Second Reading: Colossians 2:12-14

Our Only Need

Popular Translation

12 Since you were buried with Christ when you were baptized, you were also raised with him to a new life. You believe God did this, because he raised Jesus from the dead.

13 You were dead because you sinned and were not part of God’s people. But, God made you alive with Christ and forgave all your sins. 14 God wiped away the legal charges against us that are found in his Law. God took them away and nailed them to the cross!

Literal Translation

11 You were circumcised in HIM with a circumcision not done by (human) hands by putting away the body of the flesh in the circumcision of CHRIST, 12 having been buried in HIM in baptism in which you were also raised together (in HIM) through faith in the working of God, the (One) having raised HIM from the dead. 13 And you, (once) being dead [in] the trespasses and the non-circumcision of your flesh, (God) made you alive with HIM, having (graciously) forgiven all our trespasses. 14 Having wiped away the hand-written (bond) with (its legal) decrees against us, which was (heavily) over us, (God) lifted away it from (our) midst and nailed it to the cross.

What was the place of Christ in the greater scheme of things? The author (Paul or a disciple who wrote in Paul’s name) insisted only Christ mattered. Salvation only came through a relationship with the Risen One.

In his letter to the Colossians, the author faced opponents who preached Christ among a pantheon of spiritual powers (2:18). These opponents also insisted upon circumcision as the means of inclusion into God’s people (2:11). Bible scholars have debated the identity of these opponents. Clearly, they had some connection to Judaism and its Law.

The author answered his opponents by pointing to the cross and drawing some logical conclusions. He first used the analogy of a spiritual circumcision and applied it to the Pascal mystery. Just as circumcision was a sign of inclusion into God’s Chosen People (i.e., the Israelites), the cross was a sign of inclusion into the “New Israel.” Those who rejected life in the flesh (i.e., life in popular culture) and joined themselves to the reality of the cross through baptism became part of this “New Israel.”

Notice the key phrase is “in HIM.” Those who were in Christ (i.e., had a intimate relationship with Christ) experienced the reality of his death on the cross. They would also share in his glorious destiny at the general resurrection. Just as Christ reconciled the world to God with his death, those who died “in HIM” would enjoy that reconciliation with the forgiveness of their sins. How did Christ reconcile the world with its Maker? In his death, Christ fulfilled the Law (“God nailed it to the cross”), so he “lifted away” it obligations.

In the greater scheme of things, we only need Christ. In him, we are reconciled to God, united with God. That should be our primary focus.

What can get in the way of your relationship with Christ? How can you refocus your efforts on Christ?