Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, heartfelt compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness, and patience, bearing with one another and forgiving one another, if one has a grievance against another; as the Lord has forgiven you, so must you also do. And over all these put on love, that is, the bond of perfection. And let the peace of Christ control your hearts, the peace into which you were also called in one body. And be thankful.
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, as in all wisdom you teach and admonish one another, singing psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Colossians 3:12-17)
But you, remain faithful to what you have learned and believed, because you know from whom you learned it, and that from infancy you have known (the) sacred scriptures, which are capable of giving you wisdom for salvation through faith in Christ Jesus. All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work. (2 Timothy 3:14-17)
his is the sixth and final article on what it means to be transformed by clothing ourselves with Christ. In this article, we will look more closely at how to “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly” (Colossians 3:16).
If we want to be transformed into the image and likeness of Christ, we need to put on the garment of salvation that we were given at baptism — and we need to put on the outward virtues that Paul speaks about. Together these clothes make for an attractive outfit.
But two questions remain: How do we let this baptismal “garment of salvation” keep changing us? And, where can we find the courage to keep putting on the virtues of God every day? Paul says that one way we can do both is by immersing ourselves in Scripture. Scripture inspires us; it moves us to love God; it brings us understanding; and it guides us.
This is why Jesus wants us to be filled with the word, saturated in it, soaking it up every day. He wants us reading it and studying it along with good commentaries, even memorizing it. How will we know that the word of God is dwelling in us? By the way our hearts burn with love and hope when we hear Scripture proclaimed at Mass. By the way it helps us wake up each morning, so that through them we hear God’s voice and are empowered to put on the virtues of God. By the way it moves us to try to be united with each other — just as Jesus and his Father are one (John 17:21).
If we clothe ourselves with his garment of salvation and if we try to apply the godly virtues (that Paul described) in every situation, our light will shine and we will become more and more like Jesus. We live in a divided world, but Jesus wants us to be his ambassadors of love and unity. With his help, we can do it.
After Paul told the Colossians to let God’s Word dwell in their hearts, he gave them one last key to being transformed: “Be thankful.” Then, he told them to sing “psalms, hymns, and spiritual songs with gratitude” in their hearts. Then in the next verse, he said: “Whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17).
Three times in a row! Do you think he wanted to make a point? Let’s make it a point ourselves to thank Jesus every day for the way his cross and resurrection have clothed us in him with the garment of salvation. Let’s thank him for the Word of God that trains us in righteousness and equips us for “every good work” (2 Timothy 3:17). Finally, let’s believe if we ask him, he will give us the grace to be transformed into his image and likeness — so we can “model” his fine clothing each day.
(This article is an adaptation of parts of the article, “Over All These Things, Put On Love” in the May 2008 issue of The Word Among Us devotional magazine. Used with permission. Joe Difato is the publisher of The Word Among Us.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion by Catholic Men
- At the beginning of the article, two questions are posed: “How do we let this baptismal ‘garment of salvation’ keep changing us? And, where can we find the courage to keep putting on the virtues of God every day?” How would you answer these questions?
- In the Scripture passages above from Colossians and 2 Timothy, Paul answers these questions by saying that we should immerse ourselves in Scripture. How well are you doing in immersing yourself in Scripture each day?
- What steps can you take to increase this “immersion” in the Scriptures? For example, have you considered committing to reading and reflecting on the Scriptures from Mass each day?
- In 2 Timothy 3:16-17, we hear these words: “All scripture is inspired by God and is useful for teaching, for refutation, for correction, and for training in righteousness, so that one who belongs to God may be competent, equipped for every good work.” What do these words mean to you? How have you experienced the truth of these words in your own life? Give some specific examples. (Note: The Word Among Us meditation for Sunday, July 13, 2008 provides excellent suggestions on how to allow the power of Scripture to transform us. This meditation is available on the National Fellowship of Catholic Men website home page at http://www.catholicmensresources.org/.)
- The article ends with the importance of being thankful and in believing that if we ask the Lord, he will give us the grace we need to be transformed. Why are these so key to our transformation into Christ’s image and likeness?