10 Sept. Monday of Week Twenty Three
1 Cor 5:1ff. St Paul, on church discipline. Excommunicated for incest.
Luke 6:6ff. Jesus heals on the Sabbath, to the chagrin of his opponents.
An Uncompromising Stance
Jesus did not go to the synagogue to stir up a quarrel or to prove his miraculous power, but once there he found his enemies trying to put him in a negative light. The plight of a disabled man was used to make Jesus look like a law-breaker – how mean a ploy, to use the man’s handicap in order to gather evidence against Jesus. How widespread is the tendency to put restrictions on the love of God! But the merciful power of Jesus cannot be hidebound by conventions or rigid traditions. So many facile reasons can be advanced to prevent good from being done: the Sabbath is the wrong day of the week for helping the sick; failing to side with a poor or the disabled, for fear of being called a socialist; feeling unable to reproach a powerful man in the community, for the scandal of incest.
The hope of forming one body, of Christ and all his members, cannot be accomplished any more easily than Christ’s action of restoring the impaired hand and thereby stirring up the frenzied anger of his opponents. Yet Paul’s patient effort to reconcile all men and women brings great joy and satisfaction. Since this ideal is so glorious, Paul feels himself, even in the midst of struggle, to be impelled by a powerful force urging him on.
In his Church community in Corinth, Paul would not tolerate a compromise in public morality, no matter how influential the person may be. He speaks of the “lewd conduct” of a man who is cohabiting with his stepmother. Most probably the father is deceased, but still this type of marriage was seriously scandalous in Jewish eyes (Lev 20:11). Paul demands therefore, “Get rid of the old yeast,” for just a little of it would spoil the whole batch. He takes the occasion to speak of the sincerity expected of Christ’s followers. Although union with Christ is open to all, regardless of race or nationality, still it comes at the cost of fidelity and self-control. To be one body in Christ (1 Cor 12:12,27) means that the purifying spirit of Jesus must flow through all the members.
First Reading: 1 Corinthians 5:1-8
It is actually reported that there is immorality among you, and of a kind that is not found even among pagans; for a man is living with his father’s wife. And you are arrogant! Ought you not rather to mourn? Let him who has done this be removed from among you. For though absent in body I am present in spirit, and as if present, I have already pronounced judgment in the name of the Lord Jesus on the man who has done such a thing. When you are assembled, and my spirit is present, with the power of our Lord Jesus, you are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord Jesus.
Your boasting is not good. Do you not know that a little leaven leavens the whole lump? Cleanse out the old leaven that you may be a new lump, as you really are unleavened. For Christ, our paschal lamb, has been sacrificed. Let us, therefore, celebrate the festival, no with the old leaven, the leaven of malice and evil, but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.
Gospel: Luke 6:6-11
On another Sabbath he entered the synagogue and taught, and there was a man there whose right hand was withered. The scribes and the Pharisees watched him to see whether he would cure on the Sabbath, so that they might find an accusation against him. Even though he knew what they were thinking, he said to the man who had the withered hand, “Come and stand here.” He got up and stood there. Then Jesus said to them, “I ask you, is it lawful to do good or to do harm on the Sabbath, to save life or to destroy it?” After looking around at all of them, he said to him, “Stretch out your hand.” He did so, and his hand was restored. But they were filled with fury and discussed with one another what they might do to Jesus.