Thursday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
June 20, 2019
Today, in Mercy, we continue to read from Paul’s ardent letter to the Corinthians.
Second Corinthians gives us Paul, preaching at his passionate height. Paul loves the Corinthian community. I think the city’s personality was a good bit like his own.
A dynamic cosmopolitan center, Corinth is situated on the southern side of an isthmus between two gulfs. This geography predisposed the site to become an active shipping center, highly populated with merchants and travelers from all over the known world.
An informative article on preachingsource.com quotes Leon Morris, noted New Testament scholar, in describing the city as “intellectually alert, materially prosperous, and morally corrupt.”
This population would present just the kind of challenge to motivate Paul. His intellectual acuity, familiarity with prosperity, and repented moral challenges made him the perfect evangelist for this morally hungry community.
And he is highly successful in giving them the Gospel.
It is after he departs to continue the mission elsewhere that problems arise. New preachers come behind him, distorting the core message of the Cross and Resurrection. In today’s letter, Paul begs his beloved community not too be wooed by this diluted preaching.
Today’s Church is not immune from such dilution. Some preachers bend the Holy Word to fit their own agendas. We have, for example, the errancy of the “prosperity gospel”, the divisiveness of strident tradionalism, and the distortions of a flawed fundamentalism which equates faith with nationalism, ethnic supremacy, and economic domination.
When Paul speaks of loving the Corinthian community with the “jealousy” of God, he fore-echoes Pope Francis in his first Apostolic Exhortation, “Evangelii Gaudium”, (The Joy of the Gospel). Here are a few compelling excerpts for our prayer today as we consider what the Gospel means to us:
- “The Gospel, radiant with the glory of Christ’s cross, constantly invites us to rejoice.”
- “Before all else, the Gospel invites us to respond to the God of love who saves us, to see God in others and to go forth from ourselves to seek the good of others.”
- “On the lips of the catechist the first proclamation must ring out over and over: ‘Jesus Christ loves you; he gave his life to save you; and now he is living at your side every day to enlighten, strengthen and free you.’”
Music: The Gospel – Ryan Stevenson