“We are ambassadors for Christ.”
For today’s optional memorial honoring the Capuchin Franciscan St. Lawrence of Brindisi, the Mass on EWTN used 2 Cor 5:14-20 for its reading. Falling under the heading of “The Ministry of Reconciliation” the focus of this passage is how Christ’s death reconciled the entire world to Himself.
Particularly striking to me today in hearing this proclamation was the words in the headline. It got me thinking: What does it mean to be an ambassador, anyway?
Merriam-Webster primarily defines ambassador this way:
: an official envoy; especially : a diplomatic agent of the highest rank accredited to a foreign government or sovereign as the resident representative of his or her own government or sovereign or appointed for a special and often temporary diplomatic assignment
Wow. To be in Christ means to be an official envoy of the highest rank on His behalf. What an extraordinary responsibility! This is certainly a special assignment and most definitely temporary. But when this brief stint is completed, and we meet the Lord face to face, will we be able to say we fulfilled this duty with honor? That is, did we represent our sovereign well, particularly in his “entrusting to us the message of reconciliation” (v. 19) that is the diplomatic assignment given to all of us who are His “new creation” (v. 17)?
I have remarked often how, following the Lord’s Prayer in Matthew, Jesus emphasizes one part of that prayer (“forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors” — Mt 6:12) by doubling down on it immediately afterward (“If you forgive others their transgressions, your heavenly Father will forgive you. But if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your transgressions.” — vv. 14-15). This message of reconciliation has to be lived personally in order to convey it to others. A difficult challenge to say the least. Yet we must do this so that we can confidently — and with personal conviction sprouting from living the message ourselves — proclaim the good news that Christ has reconciled us to God, urge everyone to accept this message, and then live it by extending that same forgiveness and reconciliation to each other.
A better reading could not have been chosen for this day. St. Lawrence, in the wake of the Reformation, learned many languages and preached thousands of sermons throughout central Europe, campaigned against the Turks, and was noted for his diplomatic skills. He was eventually named a doctor of the Church (one of only 35 to date). A true ambassador for Christ and His vicar, the message of reconciliation he conveyed surely was not lost on his hearers. A model for us in our “diplomatic relations” no matter how large or small.
St. Lawrence of Brindisi, pray for us.