January 1997

The Word of Life, taken from Scripture, is offered each month as a guide and inspiration for daily living.

"On behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God." (2Cor 5:20)

This is Paul's exhortation to the Corinthians following his great announcement, the heart of the whole Gospel: God has reconciled the world to himself through Christ (cf. 2 Cor 5:19).

God has given us the greatest proof of his love in the death of his Son on the cross. through the cross of Christ, he has reconciled us to himself.

This fundamental truth of our faith has much to say to our times. It is the revelation that all humanity is waiting for: yes, God is near, he loves everyone and he loves each one immensely. Our world needs to hear this truth, but we can proclaim it if, first, we proclaim it to ourselves to the point of realizing that we are enveloped by his love, even when everything might make us think the opposite.

"On behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

This faith in the love of God cannot remain closed up in the inner depths of our hearts. As Paul explains very well: God has given us the ministry of bringing others to reconciliation with him (cf. 2 Cor 5:18) by entrusting to eah Christian the great responsibility of bearing witness to God's love for all people. How?

Our behavior should make credible the truth we are announcing. Jesus said clearly that before bringing our offering to the altar, we should be reconciled with our neighbors if they have something against us (cf. Mt 5:23-24).

This holds true first of all within our families, groups, associations, Churches. In other words, we are called to bring down all the barriers that block harmony among people and nations.

In particular, during this month in which the Week of Prayer for Christian Unity is being celebrated in many parts of the world, we are called to collaborate and join in prayer, especially in order to do our part to remove those obstacles which stand in the way of full communion among the Churches.

"On behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God."

"On behalf of Christ" means "in his place." It means taking his place, living with him and like him; it means loving one another as he loved us, without conditions and prejudices. It means being open to recognizing and appreciating the positive values of our neighbor, and being ready to give our lives for one another. This is Jesus' commandment par excellence, the characteristic of Christians, as valid today as it was in the times of the early followers of Christ.

Living these words means becoming reconcilers.

If our every gesture, every word, every attitude is imbued with love, it will be like that of Jesus. Like him, we will be bearers of joy and hope, of concord and peace, that is, harbingers of a world reconciled to God (cf. 2 Cor 5;19) which all of creation is waiting for.

Chiara Lubich