Often a chance remark or a question gets me thinking and ends up jump-starting what I write. So I wonder, what inspired Paul as he wrote 2 Cor 5:14-17, today’s second reading? He is writing around the year 55, so just 20 years after Jesus’ death. I wonder if people were lamenting to Paul: “Some people were lucky, they actually saw Jesus! If we had seen Jesus too, maybe our faith would be stronger, maybe we could be better followers of him!” “…We regard no one according to the flesh; even if we once knew Christ according to the flesh, yet now we know him no longer,” Paul writes. Paul had never seen Jesus of Nazareth. He is, like us, one of those believers of whom Jesus said to Thomas: Have you come to believe because you have seen me? Blessed are those who have not seen and have believed (Jn 21:30). Since John’s Gospel was written around the year 100, we can assume difficulty about having faith without seeing Jesus of Nazareth was a persistent one among early Christians. Paul’s answer draws on his own experience of the risen Christ — that powerful and internal experience of the presence of the risen Christ that converted him when he was persecuting Christians. The love of Christ impels us, he says. The Greek verb that is translated “impels” means to hold in a grip, to constrain. And so Paul expects that anyone who understands and experiences the risen Christ will also be so gripped, and have changed behavior (and live not for themselves anymore), and have their perspective changed. We will be able to see beyond the fleshly or historical person before us, past the human weaknesses and imperfections that might annoy us, and into the new creation they have become. Please read that second reading, a profound scriptural passage. May our own inner experience of the risen Christ grow in us this week!
– Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia