Ambassadors for Christ

By | March 11, 2010

The Book of Joshua is named for the man God chose to succeed Moses. Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, like an ordination, passing on his God-given authority. Joshua was commissioned by God to lead the Israelites into the promised land of Canaan after their wandering in the desert. In today’s reading we witness God now providing for the Israelites from the “produce of the land in the form of unleavened cakes and parched grain” and no longer from the mysterious manna from heaven. God has shown himself to be faithful to his promises and worthy of trust, yet again.

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Fr. Mark Vander Steeg

His greatest promise was to provide a path of reunion to himself for the purpose of our salvation. This is accomplished in Christ of whom St. Paul writes, “for our sake he made him to be sin who did not know sin, so that we might become the righteousness of God in him.” St. Paul describes how in Christ reconciliation has been achieved by God taking upon himself sin and death through Christ’s crucifixion and destroying it forever through his resurrection. Now we who are joined to Christ through baptism are “a new creation.” This is especially true through confession.

We can echo Paul and say in faith “the old things have passed away, behold new thing have come.” This truth brings peace to anxious hearts who may be embarrassed. A new eternal day dawns for those who begin again in Christ. They have nothing to fear, not even death. This freeing good news is meant to be shared with others. As Paul writes, “we are ambassadors for Christ, as if God were appealing through us.”

As ambassadors, God has invited us to work alongside him. We stand with the Father in Luke’s Gospel, looking out into the distance expectantly waiting for the prodigal son to come home. The parable challenges us not to be the jealous brother but rather one who delights in knowing that the Father’s heart is gladdened by the return. You and I who are freed in Christ just want others to know the Father’s love, even if these persons become far greater saints than you or I may ever become.

The Christian’s view into the world is thus one of hope, daring to hope that all return and be saved. When we see them returning, it is then that we call upon a faith that believes in what God has called this person to be, rather than dismissing them as lost “tax collectors and sinners.” Lastly, it takes the action of love imaged in the embrace of the Father, to help make what is first seen through hope and faith a living reality. Through love we become co-workers with God in his work of grace bringing forward his image in all those who return. Imagine hearing at the end of life God say to us, “My son, you are here with me always; everything I have is yours.”

Questions for Reflection

1. Am I comfortable being an ambassador for Christ?

2. Do I view all others through the eyes of hope and not dismiss them as lost?

3. What greater love can I show to help the work of God?

 

Fr. Vander Steeg is pastor of St. Mary Parish, Greenville, and St. Edward Parish, Mackville.

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