Monday, September 18, 2006

24th Monday in Ordinary Time (II)
Waiting for One Another

Reading: 1 Corinthians 11:17-26, 33; Psalm 40:7-8a, 8b-9, 10, 17; Luke 7:1-10

There is some irony in our readings today that becomes apparent when we compare the first reading and the gospel. We would expect to find unity, harmony and peace in the first reading, dealing as it does with the Christian community. Instead what Paul highlights is a lack of trust among separate factions. We would expect to find differences, discord and suspicion in the gospel, describing as it does relations between some Jews and a Roman centurion. Instead we find both Jew and Roman speaking up for one another.

At the center of this contrast is Paul’s description of the Eucharist. Paul insightfully identifies the problem with the Corinthian Christians. Even though they apparently celebrate Eucharist together, their meetings do… more harm than good, because they do not live the spirit of what they celebrate. Each is concerned for his or her own satisfaction so that one person goes hungry while another is getting drunk. In response Paul exhorts them to wait for one another.

In contrast, Paul’s advice to the Corinthians is in fact what is practiced by the Jewish elders and especially by the Roman Centurion in the gospel. None of them seem to be concerned for their own welfare. Rather each is concerned for the other. The elders intercede with Jesus on the centurion’s behalf. The centurion intercedes on behalf of his servant, even as he selflessly donated money to build the synagogue. They are, in effect, waiting for – or better, waiting onone another. They are living the spirit of the Eucharist, even if they do not actually celebrate it ritually. We notice how, in the gospel, both Jew and Roman are in positions of authority – the former are elders, the latter is a centurion. And yet we notice how they both humble themselves in positions of service. The centurion, in particular, lowers himself to the extent of acknowledging the authority of Jesus -- an itinerant Jewish teacher -- all for the sake of his Jewish servant. Is this not an expression of the faith that Jesus praises so glowingly?

In our meetings, in our life together as Christians, how well do we live the spirit of the Eucharist? Which community does ours resemble more closely – that of the first reading or that of the gospel? How are we being called to wait for one another?

No comments:

Post a Comment