22 June, 2017. Thursday, Week 11

Saint Paulinus, bishop; Saints John Fisher and Thomas More

1st Reading: 2 Corinthians 11:1-11

Paul asks for their patience; he will not be a financial burden to them

I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! I feel a divine jealousy for you, for I promised you in marriage to one husband, to present you as a chaste virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by its cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. For if someone comes and proclaims another Jesus than the one we proclaimed, or if you receive a different spirit from the one you received, or a different gospel from the one you accepted, you submit to it readily enough I think that I am not in the least inferior to these super-apostles. I may be untrained in speech, but not in knowledge; certainly in every way and in all things we have made this evident to you.

Did I commit a sin by humbling myself so that you might be exalted, because I proclaimed God’s good news to you free of charge? I robbed other churches by accepting support from them in order to serve you. And when I was with you and was in need, I did not burden anyone, for my needs were supplied by the friends who came from Macedonia. So I refrained and will continue to refrain from burdening you in any way. As the truth of Christ is in me, this boast of mine will not be silenced in the regions of Achaia. And why? Because I do not love you? God knows I do!

Gospel: Matthew 6:7-15

Our prayer must not be too wordy and must include a spirit of forgiveness

Jesus said to his disciples,
“When you are praying, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do; for they think that they will be heard because of their many words. Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

“Pray then in this way: Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name. Your kingdom come. Your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts, as we also have forgiven our debtors. And do not bring us to the time of trial, but rescue us from the evil one. For if you forgive others their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you; but if you do not forgive others, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”


When to clear the air

To make sense of the first reading, it seems that some of the Corinthian Christians accused Paul of merely “prattling” words, dismissing him as just a talker, not a doer. They must have complained that he should be more tolerant and patient towards their faults. Paul does not back down but claims the right and privilege of speaking openly to them. He lashes out at roving preachers who want to undermine the Corinthians’ loyalty to himself and adopt a different vision of Jesus. He dubs them as troublemakers, “super-apostles,” and implies that these so-called apostles were making a good living off the people, and treating the preaching ministry as a profitable career. By contrast, he and Barnabas were prepared to work manually for their living (1 Cor 9) so that the gospel message was untarnished by personal gain and could be accepted as God’s pure word.

Paul’s plain speech cleared the air and purified the people’s hearts. He invites them to be decisive, not sitters-on-the-fence, to make their language “Yea” and “Nay” (2 Cor 1:18) and genuinely dedicate their lives to Christ, afresh. Here he shows us the best route to forgiveness, wiping the slate clean so that all can begin over again, this time with more wisdom and maturity on both sides. Using an Old Testament image to describe this new life, he compares them to a bride coming to her marriage, full of joyful enthusiasm to be united with Christ. This imagery from the prophet Hosea (Hos 2:16), was developed by Jeremiah (Jer 2:2), Second Isaiah (Isa 54:5) and the Song of Songs, and is echoed in various ways in the preaching of Jesus.

Paul’s words must have had a good effect on the Corinthians and brought at least some of them back to their first fervour, as a “chaste virgin” presented in marriage to Christ. By forgiving one another each of us mirrors the reconciling role of Elijah and of Paul. We announce the coming of God’s kingdom when we receive and distribute the “daily bread” he gives us.

The Lord’s Prayer

Jesus’ teaching of the Lord’s Prayer is found in two gospels, Matthew and Luke. In Matthew’s gospel He prefaces the prayer by calling on us not to use many words, not to babble, when praying to God, as the pagans do. Jesus is referring to the pagan practice of bombarding the gods with various formulae, intended to force the gods to behave in a way that is favourable to humankind. The disciples of Jesus are not to relate to his heavenly Father in that way. God is not manipulated by our many words. Rather, as the opening petitions of the Lord’s Prayer suggests, we begin by surrendering to whatever God may want.

What matters is God’s name, God’s kingdom, God’s will. We don’t try to force God to do what we want; we surrender to what God wants. After doing that, as the prayer indicates, we acknowledge our dependence on God, for our basic needs–for food for the day, for forgiveness, for strength when our faith is put to the test. The Lord’s Prayer is powerful in its simplicity. It is not simply one prayer among many; it is a teaching on how to pray always.

Saint Paulinus

Paulinus (354-431), born Pontius Meropius Anicius Paulinus, was a Roman writer and senator and governor of Campania (c.380) who, after the assassination of the emperor Gratian, abandoned his career, was baptized as a Christian, and became bishop of Nola in Campania. His renunciation of his wealth and station in favor of an ascetic and philanthropic life was admired by many of his contemporaries, including Augustine, Jerome, Martin, and Ambrose, who venerated him as a saint.

Saints John Fisher and Thomas More, martyrs

John Fisher (1469, 1535) and Thomas More (1478 – 1535) were both martyred for their refusal to recognize the king as head of the church in England. John Fisher, who studied at Cambridge University before becoming bishop of Rochester, was a renowned preacher. Thomas More, an English lawyer, social philosopher, author, statesman and Renaissance humanist, was Chancellor of England under King Henry VIII. Both opposed King Henry’s annulment from Catherine of Aragon, and refused the Act of Supremacy (1534) and were decapitated in 1535.


Join the Discussion

Keep the following in mind when writing a comment

  • Your comment must include your full name, and email. (email will not be published). You may be contacted by email, and it is possible you might be requested to supply your postal address to verify your identity.
  • Be respectful. Do not attack the writer. Take on the idea, not the messenger. Comments containing vulgarities, personalised insults, slanders or accusations shall be deleted.
  • Keep to the point. Deliberate digressions don't aid the discussion.
  • Including multiple links or coding in your comment will increase the chances of it being automati cally marked as spam.
  • Posts that are merely links to other sites or lengthy quotes may not be published.
  • Brevity. Like homilies keep you comments as short as possible; continued repetitions of a point over various threads will not be published.
  • The decision to publish or not publish a comment is made by the site editor. It will not be possible to reply individually to those whose comments are not published.