For I am not ashamed of the gospel. It is the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes: for Jew first, and then Greek. For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, “The one who is righteous by faith will live.” The wrath of God is indeed being revealed from heaven against every impiety and wickedness of those who suppress the truth by their wickedness (Romans 1:15-18).
Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly: immorality, impurity, passion, evil desire, and the greed that is idolatry. Because of these the wrath of God is coming upon the disobedient. By these you too once conducted yourselves, when you lived in that way. But now you must put them all away anger, fury, malice, slander, and obscene language out of your mouths. Stop lying to one another, since you have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its creator (Colossians 3:5-10).
For those he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, so that he might be the firstborn among many brothers (Romans 8:29).
Do not conform yourselves to this age but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and pleasing and perfect (Romans 12:2).
The first man was from the earth, earthly; the second man, from heaven. As was the earthly one, so also are the earthly, and as is the heavenly one, so also are the heavenly. Just as we have borne the image of the earthly one, we shall also bear the imageof the heavenly one (1 Corinthians 15:47-49).
All of us, gazing with unveiled face on the glory of the Lord, are being transformed into the same image from glory to glory, as from the Lord who is the Spirit (2 Corinthians 3:18).
The previous article described our call as Catholic men to be disciples of Jesus Christ. This article, in many ways, is a continuation of that article, since as disciples we are also called to live transformed lives. This call, however, is a daunting one, especially when we are painfully aware of our own weaknesses and sins. In Romans 1:18 and Colossians 3:5-10, St. Paul lists the kinds of vices and sins that will face God’s wrath: wickedness and impiety; suppression of truth; immoral choices, disordered passions and desires; etc. Although he used these words to describe the world in the first century A.D., Paul could just as easily have been writing about the world today. In fact, he could just as easily have been writing about the darkest recesses of our own fallen natures.
This is quite a damning list, but what can we do about it? How can we possibly change our hearts and be transformed into the “image” of Jesus, described so eloquently in the Scriptures above? How can we convince someone else to embrace the Lord, so that they can turn away from sin, when we ourselves struggle to do so? We may even begin to have doubts about whether we will ever be able to fulfill Paul’s admonition to “Put to death, then, the parts of you that are earthly” (Colossians 3:5).
The good news is that human logic or human power or human discipline are not enough to change ourselves or our world—we need God’s power! The gospel tells the entire world the story of a God who loves each of us so much he pursues us relentlessly, even to the point of giving up his own Son for our sins. As Paul wrote, this gospel message really is “the power of God for the salvation of everyone who believes” (Romans 1:16)!
Look at your own life. What events have had a spiritual impact on you? What has caused you to renew your faith or take another step closer to the Lord and another step toward overcoming a persistent sin? Maybe you heard a stirring homily at Mass. Maybe you were struck by someone’s deep faith. Maybe it was a Scripture passage or a book you read. Maybe it was the graces you received from the Sacrament of Reconciliation. Whatever it was, at the heart, it was the relentless call of God that changed you. People can be persuaded by reason, or they can be swayed by emotional argument; but only the Holy Spirit can bring about deep and lasting transformation in the human heart.
That’s good news! And in spite of any current weaknesses that linger on in our flesh, we must still preach the gospel by our lives—we can even use words if we have to. We are like the megaphone God uses to amplify his call to each person. But in the end, our witness is meant to point people to Jesus. He is the one who is transforming us, and he is the one who will penetrate a person’s conscience and transform their lives as well.
“Lord Jesus, I thank you, that through the power of your Holy Spirit, you are transforming me more and more into your image. I am not ashamed of the gospel! It is the power of God for salvation. I believe you have called me to share your life in me with others. Lord, may my actions and words amplify that call to everyone I meet!”
Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing me to adapt meditations in their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission.
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- Take some time to meditate and reflect on the Scriptures at the beginning of the article. What do you think God is trying to reveal to you through them?
- The article begins with these words: “The call to live a transformed life as Catholic Men is a daunting one.” This is easy to see when we look at the kinds of vices and sins, listed in Romans 1:18 and Colossians 3:5-10, that will face God’s wrath. Why is this call a “daunting one” for you?
- The article goes on to say that “The good news is that human logic or human power or human discipline are not enough to change ourselves or our world—we need God’s power!” Why is this good news for you?
- How would you answer these questions from the article: “What events have had a spiritual impact on you? What has caused you to renew your faith, or take another step closer to the Lord and another step toward overcoming a persistent sin?”
- The article ends with these words: “And in spite of any current weaknesses that linger on in our flesh, we must still preach the gospel by our lives—we can even use words if we have to. We are like the megaphone God uses to amplify his call to each person. But in the end, our witness is meant to point people to Jesus. He is the one who is transforming us, and he is the one who will penetrate their conscience and transform their lives as well.” What obstacles are there in your life that keep you from being a better witness to Jesus through your life and your words? What steps can you take to overcome them? What do you expect to happen as you take these steps?
- Take some time now to pray and ask the Lord for the grace you need to live a transformed life and be a witness to others for Jesus Christ. Use the prayer at the end of the article as the starting point.