Monday of the Twenty-eighth Week in Ordinary Time
(Romans 1:1-7; Luke 11:29-32)
St. Augustine once wrote, “With you I am a Christian; for you I am a bishop.” The first title, he went on, filled him with consolation while the second one made him fearful. Augustine, like Paul in his salutation to the Romans which we read today, realizes that Christ comforts his people. On the other hand, to be a bishop means to stand in the place of Christ – which is the daunting task of approximating his love for others.
In the reading Paul calls himself a “slave of Christ.” All Christians need to understand themselves in this way. We are to do what he commands. But this term by no means exhausts our identity. More than that, we are Christ’s sisters and brothers, adopted into God’s family as daughters and sons. This means that we carry out Christ’s commands not out of submission but out of freedom. In other words we do not see God as a prisoner views the warden watching every move the latter makes. We rightly view God more like a mother observing her baby begin to walk and ready to assist the child at every step.
Paul also emphasizes that Christ has sent him out as his apostle. But he does not claim any particular privilege for being so named. Rather he realizes the terrible burdens that Christ has laid upon him with the sending. In other writings Paul lists the sufferings that he has undergone in bringing the gospel to others. For now he is content with mentioning how the call to apostleship links him with women and men in different places as sisters and brothers.