20Jun 20 June 2019.

Thursday of Week 11

1st Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-11

Paul asks for their patience; he will not be a financial burden to them

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me. I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do.

Responsorial: Psalm 110:1-4, 7-8)

Response: I will thank the Lord with all my heart

I will thank the Lord with all my heart
in the meeting of the just and their assembly.
Great are the works of the Lord;
to be pondered by all who love them. (R./)

Majestic and glorious his work,
his justice stands firm for ever.
He makes us remember his wonders.
The Lord is compassion and love. (R./)

His works are justice and truth:
his precepts are all of them sure,
standing firm for ever and ever:
they are made in uprightness and truth. (R./)

Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Our prayer must not be too wordy and must include a spirit of forgiveness

Jesus said,
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

BIBLE

Trying to clear the air

Some critics in the Corinthian church accused Paul of merely “rattling” words, seeing him as just a talker, not a doer. They felt he should be more tolerant in practice, and more learned an eloquent in his sermons. It seems that he did not fit their exalted expectation of what an apostle should be like. Paul does not back down in the face of their criticism but claims the right and privilege of speaking frankly to them, as their founding apostle. He blames them for welcoming roving preachers who undermined their loyalty to Paul himself and promoted a different vision of Jesus. He calls those preachers troublemakers, “super-apostles,” and implies that these so-called apostles were fooling the people, and exploiting the ministry as a profitable career. By contrast, he and Barnabas worked manually for their living (1 Cor 9) so that the gospel message was not preached for personal gain and could be accepted as God’s pure word.

This plain speaking seems to have cleared the air between Paul and his Corinthians. He calls on them to make their language “Yea” and “Nay” (2 Cor 1:18) and to re-dedicate their lives to Christ. Here is genuine forgiveness, wiping the slate clean so that their relationship can blossom again, with more wisdom and maturity. Using an Old Testament image, he compares them to a chaste bride coming to her marriage, with joyful enthusiasm to be united with Christ. This image from the prophet Hosea (Hos 2:16), was later used by Jeremiah (Jer 2:2), Isaiah (Isa 54:5) and the Song of Songs.

Paul’s words had a sobering effect on his readers and brought at least some of them back to their first loyalty, as a “chaste virgin” devoted to Christ. By forgiving one another we announce the coming of God’s kingdom and both receive and distribute the “daily bread” that God gives us.


The Lord’s Prayer

The Lord’s Prayer is found in two quite distinct forms, in Matthew (6:7ff) and Luke (11:2ff). In Matthew, Jesus prefaces the prayer by urging them not to use many words, not to “babble” when praying to God. This refers to the pagan practice of bombarding the gods with wordy, unintelligible formulae, to get them to act favourably to mankind. The disciples of Jesus are not to relate to his heavenly Father in that way. God is cannot be manipulated by our many words. Rather, as the Lord’s Prayer suggests, we begin by surrendering ourselves to whatever God may want to do with us and with our world.

What basically matters is that we bless and honour God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s holy will. We don’t focus our prayer on what we want for ourselves, but try to embrace what God wants of us. Then we acknowledge our dependence on God for life, for our basic needs, for food for the day, for forgiveness, for strength when our faith is put to the test. The Lord’s Prayer is powerful in its simplicity. It is not simply one prayer among many; it remains the fundamental teaching on how to pray.


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