In today’s second Mass reading, St. Paul writes to the Philippians that he has “been taken possession of by Christ Jesus,” in the next line writing that he does not consider himself “to have taken possession.”
Although in the context of the passage I’m not sure St. Paul intended what I see when I read those two lines, it struck me reading them that the two lines draw an important distinction. That it, that there is an enormous difference between being taken possession of and taking possession.
I think we too often think of ourselves as the possessors, thinking we possess our faith, our beliefs, and even God. We forget that God is bigger than we are, our words and ways of understanding sometimes making God smaller than God is.
If we understand, instead, that we are the possessed – that we have been taken possession of by Christ, that invites us to greater receptivity, and surrender. A stance of allowing Christ to work through us, rather than thinking we need to force something. I don’t mean that we are to be completely passive, but to understand that the initiator is Christ, not us.
I have not taken possession, but am possessed by Christ.