“All this I do for the sake of the gospel, that I too may have a share in it.” 1 Corinthians 9:23
St. Paul says these words to the Corinthians while explaining the motives behind his preaching. Of all the things he says of them it is the passage I shared above that caught my eye. Paul says he does all this so that he might have a share in the Gospel too. What exactly does Paul mean in saying this?
St. Paul is referring to the Gospel as the message of our salvation. It is that message of salvation that has reached all of us as well. It is that message of hope, that Christ is really who He said He was, that three days after His death He rose from the dead, and that you and I can find a new and eternal life in Him. St. Paul is speaking to the Corinthians of having a share in this new life that is promised. The attainment of eternal life is the motivation for St. Paul, it is what directs his choices in preaching the Gospel.
As Catholics and Children of God it is good for us to examine what our motivations have been. Honestly it comes down to where has the message of the Gospel fit into our lives as of late. We look not just to the message but what it contains: hope. In section 1817 of the Catechism it says, “Hope is the theological virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven and eternal life as our happiness, placing our trust in Christ’s promises and relying not on our own strength, but on the help of the grace of the Holy Spirit.” This virtue by which we desire the kingdom of heaven is what St. Paul was living by hoping that he could also have share in the eternal life promised in the gospel he preached.
We should examine often, especially now that Lent is quickly approaching, what it is that we are placing our hope into. Living out the hope of eternal life with Christ is not always an easy thing to do. There are so many distractions and temptations out there for things that might make us happy for a time. We end up learning time and time again that these things don’t provide lasting happiness and fulfillment. Some may never learn that lesson instead they remain stuck in a cycle of searching out material or physical pleasures that will never satisfy the longing in their hearts. The season of Lent is a good time to do an examination of conscience and see where you are with that, however, don’t just limit that to Lent. By our baptisms we are a people of hope, a hope that we should be growing in each day, a hope that shapes who we are and what we choose.
I am reminded of the words of St. Augustine, “You move us to delight in praising You; for You have made us for Yourself, and our hearts are restless until they rest in You.”1)http://www.newadvent.org/fathers/110101.htm Like St. Paul let us live so that we too might have a share in the Gospel that is proclaimed to us and the Gospel we have been given live, a message of hope in an eternal life with God.
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