|1 Corinthians 4:1-5
Psalm 37:3-4, 5-6, 27-28, 39-40
We are quite familiar from earlier readings of this week that there were many divisions among the Christians at Corinth. We read that some Christians were loyal to Paul, others followed Apollo’s and still others were the disciples of Cephas. So in today’s reading, Paul is telling the Corinthians how to respond to the divisions and whom to choose as leader or administrator.
Following Jesus’ teaching, Paul reminds the Corinthians and us that in this life it is wrong to judge anyone, administrator or otherwise. That will be taken care of by the Lord who “will bring to light what is hidden in darkness and manifest the intentions of hearts.” However we are rational beings and as such we are hardly oblivious to the actions and activities of others. Paul tells us to find the administrator who is trustworthy. Noticing people acting honestly, speaking truthful and dealing fairly with others, we spontaneously respect them for being trustworthy. Paul encourages us to follow them.
In the Gospel, Matthew cites another conflict in Christ’s time: the question of “fasting frequently and offering prayers.” The scribes and Pharisees criticize the Lord’s followers because they don’t follow these practices. To which Jesus responds: “Can you make guests of the groom fast while the groom is still with them?”
It seems that Jesus is reminding his protagonists and us, too, about the difference between goals and means. Fasting and prayer are means to obtain the end. Union with Christ is the goal. Why would his disciples fast while they were living securely in the company of Christ? In the life long journey, occasionally losing contact with the Lord, all of us will have to pray and fast.
And finally, in the last verses, Jesus tries to dispel one more source
of division among his followers as well as us. He uses the
analogy of protecting and preserving wine as it might apply to new ideas
and programs surfacing in the Christian Community. He’s well aware
how difficult it is to give up those of long tradition. The
Lord advises us not to fear augmenting the new; neither despise the old
that have truly proved beneficial over the centuries. It intrigues
me why Christ tells us at least sometimes: “I find the old (wine) better.”
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