Skip to main content

But now ...


Do you not know that the unjust will not inherit the Kingdom of God? ... That is what some of you used to be; but now you have had yourselves washed, you were sanctified, you were justified in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ and in the Spirit of our God.
—St Paul's First Letter to the Corinthians 6:11

"But now ..." what words of comfort to us sinners. St. Paul reminds us that before we were plunged into the death of Christ by Baptism, we were defined by our sins. "That is what some of you used to be." But now, though sinners we remain and continue to sin the face of grace, we are no longer defined by them. Rather than conforming to an image of death, we have been restored to the image of Christ in which we were made.


St Paul by his "but now" urgently reminds us that we are unworthy of sinning; that is not our nature, that is not who we are. We are sons and daughters of God, washed, sanctified and justified. By Christ's death upon the cross we have been made free, free to be fully human restored, free to be in communion with God and all his creatures. We are free to be one people again, recognizing the dignity of every person, recognizing Christ in every sister and brother. That is why St Paul is so concerned with division in the Corinthian church, and why Saint James in Sunday's reading was so concerned about distinguishing between rich and poor. That was the "old man" of sin and death, cast off by Baptism.

St Paul list is the unjust to show just how bad the division can get—Do not be deceived; neither fornicators nor idolaters nor adulterers nor boy prostitutes nor sodomites nor thieves nor the greedy nor drunkards nor slanderers nor robbers will inherit the Kingdom of God.—Sin causes division by its very nature; St Paul emphasizes that our sins label us, separate us, "but now!" now we are united by the Holy Spirit. Now we are one in the Body of Christ. St Paul knows, as Jesus taught, a kingdom divided against itself, a kingdom of the unjust, will not stand.

This is why St Paul exhorts the Christians at Corinth to lay aside their grievances with each other if it means division. He encourages frank and honest discussion, arbitration between members of the Church, but if it comes to causing splits and fights he would rather they "put up with injustice" and "let [themselves] be cheated."

Jesus models a preventative sign against division in his calling forth of the apostles. Yes, the twelve ascend the mountain to be annointed, but immediately after Jesus goes with them to the crowd. The apostleship, and the inheritors of the apostles, the bishops, are not a sign of division, an elite, but a sign of unity that brings the whole Church together as one people of God receiving the Word of God. Like the Corinthians, we can be tempted to find division and cast blame on brother and sister. That's going back to the days of Jew and Greek, slave and free, male and female, barbarian and Scythian, circumcised and uncircumcised. That would be as when we turned our back on the Cross to wander in the land of unlikeness.

But now? Now we are free for Christ is all and in all. Amen.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Daily Examen

The Daily Examen, bringing the events and encounters of your day to prayer, is an ancient practice exhorted nigh universally among the Catholic spiritual writers I've read. Those who write about the Examen consider it an indispensable tool of growth in the spiritual life, and so all should strive to make it a part of their spiritual exercises. As such, it is one of the spiritual practices to be done by Servants of the Secret Fire.

The examen is sometimes also referred to as the Examination of Conscience, but I tend to avoid that term when talking about the Daily Examen, for the Examination of Conscience is a term I associate with preparation for Sacramental Reconciliation. One should make a thorough examination of one's conscience, especially with regard to one's sins before Reconciliation, and reflecting on one's sins is a part of the Daily Examen, but it is not limited to that, while the Examination of Conscience before Reconciliation would not include all that the …

The Beauty of Lady Poverty

In which the Pilgrim confesses a bit of a crush on Lady Poverty, considers the via media, and venerates the true poverty of self in the martyrs Cosmas and Damian.

They counted all as loss in order to know Christ and to have a share in his sufferings, conforming himself themselves to his death.
—Cf. Phil 3:8, 10, Entrance Antiphon, Mass for a Single Martyr

Ah, Hell!

When Jesus is asked  “Lord, will only a few people be saved?” He answers “Strive to enter through the narrow door" nicely dodging the question for those who love precision about such things. (Lk 13:23 & 24) John in his vision strives to see how many have been saved while granted a glimpse of heaven, but is likewise thwarted a census when the number is that "which no one could count." (Rev 7:9) Was it a small fraction of the seething multitude of the total human population over time? Was it everybody? No straight answers are offered.

Stuck in our desire to be in the know about who and how many will be saved, we're often presented with two viewpoints well illustrated by two early theologians. Origen erred on the side of Universalism, that in the long run EVERYBODY gets saved (apokatastasis), even the fallen angels, including Satan. So powerful is God's mercy and the saving power of the Cross that no creature can resist it. This opinion was condemned by the Ch…