Thursday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Philippians 3:3-8a; Luke 15:1-10)
A man speaks of his experience of God. He says that the day his wife’s doctor reported that she had breast cancer, he felt particularly low. That even, as was his custom, he went into his parish church to lock up. Then, in the darkness, he felt the embrace of the Lord around his body. From then on, the man knew that everything was going to be all right. Almost certainly, St. Paul refers to an experience such as this in the first reading today.
Paul is never ashamed of being a Jew. Quite the contrary, he knows that Jews have been chosen by God to bear the divine promise of salvation. He is likewise almost gleeful to have been faithful to the Covenant between God and Israel. But Paul is certain that in the end, being a Jew is not important. Nor is it very helpful to be righteous based on the law. What really counts is to have encountered Jesus Christ. As he so uncompromisingly puts it, “…I consider everything as a loss because of the supreme good of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord.”
We too know the Lord Jesus. Perhaps we sense his presence in Confession where we are accepted even after revealing what is most ugly about ourselves. Or maybe we have encountered him through a gospel parable that has seared our consciousness with wisdom, goodness, and beauty. Maybe we have recognized him in the man who bed-ridden for eleven years says that he has nothing to complain about when he looks at a crucifix. We know Jesus and we love him. That is all that matters.