Today, we continue on the theme of configuring our lives to Christ.
138. To be truly configured to the Master, the centrality of the commandment of love, which he expressly called his own new commandment, must be accepted: “love one another as I love you.” (Jn 15:12). This love, with Jesus’ own measure of complete gift of self, besides being the distinguishing feature of each Christian, cannot but be the characteristic of his Church, disciple-community of Christ, whose witness of fraternal charity will be the first and primary proclamation, “This is how all will know that you are my disciples” (Jn 13:35).
One telling and crucial evaluation, especially from non-members might be: do others identify me, and identify my parish, as being first and mainly about love for others? That identifying marker is laid down as the Last Supper discourse begins (see that John 13 reference above). It’s not a surprise that chapter begins with the Master’s expression of loving service to others. (Cf. John 13:1-15)
Are we meant to be perfect? Not at all. The Aparecida bishops remind us that first, this configuration must be learned. And then we practice it. Practice implies we are engaged in a process we might well get wrong sometimes. So we pick ourselves up, dust ourselves off, apologize to someone perhaps, and we try again.
139. In following Jesus Christ, we learn and practice the beatitudes of the Kingdom, Jesus Christ’s own style of life: his love and filial obedience to the Father, his tender compassion in the face of human suffering, his closeness to the poor and the insignificant, his fidelity to the mission entrusted to him, his servant love to the point of giving his own life. Today we contemplate Jesus Christ as the gospels transmit him to us to so we may know what He did and to discern what we must do in present-day circumstances.
So, we learn the Beatitudes. We watch the example of Jesus closely. How does this translate into our lives now, twenty centuries later? I believe the key here is contemplation.
We should have no blindness on this last point; truly imitating Jesus, and true configuration to the Master includes the way of the cross:
140. Being identified with Jesus Christ means also sharing his fate: “where I am, there also will my servant be” (Jn 12:26). The lot of the Christian is the same as that of the Lord, even to the cross: “Whoever wishes to come after me must deny himself, take up his cross, and follow me” (Mk 8:34). We are encouraged by the testimony of so many missionaries and martyrs of yesterday and today among our peoples who have gone to the point of sharing the cross of Christ and even surrendering their life.
For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.