St. Paul wrote to the Colossians:
I am a minister of the Body of Christ…to bring to completion for you the word of God. (1:25)
To bring the word of God to completion for you.
Now, in this letter, it seems that St. Paul was addressing a largely non-Jewish audience. In other words, a confused and deluded, formerly pagan audience. At the beginning of the letter, the Apostle gave them a vivid image by which they can understand reality. To summarize:
The Creator made all things through His eternal Word, Who is now made man, Jesus. Jesus gives the universe and history its center. His resurrection began the final fulfillment of God’s original purpose in creating the world. Everything has been made to serve as a kind of choir, giving praise to the eternal glory of the Maker. Christ sings the first voice of the choir, by the entirety of His life. All the rest of the music proceeds from Him, as we strive to harmonize.
St. Paul went on to explain how, for centuries, the true purposes of the Creator lay hidden. Thus the pagan peoples of the world chased after empty shadows, seeking fulfillment in selfish pursuits, hardly even realizing that they acted in open rebellion against the peaceful and loving will of the Almighty One Who made them.
Because, until the Incarnation of the divine Son, the full truth about the Creator could not be known. Yes, within the deepest heart of man, the rule of justice and honesty has always asserted itself. This internal law commands us, as it were, to live in a way that does not offend the One who made us and guides our lives.
But our human ignorance of God runs almost as deep as this law of honesty and truth runs in us. And our capacity to justify ourselves in selfishness overwhelms our minds.
This is the state of paganism into which all of us are naturally born. We do not know God; we do not know how to serve Him; we do not know the meaning of life, the goal, the purpose. God Himself must teach us these things.
And He does. It is Christ, His Son. That is the fundamental truth that St. Paul wrote to remind the Colossians about.
The world exists why? For Christ. History moves; one day passes into another—why? To build up the Body of Christ. When everything is said and done, and history ends, and we don’t need to buy any more new calendars or get new registration stickers for our license plates anymore, who will be standing then?
Christ. Head and members. Singing the praises of the eternal glory, with light unfathomably beautiful illuminating His face.
So this is the Word of God, fully spoken: Jesus Christ. To believe with St. Paul, to believe with the holy ones throughout the ages, we put our faith in this definitive Word. We believe in Christ. Which means we believe in the Trinity and the Incarnation, as we profess solemnly every week by standing and mumbling our way through the Creed.
But: I do not think that we have finished understanding what St. Paul has written in Colossians 1:25. Paul wrote that, through his ministry of the Body of Christ, he brings to completion for you the word of God. Brings it to completion.
We believe in Jesus Christ, and by doing so—by believing—we please the Father. But Christ Himself has not and does not please the Father by making an act of faith of His own. To the contrary, what we believe about Christ is this: Christ pleases the Father by His offering of Himself. Jesus Christ offers Himself, whole and entire, as a sacrifice.
In other words, Christ did not reveal the mystery hidden from all ages by saying aloud: “I believe in the heavenly Father.” He revealed the mystery of divine love by dying—dying in perfect innocence on the agonizing cross. The reconciliation of God and man occurred not by Christ’s act of faith, but by Christ’s submission, by His obedience, by His willingness to let His blood be shed.
So I think the only conclusion we can really come to is this: I, and all the other duly appointed ministers of Christ’s Body—we bring the word of God to completion for you, like St. Paul did, by celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass with you. Let me explain.
First we believe. Then we offer ourselves with Christ to the Father. We take our part in the great choir of Christ right here and now, around this holy altar. We kneel in adoration before the full revelation of God’s love, and we give ourselves over to the unfolding of His will. The completion of the word of God, to which St. Paul referred: it can mean nothing other than our putting our entire lives—our lives 24/7, 365.25 days per year—putting it all on this altar with the Body of Christ.
Then everything gets fulfilled. Then we live as personal wedding chambers, wedding chambers for the connubial bliss of God and man. When we offer ourselves on this altar with Christ’s Body and Blood, the Omnipotent triune Love sings His own beautiful canticle to Himself, and we sing it, too. It is one song, both human and divine. It is God’s song and ours, inseparably harmonized. It is the song of a life lived as a servant of God.
May we sing this song of a holy life, together with Christ, together with God. It is the most beautiful song ever, and it lasts longer even than “In a Gadda da Vida,” by Iron Butterfly. The song of Christ and His Christians will last forever and never grow boring.