full courage now as always Christ will be honoured in my body, whether by life or by death. For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. If it is to be life in the flesh, that means fruitful labour for me. Yet which I shall choose I cannot tell. I am hard pressed between the two. My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better. But to remain in the flesh is more necessary on your account. Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith, so that in me you may have ample cause to glory in Christ Jesus, because of my coming to you again". (Phil. 1, 20-26)
The bishop outlined the strength and intensity of this passage, in which the richness and depth of God's thought are expressed through Paul's heart and mind. The statement: "Christ will be honoured in my body" is peculiar to each person who lives in the grace of God. The bishop explained us that when we receive the Eucharist our body becomes an eucharistic tabernacle and it is holy because it is sanctified by the divine presence and action, so it is a body that honours God. Who lives and acts in a state of grace has to be considered a masterpiece of the divine artist. In this powerful action of the Lord must be included the priestly action which has its own efficacy since God included it in the sacrament of priesthood.
During our earthly life we can't know God completely, we have only a deformed image of Him which will be replaced by the real one in the moment we enter the Paradise. Our body lives a double moment: it honours Christ during the earthly life, but it will show all its beauty as a God's masterpiece in the moment of the Resurrection, when soul and body will be united again and the limited but real human love will be before the infinite divine Love.
Paul reflects upon his life and affirms that for him dying is better than living, because only through the death he will be able to have the beatific vision of God and he will leave the earthly life which is often sorrowful. On the contrary, Paul finds himself before a grievous and painful choice: he would like to unite himself definitively with God in the Paradise, but due to his fatherly love and the apostolic anxiety of bringing his brothers to Jesus he is ready to stay on the Earth to continue the work of preaching and forming, so that his brothers can take advantage of it for their spiritual growth. This total immolation should be the choice of all priests.
However the bishop outlined that all this can be understood only if love is present, without it there can be irony, sarcasm, refusal; the world runs away before the mysterious reality of death, on the contrary for the christian it is the moment of his greatest aspiration: being as a whole with Christ. During the earthly life this reality is possible, but in the afterlife it is sublimed and that union with God that was real but weak on the Earth, becomes strong in the Paradise where we will be no more in danger of being separated from the Lord.
This letter was written by Paul during one of his several imprisonments, he is in a crucial moment of his life: he is going to be judged and maybe condemned, nevertheless he is still so full of love for his faithful that he nearly outrages himself to believe that, notwithstanding his imprisonment, he will be set free and will continue his apostolate ("Convinced of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all, for your progress and joy in the faith ").
Moreover the Philippians Paul's followers were proud of being his disciples and in this letter he urges them to be more and more similar to Christ so that this pride can increase.
The bishop emphasized that in all the letters of this great apostle there is a deep union with the H. Gospel, they are its explanation and presentation; the Word of God is expressed through Paul's inspired love.