WELCOME: To the latest email recipients of “First Impressions,” the women retreatants from Immaculate Conception Parish in Durham, N.C.
I have to confess as a preacher I tend to skip over the Sunday second readings. They are almost always taken from the letters the apostles, especially Paul, wrote to the early Christian communities and are among the earliest written proclamations of the good news. But since they lack the narrative characteristics of the Gospels they don’t “grab” listeners the way gospel stories do. So, we preachers tend not to draw on them for our preaching but, for the most part, concentrate on the gospel passage, or a vivid narrative from the first reading, the Hebrew Scriptures. So, in this edition I thought I would focus on our second reading from 1 Corinthians. First some background.
Corinth was the capital of the Roman province Achaia. It was a thriving center of commerce, learning, athletic contests and pagan shrines. It was a city that offered Paul numerous opportunities to preach and teach about Jesus to the sophisticated Corinthians. I Corinthians confirms what we know from our own experience: cultural and political values of a society can influence our ways of living our Christian beliefs. Like the Corinthians our secular values creep into our church life and rip and tear at our unity and holiness. Being a good citizen does not always flow over to our being good Christians. In his two letters to the Corinthians Paul struggles against how divisive the values of the world can be on the believing community.
Our passage today, taken from chapter 10, is from a section of the letter where Paul has commented on food and drink. When Christians were invited to the homes of non-Christians they faced a dilemma: could they eat the food placed before them that had been offered on altars to the pagan gods? Was it permissible to eat meat offered to a god they knew didn’t exist?
Paul’s concern wasn’t
about the “enlightened Christians” who would not have a problem eating the food,
but about the more scrupulous Christians in the community. For Paul the food was
not the issue, but he was concerned about the effects eating it would have on
others. The Corinthian Christians must be sensitive to the scruples of others
and also set an example for their pagan neighbors.
For the past several weeks we have had sequential readings from I Corinthians. During this pandemic some people say that with limited mobility they find they have had a little more time to read and meditate. Today’s passage from comes from a summary section of the letter. If we have not done it before, we might try reading the entire letter in its totality, even in one sitting. When we do we will get an overview of what characterized the Corinthian church, its strengths, flaws and discover the similarities with our own church community and discover how Paul responded to the needs before him. Why not put some time aside to do that? As we read the letter we will hear Paul’s call to more authentic Christian living and the challenge to us modern Christians to give witness to our world.
Click here for a link to this Sunday’s readings:
“Avoid giving offense, whether to the Jews or Greeks or the church of God, just as I try to please everyone in every way, not seeking my own benefit but that of the many. . ..”
(1 Corinthians 10:32-33)
Love is on the mind
today, especially since it is Valentine’s Day, and Paul calls everyone in the
above passage to think of others and what would benefit them--to put love in
action. This is also what our Church seeks when we focus on the common good.
Molinari Quinby, MPS, Director,
Mini-reflections on the Sunday scripture readings designed for persons on the run. “Faith Book” is also brief enough to be posted in the Sunday parish bulletins people take home.
From today’s I Corinthian reading:
“Whatever we do,
Paul counsels us that we give glory to God when we serve one another and seek unity among God’s people. God is not glorified if my choices cause wrangling and division in the community. If fact, such behavior is a negative witness to those who may be young in the faith, or considering joining the community.
So we ask ourselves:
“One has to strongly affirm that condemnation to the death penalty is an inhuman measure that humiliates personal dignity, in whatever form it is carried out."
This is a particularly vulnerable time for state and federal prisoners. Conditions, even without the pandemic, are awful in our prisons. Imagine what it is like now with the virus spreading through the close and unhealthy prison settings. I invite you to write a postcard to one or more of the inmates listed below to let them know we have not forgotten them. If the inmate responds you might consider becoming pen pals.
Please write to:
----Central Prison, 4285 Mail Service Center, Raleigh, NC 27699-4285
For more information on the Catholic position on the death penalty go to the Catholic Mobilizing Network: http://catholicsmobilizing.org/resources/cacp/ On this page you can sign “The National Catholic Pledge to End the Death Penalty.” Also, check the interfaith page for People of Faith Against the Death Penalty: http://www.pfadp.org/
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