≡ Menu

Monday Morning Quarterback, Fourth Sunday of Ordinary Time

This Sunday we heard probably one of the most quoted parts of the New Testament in St. Paul’s 1 Corinthians 12:31-13:13.  Many of us, myself included, have it as one of the readings for our wedding Mass.  It is both a challenging (“love is patient” as my wife chided me earlier) and comforting (“Love never fails“).  This is such a powerful reading it wold be very easy to focus only on it alone and leave the others in the background, but I believe that would be a mistake.

For the sake of brevity, I’d like to tie this second reading in with just the Gospel reading and leave other connections for later or as work for others.  In fact I’m going to look at just one line from this second reading as it pertains to the Gospel reading.  With luck I can keep that under 1,000 words.

In verse 6 St. Paul tells us, “it [love] does not rejoice at wrong, but rejoices in the right.”  This also means that sometimes love, to truly be love, is compelled to correct errors on the part of others that they may more fully participate in the joy of truth and love.  Sometimes, in love, we have to tell others what they don’t want to hear.  Our goal must never be purely to make people uncomfortable (for that would be to desire ill for someone which is the polar opposite of love) but rather to help bring them to a more full understanding of the truth which in the end is the only way they will be truly happy.  If you’ll pardon a little bit of an excursion into philosophy, let me elaborate just a smidge.  Aristotle tells us the proper object of the intellect is truth, and the proper object of the will is the good.  Even the most basic Christian teaching tells us that the ultimate truth is God, who is Truth itself, and the ultimate good is God from Whom all good comes.  We are happy to the extent our intellect and will are directed toward their proper ends, so therefore helping another to come closer to this end is, all else being equal, helping them to become happier – even if at this particular moment in time they don’t want to hear it.

In the Gospel Jesus tells those gathered in the synagogue the very truth that “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.” (Lk 4:21)  The people were, for a time, willing to hear this and take in what he said.  Then, altogether too quickly, questions formed in their minds and they demanded proof.  Not only did Jesus refuse to comply (and why he would refuse is the topic for another time) but he went even further and hinted that their unwillingness to listen and accept in faith what he was saying would result in good news for the Gentiles.  At this they attempted to lead him “to the brow of the hill on which their city was built, that they might throw him down headlong.

Jesus had just told them that not only was Scripture being fulfilled in their hearing but that they must accept it on faith and that it would redound for good not only to them but to other peoples as well.  Their reaction was not one of willingness to be open to what they were hearing – they tried to kill him!  Sometimes no matter how great, how wonderful, the news is we might have to share with others they just simply aren’t going to want to hear it because it will mean they have to change somehow, and they might even try to kill us for it.

Think of how many topics in the modern world today we have that could be spliced into this story, where a joyful truth simply explained results in insults and threats.  Gay “marriage”, contraception, abortion, even topics like immigration and a preferential option for the poor all can result in dangerously violent reactions.  Yet we are called, in love, to do just as Jesus did – tell them anyway and allow them to accept or reject the truth.  To decline to help another better understand the truth for fear of ridicule, chastisement or even punishment is to withhold love from the other which is something we as Christians can never do.  If more of us had the courage, and even moreso the love to help others to the truth this world would be a far different place.  Do you love those others in your life enough to draw them to truth and the ultimate happiness which results?  Even if they might object for a time?  “A servant is not greater than his master.” (Jn 15:20)

{ 0 comments… add one }

Leave a Comment