Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
“Books, baking, Chicago, spirituality, social change.” That is my Instagram bio, 52 carefully curated characters, an attempt at telling the world something meaningful about myself.
If Paul had an Instagram bio, how would he use the 150 character maximum? Perhaps “Tent-maker. Letter-writer. Traveler from Tarsus.” While those things are true, is that really what Paul would say about himself?
If today’s first reading is any indication, the answer is, likely, no. In his 150-word greeting to the Romans, Paul doesn’t list his occupation, hometown, or interests. Instead, he introduces himself as a slave of Christ Jesus, an apostle, set apart for the Gospel. Paul’s sense of self is deeply rooted in his relationship with God.
Is our sense of self tied up in labels? What would it look like if we understood ourselves in the way Paul saw the Romans – in our belongingness to Christ, in our belovedness of God?
—Lauren Hackman-Brooks is a Chaplain in University Ministry at Loyola University Chicago – Health Sciences Division; she serves on the Board of Directors at Bellarmine Jesuit Retreat House and the Advisory Board of Jesuit Connections.
More than ever I find myself in the hands of God. This is what I have wanted all my life from my youth. But now there is a difference; the initiative is entirely with God. It is indeed a profound spiritual experience to know and feel myself so totally in God’s hands.
—Pedro Arrupe, SJ
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