Sunday, June 16, 2013

Possessing All Things

Possessing All Things

Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
We are treated as deceivers and yet are truthful; as unrecognized and yet acknowledged; as dying and behold we live; as chastised and yet not put to death; as sorrowful yet always rejoicing; as poor yet enriching many; as having nothing and yet possessing all things.  2 COR 6:8b-10
Jesus said to his disciples: “You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’  But I say to you, offer no resistance to one who is evil.  When someone strikes you on your right cheek, turn the other one to him as well.”  Matthew 5:38-39


It was the best of times, it was the worst of times, it was the age of wisdom, it was the age of foolishness, it was the epoch of belief, it was the epoch of incredulity, it was the season of Light, it was the season of Darkness, it was the spring of hope, it was the winter of despair, we had everything before us, we had nothing before us, we were all going direct to Heaven, we were all going direct the other way – in short, the period was so far like the present period, that some of its noisiest authorities insisted on its being received, for good or for evil, in the superlative degree of comparison only.  (Charles Dickens, A Tale of Two Cities)


Today’s first reading may not contain the poetic power of that first paragraph from Dickens’ A Tale of Two Cities.  After all, this is not the best of times, nor the worst of times.  It was, as St. Paul writes, an acceptable time.  But an acceptable time is time for salvation.  Just as Dickens started his most famous novel with a series of opposing statements, so, too does Paul address the people of Corinth.
Through this litany of experiences (“afflictions, hardships, constraints, beatings, imprisonments, riots,
labors, vigils, fasts”), we are reminded that the life of the early Christians was not easy.  Despite their intentions, they were upsetting the status quo and challenging not only the people of Jewish faith, but also the various pagan religions of the day in favor of following the path of Jesus.  For such an actions, they experienced glory and dishonor, praise and insult. 
While such experiences may not be welcome, they mark time that is acceptable to the Lord.  Early in Luke’s Gospel, we also encounter the same phrase about “acceptable” time for the Lord. As Jesus reads from the scroll of Isaiah, the passage ends with proclaiming a year “acceptable” to the Lord. 


Do we think we will have it any easier? After all, this is not the best of times, nor the worst of times.  This is just ordinary time. 
Paul and the early Christians did not offer to the Lord one hour on Sunday.  They offered their whole lives to the Lord and to the early community. We, on the other hand, are called to keep holy the Lord’s Day – the whole day, every day.  Sometimes, the rest of that Sabbath day and the week, is devoted to ourselves.
Yet, we have been told what will make time acceptable to the Lord.  We are asked to “bring glad tidings to the poor,” “to proclaim liberty to captives and recovery of sight to the blind, to let the oppressed go free.” 
How can you make this week “acceptable” to the Lord in your piety, study and action?  What specific plans are you making to turn this week into the best of time for the poor, oppressed, blind and captive?

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