Daily Reflection
September 10th, 2008

Howie Kalb, S.J.

Jesuit Community
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College students oftentimes join Fraternities and Sororities as a chance to make close friends, have a great social life and make contacts helpful financially and otherwise in the years ahead. Most of us have tried that in college and we know it works. Since it worked so well there, some people are motivated to join organizations, movements and work places that promise achievement of these goals. Have you ever noticed how often the quest of these three goals made a life after college a disaster for a classmate or friend?

There is nothing wrong in having money, fun and a good reputation, but Jesus noted the potential weakness in this regard for the people of his day. That’s why Jesus adds the antithesis to each of his beatitudes concerning what is required for happiness. There is always the danger for the collateral damage.

To “Jesus’ woes”, we might add another example. If the motive a person has for changing churches or parishes is the opportunity for new friends, relaxed observance, entertaining services and more of whatever, he/she could be badly disappointed. Perhaps the antithesis may not be felt immediately or even in this life. But for the person who is motivated by these priorities, the opposite reactions might well happen here or hereafter.

This could be the reason for Paul’s message to the Corinthians in today’s first reading. Paul might have seen this same ambition in some of the converts at Corinth. Notice, his message focuses on “God’s call” (7:24)…on conversion. He encourages people converting to keep their present lifestyle. He says it’s only his opinion but he thinks that it’s best not to try to find a different way of life other than pursuing the ultimate goal of reaching eternal life.

Paul’s admonition makes good sense only if a person’s choice to change the way one lives is made in pursuit and expectation of gaining heaven. This interpretation of today’s epistle is aptly expressed in the footnote of the New American Bible.

“The above principle of retention of one’s state applies also to both the
unmarried and the married because, in the light of the second coming of Christ, it is not the state that is important but rather the use of it in a spirit of sacrifice… In this way all things are made subservient to the supreme end of preparedness for Christ’s coming in judgment.”
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