January 30, 2022
by Eileen Burke-Sullivan
Creighton University's Division of Mission And Ministry
click here for photo and information about the writer

Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time
Lectionary: 72

Jeremiah 1:4-5, 17-19
Psalm 71:1-2, 3-4, 5-6, 15-17
Luke 4:21-30

Praying Ordinary Time

In this cold “Ordinary Time” of winter in the northern hemisphere it is a great blessing to hear Paul’s letters to the Corinthians week after week – challenging us to apprehend faith as a practical call to be with and for Jesus. 

  • Practical – that is practiced, enacted, something that we are about . . . that we do.
  • Call – an invitation to life so deep and so total that we are drawn to maturity, to wisdom, to compassion by responding generously.
  • To be with – to companion, to support, to care for, to see the world his way and to act like him.
  • And for – to give all that we have and are to belong to his way, his work, his Being.

In the first and third readings of this lectionary this week we are reminded of the ultimate cost of this kind of faith – the ultimate cost in this life but NOT the ultimate reward – which is eternal joy beyond our imagination.

But the reading of Paul’s letter to Corinth tells of us the ordinary cost in terms of a long definition of love.  Almost anyone who has been to a Church Wedding in a Christian Church of nearly any denomination has heard this definition often, so “familiarity can breed contempt” as the old saying goes.  It takes grace for the passage to awaken us to the four challenges listed above.

To follow this practical call to be with and for Jesus we learn slowly but surely how to love by doing it.  Year after year I ponder these words seeking for yet a deeper and clearer way.  This year what leapt out at me was the phrase “rejoices with the truth.”

In a world riddled with false claims, distortions of real situations, self-serving propaganda, perjury, in short with lying, we hear that love rejoices with the truth.  Why is this?  Because Truth is Love and Love is Truth, and both are names of the God we worship.

A spiritual director once told me that if anyone wants to tell you a truth about yourself, realize that it cannot be the truth if the person speaking does not love you.  To speak truth, to walk in truth, to hold to the truth in the face of lies, to companion others only with truth – that is with genuine love – is a practical answer to the call to be with and for Jesus. 

Paul also reminds us that love will never fail, so truth with never fail.  Lies are practices of hatred and they will fail inevitably.  We must walk closely with Jesus to fully understand that in this life.  To see that those who lie will also kill, abandon, use the worst forms of violence, do everything to corrupt the innocent or unknowing is to know that such behavior is finally and absolutely death. 

But Love (and Truth) is life and never ends.

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