Saturday of Week 22 of Ordinary Time – First Reading

Commentary on Colossians 1:21-23

This brief reading follows immediately on the triumphant hymn in praise of Christ, head of all creation and head of his body, the Church (see Col 1:15-20).

Having said that Christ had reconciled the whole world to himself and brought peace by his death on the cross, Paul reminds the Colossians that they themselves have experienced the reconciling effect of Christ’s death, and appeals to them to adhere firmly to him as their only mediator with God:

And you who were once estranged and hostile in mind, doing evil deeds, he has now reconciled in his fleshly body through death, so as to present you holy and blameless and irreproachable before him…

Paul rejoices that the Colossians are among those who, once alienated from God by a pagan and sinful life, have now been reconciled and united with him through the death of Jesus. The “fleshly body” is that of his Son. This provides the locus where reconciliation takes place. Into this body the entire human race is effectively gathered. This is beautifully put in the Letter to the Ephesians where it says that Jesus, through his death, broke down the divisions and brought peace and reconciliation between Jews and Gentiles, creating a single new Person (see Eph 2:14). This work has to continue between peoples everywhere. Our world today is riven with divisions.

This state of peace and reconciliation will only continue:

provided that you continue securely established and steadfast in the faith…

They can now stand before God “holy and blameless and irreproachable”, provided they remain true to the foundation of their faith and keep close to the hope engendered by the Gospel message. It is a message that is extended to the whole world and Paul is its servant.

We, too, need to remain faithful to the Gospel message we have received through Christ and his Church. We, too, are called, like Paul, to be its servant and to be agents of peace and reconciliation in every area where we discern harmful divisions between peoples and groups. As the popular song says:

Let there be peace on earth and let it begin with me.

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