The Alpha and the Omega

Jesus said: "I am the Alpha and the Omega, the first and the last, the beginning and the end." (Revelations 22:13) In Him, all existence finds its origin, purpose, and destiny.

The origin of all creation is contained in the Person of Jesus Christ. "For in Him were created all things in heaven and on earth, the visible and the invisible... and in Him all things hold together." (Colossians 1.16-17) In His Person are contained at once the fullness of God and the fullness of humanity, "for in Him all the fullness was pleased to dwell." (Colossians 1.19)

St. Paul uses the Body of Christ as the model of unity for the people of God. He urges us to live "with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another through love, striving to preserve the unity of the spirit through the bond of peace: one body and one Spirit, as you were also called to the one hope of your call; one Lord, one faith, one baptism; one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all." (Ephesians 4:2-6) In striving to live humbly with love, in union with one another, we are taking steps towards our destiny in Christ. "Living the truth in love, we should grow in every way into Him who is the head, Christ." (Ephesians 4.15)

To live for Christ and for the other is to no longer live for self. In the new creation, the individual is emptied of self for the sake of the salvation of the whole body of Christ. "So whoever is in Christ is a new creation: the old things have passed away; behold, new things have come." (2 Corinthians 5.17) The loss of self is not a loss of meaning; paradoxically, Jesus said: "Whoever loses his life for My sake will find it." (Matthew 16.25) and "I came so that they might have life and have it more abundantly." (John 10.10) In fact, the little we surrender cannot even be compared to the abundance of grace we receive in the merciful love of Jesus Christ: "From his fullness have we all received, grace upon grace." (John 1.16)

His grace is a gift we receive out of love; it is not a reward we are paid for anything we may have done: "For by grace you have been saved through faith, and this is not from you; it is the gift of God; it is not from works." (Ephesians 2.8-9) Since we are called to "be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect." (Matthew 5.48) and since Jesus told us that "without Me, you can do nothing" (John 15.5), we have no choice but to rely completely on the grace of Jesus Christ and to leave all notions of spiritual self-assurance behind. In receiving the abundant gift of His grace, we should be compelled to respond to God with gratitude and generosity, serving one another out of love.

Jesus is the archetype of the new person we are called to become, both individually and collectively. Fulfilling His call to become a new creation is the purpose for which we are made. The fullness of human existence in God's love is found in this new creation. St. Paul wrote: "You have taken off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed, for knowledge, in the image of its Creator." (Colossians 3:9-10) It is in Jesus Christ that we are molded into the likeness of God through the creative action of His loving grace in the Holy Spirit. By collaborating with the action of the Holy Spirit, we are moving towards our destiny, which is union with Him and one another in love. To collaborate requires us to be flexible and responsive to the movements of the Holy Spirit in our lives, without resisting the transforming action of His grace in our hearts.

Jesus explained the transformation in this way: "Unless a grain of wheat falls to the ground and dies, it remains just a grain of wheat; but if it dies, it produces much fruit." (John 12.24) In Baptism, the old self, with its emptiness and sin, falls to the ground and dies. The seed of the new self sprouts forth and grows, by the light and nurturing of His grace, bearing an abundance of life and love. Our Baptism is a sharing in the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ: "We were indeed buried with Him through baptism into death, so that, just as Christ was raised from the dead by the glory of the Father, we too might live in newness of life. For if we have grown into union with Him through a death like his, we shall also be united with Him in the resurrection. We know that our old self was crucified with Him, so that our sinful body might be done away with, that we might no longer be in slavery to sin." (Romans 6.4-6)

In the journey from origin to destiny, keeping our purpose ever in mind, we must strive to keep moving forward with perseverance, without losing heart when we stumble. St. Paul asks us to keep a winning attitude: "forgetting what lies behind but straining forward to what lies ahead, I continue my pursuit toward the goal, the prize of God's upward calling, in Christ Jesus." (Philippians 3.13-14) This upward calling is to grow in the image of Christ, leaving the old ways behind, without looking back. St. Paul urges us to "Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the desires of the flesh." (Romans 13.14)

May we always remember that "we are His handiwork, created in Christ Jesus for the good works that God has prepared in advance, that we should live in them." (Ephesians 2.10)


Holy Spirit, transform each soul
Into the image of the Son
That by Your grace, we may be whole
In Him, with whom, we are all one. Amen.



References:

New American Bible - Catholic Edition

Catechism of the Catholic Church, paragraphs 456 - 460

Pope Benedict XVI, Introduction to Christianity,
2004 Ignatius Press, San Francisco, p. 234 - 270


prepared by:

Paul Buis


(c) Paul Buis, 2006