This Sunday’s second reading (2 Corinthians 6:1-13) is a rich exhortation to seize the incredible opportunity of grace. God blesses us. God “graces” us. God invites us into relationship, and eternal life begins already deep in our souls. And, there is no time to waste. “Now is the acceptable time; see, now is the day of salvation!”(verse 2). How can we waste time when we, with the same St. Paul (Philippians 3:8), “regard everything as loss because of the surpassing value of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord”?
Now, St. Augustine tells us that "God created us without us; but he will not save us without us”. We will not fully enter into this relationship with God without wanting it, and without loving one anther. We must respond to the divine initiative by opening our hearts—to God in desire and to one another, God’s children.
St. Paul is acutely aware of these demands of divine love and spends himself in response:
As servants of God we have commended ourselves in every way: through great endurance, in afflictions, hardships, calamities, beatings, imprisonments, riots, labors, sleepless nights…
St. Paul is able to do this because he knows that, in Christ, he is safe and he has all that he needs—and then some! Indeed, the distance between what others think of him (and his band of disciples) and what he knows to be true is striking:
We are treated as dying, and see, we are alive; as punished, and yet not killed; as sorrowful, yet always rejoicing; as poor, yet making many rich; as having nothing, and yet possessing everything.
“Do we daily seek “not to accept the grace of God in vain” (verse 1) by expressing great desire and, inseparably, by reaching out to those around us? St. Paul movingly beseeches, “I speak as to children—open wide your hearts” (verse 12).
With you, trusting in the grace to love,