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Monday Musing

Oh those Corinthians! St. Paul has a lot to say to them, and it is not always pretty, is it? As we go through this cycle of readings from 1 Corinthians at daily mass, I find myself wondering what St. Paul would say to us.

Oh wait – he is saying this to us, isn’t he?

Corinth was a seaside town, a port on the busy Mediterranean Sea and apparently it could be a pretty wild place. This letter is addressed to them after Paul had spent some time there establishing the church. Today we hear,

Brothers and sisters:
In giving this instruction, I do not praise the fact
that your meetings are doing more harm than good.
First of all, I hear that when you meet as a Church
there are divisions among you,
and to a degree I believe it;
there have to be factions among you

Sounds familiar. As people who know me are aware, I loathe the designations of what “kind” of Catholic one might be. By this I mean any and all of the following: liberal, conservative, progressive, or orthodox. It might feel good to get up close with those of “our kind” but it is also very dangerous. This is not just about how we practice and live our faith, but also about the other areas of our lives.

So are our meetings doing more harm than good?

Let’s hope not, but perhaps they are. If we are sitting in the pew, judging, rejecting, denying anyone, then we are already on murky ground. I can only speak for myself, I have a lot to consider, because I have often done all of those things and worse.

He goes on,

Or do you show contempt for the Church of God
and make those who have nothing feel ashamed?
What can I say to you? Shall I praise you?
In this matter I do not praise you.

Ouch! How do we make those who have nothing feel ashamed? I could write volumes on this one, but let’s just all consider this at large for a moment.

Who do we want to “drive out” of our church? Who do we want to deny in our church? Who do we reject before they even get in the door of our church?

Is it the “poor” people who leach off of “the system?” Is it those who do not work as hard as “we” do? Is it those who we might think are getting what “we earned?” Is it people lost in addiction? Is it someone who is divorced? Is it someone who is gay?

It is very easy for us to gather together and close the doors behind us, to begin without “waiting” for everyone to arrive, and for judging others who are present, or trying to get in.

The wisdom of all of this, the healing wisdom, I might point out is something that we say as we prepare to receive the Eucharist, words that come from today’s very Gospel from Luke. There is a centurion who has an ill slave and there is a push for Jesus to heal this slave. These words always strike me when I read or hear them:

They approached Jesus and strongly urged him to come, saying,
“He deserves to have you do this for him,
for he loves our nation and he built the synagogue for us.”

Deserves? Hmmm, OK – where are we headed here? What does this centurion end up doing?

...when he was only a short distance from the house,
the centurion sent friends to tell him,
“Lord, do not trouble yourself,

There is no expectation on the part of the centurion, there is respect, there is deference, there is humility. And in the midst of this, the centurion adds these words that will be altered slightly for our use at communion…

I am not worthy to have you enter under my roof.
Therefore, I did not consider myself worthy to come to you;
but say the word and let my servant be healed.

Suddenly, Paul’s message to the Corinthians comes into focus.

None of us is worthy. Ever. Yet, if Jesus says the word, our souls shall be healed. Our souls and the souls of others that we may have judged, rejected or spurned.

If the centurion can do this… well, let’s see what Jesus has to say,

When Jesus heard this he was amazed at him
and, turning, said to the crowd following him,
“I tell you, not even in Israel have I found such faith.”

Not even in Israel (among the “assembly”) has Jesus found such faith.

What a reminder that none of us is worthy, yet we are all called to be healed, if we find the humility and openness to be healed. We are all called to the table in the unity of Christ. Yet how we fracture things from the start.

Can we do this differently? If so – how?

I know that I am not sure how to do this and that I have in general (um – not worthy!) failed at it, but step by step, and always in community, I will keep trying. Will you join me?

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2 Responses

  1. What a reminder that none of us is worthy, yet we are all called to be healed, if we find the humility and openness to be healed. We are all called to the table in the unity of Christ. Yet how we fracture things from the start.

    What comes to my mind is that as we humbly answer the call to be healed, we also open ourselves to being co-healers with Christ… For then, beautifully, we become ‘wounded healers’ šŸ™‚

    You also bring a question to my mind with the idea of excluding others, to close the doors on people we reject: What are those parts of myself which I reject in order to feel safe?

    Ah, you see, Fran, you’ve started me thinking of so many things. Thank you šŸ™‚

  2. When I look around at the people I see week after week at our Sunday 11 am liturgy, I am struck by how GOOD they are and how worthy they are and how humbled I am to be worshiping with them. They are both young and old, I see so many wonderful people at our mass of all ages. It humbles me and make me try harder to be more like them. They emulate goodness and holiness, something I continue to strive for. We have a great parish!

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