June 18, 2009 – Thursday, Week 11
2 Corinthians 11:1-11 / Psalm 111 / Matthew 6:7-15
Paul pokes a little fun at the way that the Corinthians tolerate others by asking them to put up with him. If belief in the Lord, his resurrection and his desire for our unity with him can be reckoned as foolishness, then Paul views himself as the chief fool for Christ. Paul was a Jew and a Pharisee, he knew well the commandments and the first among them was our obedience and worship of the one true God. It was such from the very beginning: “You shall not have other gods besides me. You shall not carve idols for yourselves in the shape of anything in the sky above or on the earth below or in the waters beneath the earth; you shall not bow down before them or worship them. For I, the LORD, your God, am a jealous God… (Exodus 20:3-5). Here he translates this relationship to that of the Christian believer and Jesus. The economy of images (pictures and statues) changes because of the incarnation; there is no conflict with monotheism because while Christ is the divine Second Person of the Trinity, God is still ONE (nature). Paul loves and cares for them from the perspective of God. God will not share them. Paul sowed the Word among them and he feels a continuing responsibility for them. He draws upon the marriage analogy with Christ as the groom and the Church as his bride. They need to remain faithful to the covenant that God has made with them. He would have them face the Lord unblemished by idolatry or scandal. Indeed, Paul regards such things as spiritual adultery. Citing Eve and the serpent, he is concerned that the devil has corrupted some of the Corinthians and their notions of faith. Today, we must still be alert to false prophets, counterfeit gospels and fake depictions of Christ. He contends that he gave his preaching without cost. His needs were answered by another community who sent him to be among them. This is also a modern concern, where some ministers become rich by their ministry and avoid saying things which might empty out the collection plate. Like Paul, our boast should only be in the truth of Christ. Paul says he may not be the greatest speaker, but he is in full possession of the truth. He preaches not for gain but because, as he says, he loves them. As a priest who has sometimes seen members of the flock drawn away by mega-churches and evangelical churches, I can well relate to Paul. We might not always have the best music, or much in the way of entertainment and dancers, and even our preaching can become either boring or upsetting to listeners; but the Catholic Church, apart from all the accidentals, has the true and complete Gospel and the Eucharist. The substance alone should suffice to keep believers within the house that Jesus directly established and for which Paul preached so long ago. There really is nowhere else to go. As the Psalmist relates, so too we can sing, “I will give thanks to the LORD with all my heart in the company and assembly of the just.”
Turning to today’s Gospel, Jesus would have us be mindful of our words at prayer. He does two things in the reading: he gives us his own formal prayer as our own and he gives us a model for prayer. Indeed, the Our Father has within itself all the various types of prayer: adoration or praise, contrition or sorrow, thanksgiving, and supplication or petition.