10Sep 10 September. Monday, Week 23

1st Reading: 1 Corinthians (5:1-8)

St Paul tries to apply clear discipline to a case of incest

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, 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.

Resp. Psalm (Ps 5)

R.: Lead me, Lord, in your justice

You are no God who loves evil,
no sinner is your guest;
the arrogant may not stand in your sight.
You hate all evildoers. (R./)

You destroy all who speak falsehood;
The bloodthirsty and the deceitful
the Lord abhors. (R./)

But let all who take refuge in you
be glad and Rejoice forever.
Protect them, that you may be the joy
of those who love your name. (R./)

Gospel: Luke (6:6-11)

On a Sabbath day, Jesus heals the man with a withered hand

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.


Keeping the Church united

The ministry of forming all members of the church into the one body of Christ cannot be accomplished except with divine help. Yet Paul’s patient effort to reconcile the quarrelling Corinthians seemed very worthwhile. Even in the midst of struggle, he felt impelled by a powerful force urging him on.

In his faith community in Corinth, Paul would not tolerate the scandal of public immorality, even by an influential celebrity. He brands as “lewd conduct” the case of a man cohabiting with his stepmother. Most probably the man’s actual father was deceased, but still this type of marriage was scandalous in Jewish eyes (Lev 20:11). Paul demands that they “Get rid of the old yeast,” for just a little of it would spoil the whole batch. He then speaks about the sincerity expected of Christ’s followers. Although union with Christ is open to all, regardless of race or nationality,  it comes with the condition 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.

Our church today has greater difficulty in defining the moral standards that should guide sexual behaviour. Today’s Zeitgeist has frequent “pride” marches, affirming total personal freedom in this area, and rejecting the older certainties about what is “according to nature” or conversely, “intrinsically evil”. At the very least, our church must reject any forms of behaviour that cause harm, whether physical or spiritual, to our neighbour. And following St Paul’s lead, we must still try to practice and promote accountability in our community.

No matter what the cost

Probably Jesus did not intend to stir up the quarrel in the synagogue that is reported by Mark today. But he sensed a trap by his enemies to put him in a negative light. A disabled man was being used to make Jesus look like a law-breaker, using the man’s handicap to get at the volatile preacher from Nazareth. There is a common tendency to put limits on the love of God, just as narrow-minded people tried to limit Jesus’ outreach and exclude individuals or whole groups from his help.

But his power cannot be bound by rigid traditions. So many facile reasons can be advanced for not doing the right thing: it’s the wrong day, the week to come looking for help; fear to side with the unemployed or disabled; unable to correct a powerful, influential person, for obvious wrongdoing. And people even see reasons why God should not act generously. But following Jesus’ example we should “JUST DO IT!”

Jesus was a source of hope to those desperately in need of it.Our Lord’s final words  to another human being gave hope to a man dying alongside him, “today, you will be with me in Paradise.” In today’s story, when entering the synagogue, he brought hope to the man with the withered hand, in spite of the hostile presence of others. And the man’s hope was not disappointed.


(Saint Peter Claver, priest)

Pere Claver i Corberó (1580-1654) from Catalonia, Spain, was a Jesuit priest and missionary who heroically practiced what should be the Christian praxis of love and of the exercise of human rights. During 40 years of ministry in Colombia he personally baptized many thousands of people. He is patron saint of seafarers, of slaves, of the Republic of Colombia and of ministry to African Americans.

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