05Sep 05 September. Wednesday, Week 22

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians (3:1-9)

Teamwork, not envy and strife, is required of God’s co-workers

Brothers and sisters, I could not address you as spiritual people, but as people of the flesh, as babes in Christ. I fed you with milk, not solid food; for you were not ready for it; and even yet you are not ready, for you are still of the flesh. For while there is jealousy and strife among you, are you not of the flesh, and behaving like ordinary men? For when one says, “I belong to Paul,” and another, “I belong to Apollos,” are you not merely men?

What then is Apollos? What is Paul? Servants through whom you believed, as the Lord assigned to each. I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are equal, and each shall receive his wages according to his labour. For we are God’s fellow workers; you are God’s field, God’s building.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 33)

R.: Happy the people the Lord has chosen to be his own

Blessed the nation whose God is the Lord,
the people he has chosen for his own inheritance.
From heaven the Lord looks down;
he sees all mankind. (R./)

From his fixed throne he beholds
all who dwell on the earth,
He who fashioned the heart of each,
he who knows all their works. (R./)

Our soul waits for the Lord,
who is our help and our shield,
For in him our hearts rejoice;
in his holy name we trust. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (4:38-44)

Jesus heals Simon Peter’s mother-in-law, then continues his mission

After leaving the synagogue Jesus entered Simon’s house. Now Simon’s mother-in-law was suffering from a high fever, and they asked him about her. Then he stood over her and rebuked the fever, and it left her. Immediately she got up and began to serve them.

As the sun was setting, all those who had any who were sick with various kinds of diseases brought them to him; and he laid his hands on each of them and cured them. Demons also came out of many, shouting, “You are the Son of God!” But he rebuked them and would not allow them to speak, because they knew that he was the Messiah.

At daybreak he departed and went into a deserted place. And the crowds were looking for him; and when they reached him, they wanted to prevent him from leaving them. But he said to them, “I must proclaim the good news of the kingdom of God to the other cities also; for I was sent for this purpose.” So he continued proclaiming the message in the synagogues of Judea.


Caring was his normal response

Arriving at Simon Peter’s home, Jesus finds the apostle’s mother-in-law suffering from a severe fever. But notice how the sequence of events is told. This particular story, told over and over again, has been reduced to its bare bones, just the details helpful for catechetical instruction:
1) the woman is found critically sick;
2) friends intercede with Jesus on her behalf;
3) he stands over her and addresses the fever;
4) she gets up immediately and waits on them.

Clearly the people around Jesus asked him to help the sick woman. This endorses the practice of praying for one another and of asking the saints to intercede for us. After the woman’s miraculous cure, one might expect the story to centre on Jesus. That was not what actually happened. Life in her kitchen returned to the normal routine of hospitality, for “she got up immediately and waited on them.”

Such generosity does not happen easily, or in all cases. Even Paul’s converts did not follow any shortcut to heaven but often seemed to lose their way in selfish quarrels. He calls them “infants,” not adults, not yet ready for solid food. Like children they were inclined to squabble over petty matters. They were split into rival cliques each supporting a different spiritual leader. Religion was being used to produce “in-groups” and their natural tendency to pride ended up in ridiculous ecclesiastical bickering. Paul reminds them that every church leader was God’s co-worker and that the church is nobody’s private property, or rather, “you are God’s garden.”

In our church today is there not a similar danger of splitting into rival factions, with some in high positions seeming intent on undermining the pastoral programme of pope Francis?

Moving on

Jesus brought healing to many people in Capernaum. Understandably, the people there wanted to hold on to him. So when he went off to a lonely place just outside the town to pray they caught up with him and tried to prevent him leaving. Then Jesus made it very clear that he had to move on, ‘I must proclaim the kingdom of God in the other towns too.’ The Capernaum villagers had to let him go; Jesus was at the disposal of God’s purpose, which took priority over what the townspeople wanted.

We began reading Luke’s gospel last Monday, and we will notice how he consistently portrays Jesus as someone totally devoted to serve God’s purpose. That often brought Our Lord into conflict with what others expected of him. We are all called to live our lives in line with the will of God. We try to do what we believe God wants of us. That may bring us into conflict with what other people expect or want from us. In our struggle to do God’s will, we have the Spirit of Jesus to help us on our way. He can empower us to take the path he took, through his presence to us in his word, in the Eucharist.

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