Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time

Lectionary: 359

Collect for Persecuted Christians

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all encouragement, who encourages us in our every affliction, so that we may be able to encourage those who are in any affliction with the encouragement with which we ourselves are encouraged by God. For as Christ's sufferings overflow to us, so through Christ does our encouragement also overflow.

Unlike the recommended collect for today, Saint Paul's Second Letter to the Corinthians was addressed to a troubled community who suffered internal strife, not persecution from Jews or gentiles.
Corinth was a port city in the Mediterranean Sea on the isthmus between the Greek mainland and Peloponnese. Before today's canal was dug, goods were portaged from the Corinthian Sea to the Aegean Sea. This polyglot, international port had a well-deserved reputation for wild, riotous living. Homeless sailors are known to make the most of their leaves. The adjective corinthian still carries connotations of scandalous living. 
Saint Paul founded a church in this den of iniquity and announced the story of Jesus' life, death and resurrection to them. Pickpockets, prostitutes and thieves enthusiastically embraced this Good News, but even the most sincere sometimes lapsed into their former foolishness. Saint Paul's two letters to them reflects the challenges he faced as he invited them to realize the worth and dignity Jesus had won for them. At times, being angry and upset, he seemed to write them off altogether. 
And so he began his "Second Letter to the Corinthians" with a word of reassurance. The Father of compassion encourages us in our every affliction.
Saint Paul was both father and mother to his disciples; at times a stern disciplinarian, and then a reassuring consoler. It is never easy to pull off both roles gracefully, the best of parents does it awkwardly. 
Similarly, Christians are often confused in our approach to God. Is he the stern judge of our sins or the reassuring comfort of the afflicted. Perhaps you've heard the expression, "He afflicts the comfortable and comforts the afflicted."
So which one am I? Living uneasily in a threatened middle class, am I judged for not doing enough for the needy, or reassured because I've tried to do my part? Am I condemned as a guilty bystander or blessed for belonging to a saved community? 
We are often teased for our chronic "Catholic guilt." 
Unable to resolve this conflict, I can only suppose it's good to hear both words. I should welcome the Inspired Word that exposes my guilt and be ever-ready to own my sin. I should be equally ready to hear a word of reassurance from the Beautiful Savior who loves me. 
I can receive either and prefer neither, with the confidence that, even from hell I would praise your Name.

1 comment:

  1. A stern judge or a reassuring comforter? I need both. I can only call out for Mercy. Sacred Heart of Jesus or Divine Mercy Jesus. I'll take it anyway I can. I just desire to be near the Creator.


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.

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