Daily Reflection
September 9th , 2000
Fr. John Fitzgibbons, S.J.
English Department
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First Corinthians 4:9-15
Psalms 145:17-21
Luke 6:1-5

Paul is famous for his suspicions and the list covers a lot:  the human body, passions, people who see things differently than he does, his fellow evangelists, and even at times the other Apostles ­ like Peter.  Granting the difficulty of his evangelical missions, the constant rejections, and the magnitude of his message, one could ask with some justification whether Paul possesses a misanthropic strain!

Jesus in Luke’s Gospel, however, appears as nearly the opposite as can be imagined.  Rules, human traditions, and lots of expectations don’t seem to matter very much to Jesus in Luke’s Gospel.  For Jesus, it’s all about who is called and who sits at table to break bread.  He calls as companions fishermen and prostitutes, Zealot Party members and Pharisees.  He dines with the power brokers and those utterly rejected by society.  In today’s gospel reading, Jesus rebuffs some Pharisees for putting cultic law before the genuine needs of people.  Needs like hunger.  He says pointedly, “The Son of Man is master of the sabbath.”  In other words, while the Mosaic Law stipulates rest and forbids harvest work on the sabbath, people cannot be nourished with God’s word if they are physically hungry.  No misanthropy here!

Seemingly true to form, Paul addresses the Corinthians with pugnacious honesty, upbraiding those in the community who have fallen into arrogance:  “It is not for you, so full of your own importance, to go taking sides for one person against another.”  What keeps Paul from falling into the same trap as those he attacks?  Just this:  He learned from Jesus what love means.  It means being a servant of others, not a doormat.

Paul puts it well:  “God has put us apostles at the end of his parade, with those sentenced to death; it is true ­ we have been put on show in front of the whole universe, angels as well as human beings.  Here we are, fools for the sake of Christ…we have no power…we are nobodies…I am saying all this not to make you ashamed but to bring you, as my dearest children, to your senses.”  Those who would lead, must serve all the others.  If Paul learned anything from Jesus, he learned that.

So for Paul, in imitation of Jesus, people come first.  Pugnacity, personality problems, and tenacious perspective are wrapped up with Godly love in this one mighty evangelist.  What saves Paul and what saves us is the ability to will the one thing:  To love as Jesus does.

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