February 10, 2007


Today in the Office of Readings, Paul's discussion of his stigmata comes around, and thus we have the Scriptural basis for the spiritual reality that was so real for Francis:

Henceforth let no man trouble me; for I bear on my body the marks of Jesus.

"Marks of Jesus" is stigmata tou Iesou.

Stigmata in Greek has the general sense of a mark, but the more technical sense of a branding mark. Thus Paul is marked as the property of, as dedicated to Jesus Christ. He is the slave of Christ, as he so often puts it. This stands in contrast to the circumcision party he was arguing with in Galatia: we ought not to seek the marks of human custom and approval, but the brand marks of Jesus Christ, those that come to us through his service.

For, me, I'm going to recall this when I am hearing this Sunday's Gospel of Luke's Beatitudes and Woes: Woe to you, when all speak well of you, for so their ancestors did the same to the false prophets.

The marks of worldly, human approval are useless. The brand marks, the limitations and sufferings we earn through the service of God in Christ, they alone count for something.

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