Through Him we have received the grace of apostleship….
Romans is the longest of St. Paul’s letters: that’s one reason why you find it first among all the apostolic letters, immediately following Acts of the Apostles. But Romans is also the most profound of St. Paul’s letters. St. Paul explores for the Romans every important theme of the Gospel. This week—perhaps in an hour of Adoration, or in your prayer corner at home—take your study bible and read the introduction to this great letter of St. Paul.
Given its importance, our First Reading at weekday Mass comes from Romans for the next four weeks. Within today’s passage is a brief phrase that sounds innocent enough, but is full of matter for spiritual reflection. Saint Paul points out to the Romans that they are “called to be holy”. The same, of course, is true of each of us Christians. One could say that the whole of Romans is an unpacking of this call.
The word “called” is used three times in today’s First Reading. Reflect on how these three instances fit together. The first is in the first sentence of Romans, where Paul describes himself as “called to be an Apostle and set apart for the Gospel of God”. The second is where Paul, fulfilling his own calling, describes the Roman Christians as “called to belong to Jesus Christ”. The third is Paul’s concluding phrase in describing those to whom he’s writing: “called to be holy”. We can say that the last phrase describes all Christians, who through baptism begin to “belong to Jesus Christ”: that is, His Mystical Body which is the Church. Within this Church each member has his or her particular role, so that all the members of the body might work together. For Paul, this particular vocation was apostleship. For yourself, pray for an increase of grace today either to discern or to live out this vocation, so that through it you may grow in that holiness which is participation in Jesus Christ.