It is very difficult to be firm with another person to say nothing being firm with one’s own self. In a culture awash in the rollercoaster ride of emotions and relativism, there’s no support for it. Often, going with the flow is the easiest and calmest way out. There was a cartoon I saw once of two men standing in hell, talking no doubt about how they wound up there. One says to other, “I just went with the flow. I had no idea it wound end up here.”

Yet, this is Paul’s concluding advice, “Stand firm in the Lord.” He’s been writing about models and conformity to Christ’s glorified body. I seem to remember some other place where we are to conform ourselves to the cross. Just exactly what does that mean? Conformity to the glorified body of Christ, just what is this? Further, He will do it for us.

Because this text is coupled with the gospel story of the transfiguration, where apostles experienced the dazzling white of Jesus’ clothes, it seems as if the emphasis is not on the dramatic change of clothes, but that Jesus is conversing with Moses and the Prophet Elijah, figuratively the law and the prophets. This makes us ask: Am I in conversation with the law and the prophets? After all this is the appearance of the conformity to this glorified body.

Prayer is this conversation, just as is a homily, which to me is a dialogue about love, there being no other more worthwhile conversation. Conformity in this dialogue leads to the capacity to stand firm in one’s heavenly citizenship. Yet, this is not about the individual, as Paul is actually writing in the plural, but about the formation of the community of faith, all of us together.

Alan Hartway

Theological Studies at Catholic Theological Union, Chicago IL; Master of Fine Arts, Poetics, at Naropa University, Boulder CO 1996; Master of Arts, Greek Classics, University of Colorado, Boulder CO 2012; Taught at Naropa University from 1999 through 2015; Chair of Interdisciplinary Studies from 2007-2015; Member of the Missionaries of the Precious Blood, Kansas City Province since 1974; Pastor at Guardian Angel Catholic Church, Mead, CO, ministry from 2007-2020 Currently Retired

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