Immersed in Christ: February 20, 2020
Thursday, Week Six of Ordinary Time
The Lord hears the cry of the poor.
(Responsorial: Psalm 34)
James 2:1-9 makes it sound like the Church is against the rich. That is not true. James says, “If you show favoritism”—to anybody, rich or poor—“you commit sin.” And his reason makes us think: “Your faith in our Lord Jesus Christ glorified must not allow of favoritism.” Where is he coming from?
We are the glorified Jesus. At Baptism we were incorporated into his body on the cross. We died in him and went down into the grave with him. Then God the Father asked us if we wanted to go back to earth and live a new life. He said we could do that if went back up the way we came down: in Christ. If we accept to ‘present our bodies as a living sacrifice’ to Christ in Baptism, so that he can rise from the dead in us and continue to fulfill his mission on earth in our bodies, through all we do, we can go back. But we go back with a new identity, having “become Christ.” 1
This means that everyone who is “in Christ” has the dignity, the status, of the risen body of Jesus Christ, of a son or daughter of God himself. Nothing added to this adds anything significant enough to notice! If we “show favoritism” to anyone because of accomplishments, wealth, position, power, or even sacramental ordination, we are implicitly denying the presence of the risen Jesus in all. Jesus insisted on this:
The scribes and Pharisees... love to have the place of honor at banquets and the best seats in the synagogues, and to be greeted with respect in the marketplaces, and to have people call them rabbi. But you are not to be called rabbi, for you have one teacher, and you are all students. And call no one your father on earth, for you have one Father—the one in heaven.... The greatest among you will be your servant. 2
We don’t really observe this teaching in the Church. Pastors and bishops naturally pay more attention to the opinions of the rich and influential than to the suggestions of “ordinary” people. And we do give to clergy and bishops the special titles and preferential protocols the “world” gives to military officers, corporate executives and other “important” people, even though Jesus said it should be different in his Church. This is just another example of being “like those who look at themselves in a mirror... and, on going away, immediately forget what they were like.” We forget who and what we are.
Mark 8:27-33 should keep us from feeling too bad about not accepting the Gospel completely. When Jesus told his disciples how he was really going to save the world, Peter himself, the first pope, could not accept it. Jesus told him, “Get out of my sight, you satan! You are not judging by God’s standards but by human standards.”
Like the blind man Jesus cured through repeated treatments, the Church also grows slowly into clear understanding of his word. We all need to commit ourselves to persevering discipleship.
Initiative: Never think you have understood Christ’s teaching completely. Keep reading and reflecting on his words and example. Be a disciple.
View Today's Readings Here
1 See Romans 6:3-4; 12:1-10; 2 Corinthians 5:17; Catechism of the Catholic Church, no. 795.
2 Matthew 23:1-12.