Saturday of the Twenty-seventh Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 466

For all of you who were baptized into Christ have clothed yourselves with Christ. There is neither Jew nor Greek,
there is neither slave nor free person,
there is not male and female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants, heirs according to the promise.

Philosopher of the Enlightenment, drawing much inspiration from the Christian traditions of Europe, declared that “All men are created equal.” The Founding Fathers, led by Thomas Jefferson, were thinking of American landowners of (preferably) English descent when they signed the Declaration of Independence. They gave little thought to the notion that “men” might include women, slaves, the poor, the sick and disabled.

The American experiment eventually heard Abigail Adams’ message to her husband John, the future president, to “Remember the ladies.” A form of equality has been extended to women and other Americans.

Unfortunately, Jefferson and his brethren ignored the spiritual foundations of equality: In Christ there is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free. 

Beyond his saving presence equality is only a mirage. It is a nice idea people salute from afar as they struggle to survive. The "real world" we have fashioned creates only winners and losers. 

Saint Paul may have had a vague idea of the universal equality of all persons, but he was thinking specifically only of those “who were baptized into Christ.”

Those who have “clothed yourself in Christ” should regard one another with that divine friendliness which is eager to please and sensitive to sensibilities. Many observers have deplored the encroaching rudeness in American society. While it’s good that we can speak publicly of delicate health issues, comediennes recklessly “stretch the envelope” to amuse our "inner child". Violent tattoos and ragged beards and body piercing declare “Don’t tread on me.”  Self-described patriots carry concealed weapons for protection against their fellow citizens. Not only are insults a staple of sitcoms, they foul the political environment. 

Saint Paul was not a romantic; he never supposed his vision of equality among Christians might extend to the entire Roman Empire. He only reminded his disciples that you are all “one in Christ Jesus.” As we learn his ethos we develop a sense of humor that unites rather than divides, we learn to laugh with those who laugh and weep with those who weep. 

In Christ there are no rivals in a world of scant resources. Rather we take our places as children at a table God has set, which overflows with blessings. 

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I love to write. This blog helps me to meditate on the Word of God, and I hope to make some contribution to our contemplations of God's Mighty Works.

Ordinarily, I write these reflections two or three weeks in advance of their publication. I do not intend to comment on current events.

I understand many people prefer gender-neutral references to "God." I don't disagree with them but find that language impersonal, unappealing and tasteless. When I refer to "God" I think of the One whom Jesus called "Abba" and "Father", and I would not attempt to improve on Jesus' language.

You're welcome to add a thought or raise a question.