Dear Friends in Jesus Christ,
I would like to call your attention to what Saint Paul says in the second rading: “From now on, let no one make troubles for me for I bear the marks of Jesus on my body.” —Galatians 6:17. Livestock are branded so that others can tell who owns them. St. Paul bore the brand marks of Jesus on his body, so all could determine that Jesus owned him. Paul’s brand marks were scars and bruises from the beatings, stoning, persecution, shipwreck, snake bites and other sufferings he endured for Jesus. Other saints, like Francis of Assisi and Padre Pio, have borne the stigmata, the wounds of Christ, in their hands and feet. Could someone tell by looking at your body that you belong to Christ? I don’t think we have the marks of persecution on our body. But we are all supposed to bear marks of our daily life. Here are the brand marks of some Christians I know:
- circles under the eyes denoting lack of sleep in parents who had more children in loving obedience to the Lord,
- extra pounds on a parent who, in selflessly caring for children, couldn’t find time to work out,
- marked loss of weight during Lent from devoted fasting,
- radiant smiles and glowing faces stemming from overflowing joy in being owned by Jesus in the middle of excruciating pain or chronic illness,
- eyes which reflect a peace that passes all understanding in the midst of incredible personal suffering,
- shaved hair on the heads of males in two families as a sign of empathy to a loved one suffering from cancer, and
- a permanent, skin-white colored “band” on the wrist of a priest who vowed to wear a thick pro-life bracelet until legalized abortion is overturned in the USA.
Be crucified to the world. Be branded for Jesus, and “glorify God in your body” (1 Cor. 6:20). We all should have scars of love in our body which is the brand mark of Christ. And those marks of love, is our holiness. We achieve holiness not by doing some extraordinary things but by doing our ordinary things with extraordinary love. We are called to be holy doing our daily works and living our ordinary lives. We need people who are holy and branded for Christ in this age.
I remember what Pope Francis said to young people once:
- We need saints without veil or cassock or Roman collar.
- We need saints who wear jeans and sneakers.
- We need saints who go to the movies, listen to music and hang out with friends.
- We need saints who put God in first place, but who let go of their power.
- We need saints who have time everyday to pray and who know how to date in purity and chastity, or who consecrate their chastity.
- We need modern saints, Saints of the 21st century with a spirituality that is part of our time.
- We need saints committed to the poor and the necessary social changes.
- We need saints who live, are sanctified, and are not afraid to live in the world.
- We need saints who drink Coke and eat hot dogs, who wear jeans, who are Internet-savvy, who listen to iPods and CDs.
- We need saints who passionately love the Eucharist and who are not ashamed to drink a beer or eat pizza on weekends with friends.
- We need saints who like movies, the theater, music, dance, sports.
- We need saints who are social, open, normal, friendly, and happy and who are good companions.
- We need saints who are in the world and know how to taste the pure and good things of the world but who aren’t of the world.
Let us be proud of being what we are a father or mother, husband or wife, brother or sister, grandfather or grandmother, son or daughter. Whatever it is, let is try to achieve holiness by bearing scars of love in our body. That is the brand mark of Christ on your body.
God Bless You,