Tuesday, September 19, 2006

24th Tuesday in Ordinary Time (II)
Christian Ambition

Reading: 1 Corinthians 12:12-14, 27-31a; Psalm 100:1b-2, 3, 4, 5; Luke 7:11-17

We know well Paul’s use of the human body to describe the Christian community. Each of us, with our different gifts, is a different part of the one Body of Christ. Paul draws out several implications and insights that follow from his use of this analogy. Perhaps the most obvious is unity in diversity. The parts are many, but the Body is one . It also follows that the different parts – our different gifts – are meant for a particular purpose: to work together for the well-being of the Body. The different parts find fulfillment to the extent that they expend themselves for the welfare of the Body.

It is in this context of unity in diversity and of service that Paul speaks of ambition. Be ambitious for the higher gifts. And in this connection Paul also speaks of a better way, a way which we will hear him discuss further tomorrow. Why should a Christian be ambitious? The answer is clear from the preceding discussion: not for self-promotion, but in order to render greater service. And if there is indeed a better way, what makes it better? Is it not because – in contrast to the kind of selfish ambition that causes division – this better way unites the different parts more closely together into one Body?

In the gospel today we find the exercise of such a higher gift. Of course, the most obvious gift being exercised is probably the miraculous raising of the dead to life. Yet is there not an even higher gift, a better way, being demonstrated by Jesus? Consider the gospel description of Jesus’ meeting with the grieving mother. When the Lord saw her he felt sorry for her. ‘Do not cry’ he said. Here we find an instance of the compassion of Jesus. Could this be an example of a higher gift, a gift capable of uniting the Body of Christ? Could this be that for which Paul wishes Christians to be ambitious? Is this not a striking manifestation of the power of the one Spirit… given to us all to drink?

How Christian, how Spirit-inspired, are our ambitions? For what gift or gifts are we moved to pray today?


(1) Another essential aspect of the Church's teaching on globalization is the promotion of solidarity. A global solidarity that will ensure all peoples can benefit from the economic changes taking place. Christian solidarity consists in making ourselves responsible for the welfare of others. It is more than compassion or sentiments, as it calls for a ful reciprocity in human relationships. (Taken from http://www.zenit.org/english/, Christianity and Globalization);

(2) I really have three prized possesions that I cling to and treasure; the first of these is compassion, the second, frugality, and the third is my reluctance to try to become preeminent in the world. It is because of my compassion that I can be courageous; it is because of my frugality that I can be generous; it is because of my reluctance to try to become preeminent in the world that I am able to become chief among all things. (Daodejing: Making This Life Significant, chapter 67, translated by Roger T. Ames and David L. Hall)]

1 comment:

  1. Fr. Chris,
    Thanks to you, I'm now a subscriber to Zenit.org
    My body sometimes does not respond to my brain, most times it takes over in moments of weakness when one is supposed to be strong.
    Amplify this human trait to our interconnectedness, the resultant outcome is unpredictability. If we all share the same views and ideals, then our very existence becomes humdrum. In some cases, resolving conflict becomes the very reason for existence. Am I making sense??
    Just as confused as ever.