Immersed in Christ: September 16, 2020
Wednesday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time
(also, Memorial of Saints Cornelius, Pope, and Cyprian, Bishop, Martyrs)
The Responsorial (Psalm 33) identifies authentic joy: “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.”
1Corinthians 12:31 to 13:13 is known as Paul’s “hymn to love.” But it is more precisely a hymn to maturity. Paul is talking about the passage from “childish ways” to maturity, from what is imperfect to perfect, partial to full.
When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child…when I became an adult, I put an end to childish ways.
Paul begins by saying that those who want spiritual gifts just to feel good about themselves and to look better than others are not “spiritual people, but rather… infants in Christ.” He ends with the call to grow up: “Do not be children in your thinking; rather, be infants in evil, but in thinking be adults.”
The sign of maturity is dedication to “building up the Church.” Adult Christians, like good stewards, take responsibility for using God’s gifts
for roles of service, to build up the body of Christ, till we become one in faith and in the knowledge of God’s Son, and form that perfect man who is Christ come to full stature.
None of us has anything to boast about. We are just stewards of gifts from God who is “the source of our life in Christ Jesus.” Our faith is a sharing in God’s own knowing act, but it is imperfect.
For now we see indistinctly, as in a mirror; then we will see face to face. My knowledge is imperfect now; then I shall know fully, even as I am known.
Our hope can be called a sharing in God’s will to do what he promises. His intentions become ours: our goal and our strength. But our hopes fall far short of the reality: “no eye has seen… nor human heart conceived, what God has prepared for those who love him.” So like “good stewards of the manifold grace of God” we invest and try to grow in what is greater and more lasting, knowing that “when the perfect comes, the imperfect will come to an end.”
Building up the Church can be painful. In Luke 7:31-35 Jesus points out that anyone whose fundamental desire is not for what he offers will always find a reason to reject him and his messengers:
John the Baptizer came eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, “He has a demon.” The Son of Man came eating and drinking, and you say, “Look, a glutton and a drunkard….!”
Paul’s answer to this was:
Think of us… as servants of Christ and stewards of God’s mysteries. ….It is required of stewards that they be found trustworthy. But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged by you or by any human court.... It is the Lord who judges me.
As stewards of Christ the King, we are ultimately accountable only to him. Like Paul, we try to “become all things to all people,” to win them to Christ, But our focus is on fidelity, not on popularity, admiration or visible results. We know the source of our joy: “Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own.” 3
Initiative: Be a steward of the greater gifts. Serve with faith, hope and love.