On Being Controlled by Christ’s Love

Homily offered by Father Matthew C. Dallman, Obl.S.B., for the Parish of Tazewell County on the Fourth Sunday after Pentecost, 2021

Saint Paul teaches us today that the love of Christ controls us. And goes on to add: because we are convinced that one has died for all. In teaching us this today, Saint Paul gives us more food for our reflection on what it means to be led by the Spirit of God, our theme for the season after Pentecost and Trinity. The love of Christ controls us—or, put another way, Christ’s love is our control. Christ’s love is our norm—is the norm. Christ’s love is the measuring stick by which we measure all of reality, and all of who are are, and how we conduct ourselves in the world. Christ’s love is the pattern of being, the model of existence. The love of Christ—Christ’s love, His outpouring of Himself, His Sacrifice—controls us.

And His love controls us because we are convinced that one has died for all. It is not only that we are convinced that Christ died; we are even more convinced that Christ died for all. He gave Himself up for all, for the sins of all, giving Himself up for all persons, on behalf of all persons. On the Cross Jesus held all the sins of humanity on His holy shoulder. On the Cross Jesus held all the sins of humanity in His most holy Heart. By taking on Himself all our sins, He took upon Himself all separation that is between us and God, for sin means separation, and because of sin our relationship with God is distorted. On the Cross and through the Cross, through His Passion, Crucifixion, and Death, Jesus held in His most Holy Heart our relationship with God, distorted by sin, and as He offered Himself up to the Father on our behalf, He offered up for us our relationship with God.

And because Jesus is the perfect offering for our sins, and not for ours only, but for the sins of the whole world, God accepted Christ’s offering on our behalf, His vicarious offering of our relationship with God was accepted by God through Christ; and in accepting the offering of the Son, God took our distorted relationship with God, transformed it, and gave it back to us, restored, transformed and made permanently holy through Christ. Just as God take the bread offered at the Altar into Himself, transforms it into His Son, and gives it back to us transformed and holy, God takes our sinful relationship with Him into Himself through Jesus, and gives it back to us transformed—that we might live no longer for ourselves but for Him who for our sake died and was raised.

Brothers and sisters, when we live with this fact—the fact of Christ’s offering of Himself for us—this fact becomes what controls our life; this fact becomes that which our life is ordered around. The love of Christ controls us, which is another way of saying that we have in remembrance Christ’s blessed Passion and precious Death; His mighty Resurrection and glorious Ascension. When we live within the fact of Christ’s love for us—an unfathomable love for us, having given His life for us—we are truly in Christ, and we are a new creation. Living with and within the great mystery of this all—living with it, recognizing it, reflecting upon it, making it a fundamental part of our daily thoughts: as we allow the love of Christ to control us, we become by grace a new creation, because in Christ we live and move and have our being.