18 Sept. 2013. Wednesday of the 24th Week
1 Tim 3:14ff. The church is entrusted with the mystery of salvation, meant for the whole world.
Luke 7:31ff. Self-centred people cannot respond to others, whether to dance to a tune or mourn to a dirge.
First Reading: 1 Timothy 3:14-16
I hope to come to you soon, but I am writing these instructions to you so that, if I am delayed, you may know how one ought to behave in the household of God, which is the church of the living God, the pillar and bulwark of the truth. Without any doubt, the mystery of our religion is great: He was revealed in flesh, vindicated in spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among Gentiles, believed in throughout the world, taken up in glory.
Gospel: Luke 7:31-35
Jesus said to his disciples, “To what then will I compare the people of this generation, and what are they like? They are like children sitting in the marketplace and calling to one another, ‘We played the flute for you, and you did not dance; we wailed, and you did not weep.’ For John the Baptist has come eating no bread and drinking no wine, and you say, ‘He has a demon’; the Son of Man has come eating and drinking, and you say, ‘Look, a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors and sinners!’ Nevertheless, wisdom is vindicated by all her children.”
The Church as a family
Ideally, the members of the church are all “members of God’s household.” First Timothy quotes a confession of faith, popular among believers. The Gospel cites a piece of ancient wisdom, echoing the Book of Proverbs and repeated from parent to child, rabbi to student. Paul most probably did not compose the hymn to charity but drew on a well-known hymnic statement of the early church.
A good family is never monotonous and its members are respectful of each others’ giftedness. Paul envisaged a church gifted with many talents: prophecy, comprehension of mysteries, generosity in feeding the poor, even willing to die for the faith. But he also knew that some can put on airs and become snobbish. They can be rude or prone to anger, whereas all true gifts should be united in love. There are in the end three things that last: faith, hope, and love, and the greatest of these is love.
To love in such an way, the leaders of God’s household cannot be dominant autocrats or narrow careerists, but people who care deeply for the family of the church. If there is strength in unity, these are the people who strengthen our common faith.