by Rev. Jeff Loseke
More often than not, the Second Reading at Mass each Sunday comes from one of the letters of St. Paul. In many ways, he is a model for us to embrace and to follow, especially in our own identity as Christians, who, like Paul, never met Jesus in the flesh. There can be no doubt that Christianity would look very differently today—if it existed at all!—without the efforts of St. Paul and his companion missionaries. For this reason, the Church has always regarded St. Paul as a model for evangelization and as one of the principal architects of the Church. Saint Paul’s missionary strategy (i.e., establishing a communal identity among new believers) is precisely what the Catholic Church has always understood as “Sacred Tradition.” Saint Paul and the other Apostles modeled their style of leadership after that of Jesus Christ and passed it on in a living Tradition. Jesus gathered His closest followers around Himself and, for a period of about three years, established a way of life that would give them their identity as His Apostles. He did not hand them a book of instructions; rather, He enjoined upon them a way of life, a communal identity, a Sacred Tradition. They in turn passed it on to the next generation.
We ourselves should be very aware of this communal aspect of the Sacred Tradition, especially in the weekly ritual of Sunday Mass. In the Church, there is an old adage: lex orandi, lex credendi, lex vivendi. In essence, it declares that what we pray is what we believe, and what we believe is how we live. Ritual, belief, and way of life are intimately tied together. I know that part of my role as a Priest is to help men and women discover who they are in Jesus Christ. In so doing, I realize that I am helping them to be defined by their faith in God, which ought to have a concrete effect on their lives when they leave the church building.
At the end of Mass, we are instructed by the minister to go forth and to spread the Good News by the way we live our own lives. In essence, we are sent out on mission, just like St. Paul for the salvation of the whole world. This is certainly something we must reflect upon in our daily lives, especially in moments of difficulty or tedium. We ought to be reminded just how important each and every opportunity is. More than daily monotony, each moment is laced with the potential to change the world by changing those whom we encounter. I imagine St. Paul and his companions recognized this when they chose to do very ordinary things in quite extraordinary ways, thus breathing new life into Christianity. Why should one think that today we are any less able to have as profound an effect on the world as St. Paul did if it is the same Jesus Christ at work in all of us? With St. Paul, we too can say, “I live, no longer I, but Christ lives in me” (Galatians 2:20a).
The Reverend Jeffery S. Loseke is a Priest of the Archdiocese of Omaha and is currently the pastor of St. Charles Borromeo Parish in Gretna, Nebraska. Ordained in 2000, Fr. Loseke holds a Licentiate in Sacred Theology (S.T.L.) from the Pontifical Athenaeum of St. Anselm in Rome and is working to complete his doctoral degree (Ed.D.) in interdisciplinary leadership through Creighton University in Omaha. In addition to parish ministry, Fr. Loseke has served as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force, taught high school theology and college-level philosophy, and has been a presenter for various missions, retreats, and diocesan formation days across the country.
Art: St Paul Healing the Cripple at Lystra by Karel Dujardin, 1663 (Wikimedia Commons)