Christ Lives in Me
Fr. Luke A. Veronis
Do you know who Billy Gibbons is? The lead singer for the rock-n-roll band ZZ Top? Well, a few years ago, he was playing in Webster at a summer concert hall on the Lake, and he happened to come by and eat some Greek food at our annual Festival. For me, I knew ZZ Top from when I was younger, but I wouldn’t have even recognized Billy Gibbons. I found it quite interesting, however, to see how so many people in my generation reacted to having a celebrity come to our Church. For my generation, word quickly spread under the tent about Billy Gibbons and ZZ Top. People wanted to meet him and to take a picture with him. Others posted pictures of him on facebook to let the world know that we had some famous celebrity visit our Church festival. A few people were even disappointed when the security guards told us that he didn’t want to be disturbed, yet they still seemed happy that a celebrity was in our midst.
We are such a celebrity society, thinking that it’s something special or big to take a picture with a so-called famous person. This whole experience made me think about why people get so excited and how people react around “famous” people, around celebrities.
I kept thinking to myself, imagine if someone real famous and important came by! Imagine if Jesus Christ came to visit, and to even stay with us. Remember the story when Jesus saw the tax-collector Zaccheus up in a tree, and he said, “Come down, for I will visit your house today.” How did Zaccheus react? He was so excited to have a “celebrity” visit his home. Yet, what did he do?
He was so touched by Christ’s visit that he decided to change his entire life. He said that he would repay anyone from whom he stole money, and that he would even give half of his money to the poor. Now that’s a serious response to a celebrity visit!
Well, in today’s epistle reading from the Apostle Paul, we hear something enlightening. St Paul talks about himself and says, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.” (Gal 1:20)
Listen to that again, “It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
Paul is saying that Jesus Christ lives IN him. This is not a visit of Jesus to someone’s house, like that of Zaccheus, but this is Christ moving in, staying, and living in St. Paul. That’s something much better than a celebrity visit. Imagine, the ultimate celebrity, Jesus Christ, living in us.
What would we do if we truly believed that Jesus Christ was coming to move in and live in us? How would we feel? How would we act?
Well, St. Paul teaches us a basic principle of our Christian faith. When each of us was baptized, we were united with Jesus Christ. “As many as have been baptized into Christ, have put on Christ.”
Through the sacred mystery of baptism, we can be sure that we have Jesus is living in us. And not only through baptism, but each Sunday we gather in the Church to worship, once again we are united to Jesus Christ through the mystery of Holy Communion. Jesus promised, “Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood abide in me, and I in them.” (John 6:56)
I think so often we ignore, or forget, this incredible reality! Jesus Christ lives in us!
If this is true, then we have to understand and acknowledge this blessing. We need to ask ourselves, “If Jesus Christ truly lives in me, how should we live? How will His presence in my life actually change how I live?”
I think our lives will change in three ways IF we truly believe that Christ lives in us.
First, knowing that Jesus has chosen to live in ME, in US means we must be very special. One of my favorite verses in the entire Bible is when God says, “I have created you in the palm of my hands.” We are so precious to God precisely because He created us with such care and love. We are created out of love. God knows us and loves us in the most intimate way. When we know we are loved, then we can live life feeling good about ourselves, feeling cherished, feeling special, feeling honored. Christ has chosen to live in ME and YOU, thus we are truly special!
Second, knowing that Christ lives in us should make us want to make Him proud of us. Imagine if so someone special comes to visit us in our homes. Don’t we want this guest to think of us in the best possible light? Don’t we want them to know they made a good choice by visiting our home? We want to make the person feel proud! How do we do that? By imitating Christ and His actions – by loving our enemies, forgiving those who have hurt us, showing compassion everyone, especially those considered the least of my brothers and sisters, by basically continuing the life of Christ. We make our guest proud when people look at us and see Jesus in us!
Finally, having Christ in us is something we can’t keep to ourselves. We want to tell everyone about it and encourage them to invite Christ to live in them. We can’t keep silent, and we can’t keep His blessings to ourselves. A fundamental element of our faith is that God blesses us SO THAT we can share those blessings with others. Christ living in us is NOT for us alone. Christ lives in us so that we can share the presence of Christ with others and help them invite Christ into their lives.
“It is no longer I who live, but Christ who lives in me.”
O Christ our God, come anew and dwell in us. Make our hearts and lives a place where You will abide each and every day. Help us to always remember that we are your beloved children, and that no matter what the world tells us, we know we are loved by you. Help us to become more and more like you, so that whenever anyone sees us, they will see YOU in us. And may we never be silent of this special blessing, but may we always strive to accept your blessings so that we may share them with others. Come, O Lord, and be formed in us! Amen.