True Communication Needs Twofold Fidelity

Monday Musing with St. Paul, Communicator for Christ

“For in him [Christ] every one of God’s promises is a ‘Yes.’ For this reason it is through him that we say the ‘Amen,’ to the glory of God. But it is God who establishes us with you in Christ…  In Christ we speak as persons of sincerity, as persons sent from God and standing in his presence.” (2 Cor. 1:20-21, 2:17)

 

Together, these two quotations highlight the twofold fidelity that a true communicator for Christ must have. This twofold fidelity is the second Pauline characteristic of communication that I found in St. Paul’s Second Letter to the Corinthians.

 

In the passage above, St. Paul is trying to explain his recent decisions, so that the Corinthians won’t think that he is undependable. (Biblical scholars guess that Paul may have been accused of being “changeable,” in doing what was best for him, rather than for the Corinthians.) In trying to share his motivations for his decisions, Paul offers us a wonderful image of Christ: Jesus is God’s “Yes” to humanity. A “yes” that is sure and reliable; a “yes” that means God is on our side; a “yes” that means that we can put our trust entirely in God in Christ.

 

To Be the “Yes” of Christ to Each Other

Because Paul is fully aware that he has been sent in the name of Jesus, to be an extension of Jesus’ mission in the world, he takes this image a step further. He affirms that, in and through Christ, Paul himself is to represent that “yes” of Christ to the Corinthians–and the Corinthians are to be the “yes” of Christ to each other and to Paul (cf. 2 Cor. 1:20-22).

 

Christ’s fidelity to us–taking on our human nature, laying down his life for us so that we may have the fullness of life–is an essential part of his communication with us. We are called to be faithful to those with whom we are communicating, to want what is best for them, even at great cost to ourselves.

 

To Be Christ’s Resounding “Yes” to the World

As communicators of Christ, we are called to be Christ’s resounding “Yes” to the world. The challenge of our call is to convincingly communicate the truth that every person is loved by God and that in accepting God’s loving embrace, every person can be saved. To be true communicators of this truth, this Gospel message, we must also be faithful to the Gospel message: to the love that God offers to every person, to the Truth that will set every person free. Even when it is difficult to hear or painful to communicate, we are called to communicate the truth of the Gospel, the Truth that is Jesus Christ. Even at the risk of rejection or persecution.

 

The image that comes to mind is a bridge that touches both sides of the water. God wants us to be bridges of his saving love, showing humanity the way to draw closer to God, while at the same time giving God a humble way to approach those who refuse to come to him. This humble way is our person, our words, our witness. But a bridge is useless unless it is touching the shore on both sides–thus, a twofold fidelity.

 

Our Twofold Fidelity Makes Us More Creative and Pastoral

As Daughters of St. Paul called to communicate Christ to the world, we often speak of this twofold fidelity: fidelity to the Gospel (to God), and fidelity to the person with whom we seek to share the Gospel. Seeking to live this twofold fidelity can sometimes be difficult, but in my experience, it encourages us to be more creative communicators. Because our fidelity forces us to struggle with the “hard sayings” of the Gospel or the counter-cultural teachings of the Church, ultimately it moves us to engage more deeply, to be more “in tune” with the Gospel, so that we share it with conviction. Yet, if what we communicate will be hard for others to receive, we can open our hearts to listen to the deeper needs of our people, and become more creative and pastoral in the way we share the Word of God with them.

 

One of my favorite biblical examples of fidelity is Moses. Moses is absolutely faithful to the God who leads the Chosen People out of slavery. Yet, Moses takes turns pleading with both: first with the people to be faithful in the tests that God sends them (cf. Ex. 17, 19), and then with God to be faithful to himself and fulfill his promises to the unfaithful people who have rejected him so many times (cf. Ex. 33–34; Numbers 14:10-25).

 

Of course the ultimate model for us is Jesus the Good Shepherd, whose twofold fidelity–to the Father and to the humanity that the Blessed Trinity loves into existence–leads him to lay down his life, so that communion between the Father and us becomes possible.


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