“Be Imitators of Me as I Am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1)

by Edmond Lo
Thirtieth Sunday in Ordinary Time

Exodus 22:20-26

1 Thessalonians 1:5C-10

Matthew 22:34-40

“And you became imitators of us and of the Lord…so that you became a model for all the believers in Macedonia and in Achaia” (1 Thes 1:6-7).

Which is easier? Admitting that we are sinners or setting good examples for others to follow? I would submit to you that the latter is a hundred times more difficult to do.

If a bridge is built to fall, it can be constructed easily since its collapse is expected and its demolition all but inevitable. But if it’s meant to be used to carry heavy traffic safely, then it must be engineered properly, built carefully, and tested rigorously before it can be licensed for public use. Setting good examples for others is like building a good bridge. To be worthy of people’s trust and even imitation, we must make sure “that no fault may be found with our ministry”, lest our flaws, however minuscule, become the reason for those looking up to us to stumble (2 Cor 6:3). Paul is pleased with the Thessalonian church because their good efforts have made them worthy of being “a model” for the believers of the neighboring communities. Expecting no less from himself and the church leaders, he also invites the Thessalonians to become “imitators of us and of the Lord” (1 Thes 1:6).

In all these years of volunteering for the FLL, the blessings that the good Lord has granted me are more than I can count. But if I must pick the most important one, I would say it’s the opportunity to work and associate closely with a good number of true followers of Christ whose determination to live out the Catholic faith in a radical way is unshakable. For them, St. Paul’s conviction about life - “life is Christ, and death is gain” - is more than just a motto; it’s their only way to live (Phil 1:21).

If my Christian values and my way of life as a serious follower of Christ are causing me to feel increasingly marginalized and isolated in a world that is getting more and more secularized, relativized (no right or wrong), and is in danger of drifting further and further away from God, here in the community of FLL I find support and fellowship that make me feel perfectly at home. It’s a community of good Catholics who come together not for their own sake but for the sake of helping others; a community that bonds as one not because they feel the need to recoil, but because they want to reach out.

It’s also a community that is not afraid to profess to be “the aroma of Christ” (2 Cor 2:15). Like St. Paul, they do not retreat and hide; they stand up and make public their ambition: “Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ” (1 Cor 11:1). True to Jesus’ teaching, they aspire to be the salt of the earth and the light of the world; they invite people to their home base to “come and see” (Jn 1:39). By exercising their special calling to evangelize, their desire is to offer up their bodies – their whole lives! – “as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God” (Rom 12:1). Their wish is to be transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into a pleasing fragrance that brings life, a sweet smell that elicits hope, a comforting breath that speaks the language of love. The sensation is unmistakable; the charisma irresistible. In them I sense holiness, and holiness attracts.