August 31, 2016 Wednesday, Twenty-Second Week of Year II
The Responsorial (Psalm 33) rejoices in God’s plan: “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.”
In 1Corinthians 3:1-9 Paul is trying to get the Corinthians to grow up. They were an enthusiastic community, eager to experience and express the “gifts of the Spirit.” But they were still too focused on themselves and on what they “got out of it” when they celebrated together. And there were “jealousy and quarrels” among them, a sure sign of self-seeking. Even in sharing their spiritual gifts with one another, they were looking for status. And forming cliques around favorite ministers.
Paul says ministry is not about the people doing it, but about what they are doing. “Neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” Our focus should be on “building up” the Church and transforming society as “God’s co-workers,” looking forward to “a new heaven and a new earth” where God will be “all in all.”
If we keep our focus on the glory that is to be, we will not be puffed up by what we see or deflated by what we don’t see in ourselves, especially as compared to others. We all “have a common purpose, and each will receive wages,” not based on accomplishments or “success,” but “according to the labor of each.” All God asks is fidelity, which boils down to one thing: keep trying.
In Luke 4:38-44 Jesus refuses to be distracted from his mission. When he worked miracles of physical healing, the crowds flocked to him and “tried to keep him from leaving them.” But Jesus said, “I must announce the good news of the reign of God to the other towns also, because that I why I was sent.”
Jesus didn’t really come to heal bodies. He did that simply out of love when confronted with pain and suffering. And as a sign of his power to “cast out the demons” that hold people back from the true “life to the full” he came to give.
Neither did he come to establish the “kingdom” that people expected: a government that would ensure prosperity and power to their own country, with a peace imposed and protected through victory in war. They wanted a Messiah who would use the divine power of God to satisfy their human desires and save them from suffering on earth. When Jesus made it clear that this was not what he came to do, they rejected him. We still do.
As “stewards of his kingship,” we do want to establish an environment of peace and prosperity on earth: but through justice and love, not violence. And not as the goal, but as a means to and consequence of our true goal, which is that all people should freely accept and live by the divine truth and love of God. “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.”
Initiative: Be a steward of his kingship. Keep your focus.