Seventh Sunday in Ordinary Time
The First Book of Samuel is the source of this weekend’s initial reading in the Liturgy of the Word. Ancient in origin, scholars trace its beginnings to six centuries before Christ.
This reading focuses on David, whom the Hebrews regarded as the divinely commissioned, and divinely protected, leader, without peer, of the people.
Also revealed is the development of the people, and of the kingdom of Israel. It was not all a story of sweetness and life. Plentiful are accounts of struggle, intrigue, and perplexity.
Through it all, basically, God guided the people. Relying upon this guidance, the people would survive and flourish, and God’s representative, namely David, would survive.
For the second reading, the Church presents St. Paul’s First Epistle to the Corinthians. This passage also is a story of development, not of a nation, such as the kingdom of Israel, but of human hearts. Tarry not with the earthly but aspire to spiritual good.
The Apostle Paul is remembered, justifiably, as the great evangelizer of Early Christianity, who took the message of Jesus far and wide.
Many heard him, and followed him: Titus, Timothy and Phoebe, for example, and they in turn became legends in the Church.
Others, it must be noted, ignored Paul, or rejected him. Indeed, he was resented so much in some circles that he died a martyr.
His appeal to turn to Christ meant turning away from all that seemed natural and obvious. This fact was nowhere more evident than among the Corinthians.
St. Luke’s Gospel supplies the last reading. This gospel is the favorite biblical source for Catholics committed to the social doctrine of the Church because it is blunt and uncompromising as it calls for total conversion to Christ, as conversion means taking every step to redeem the world by bringing the mercy and justice of the Lord to real life.
Luke’s idea of conversion was revolutionary, because it demanded not only absolute dedication but an acuteness in perception and a subjection of instinct.
Love your enemies! Offer the other cheek! Give to everyone who asks of you! Do unto others as you would have them do to you!
These words are hard. They were as hard for Luke’s first audience as they always have been for humans, including people today. Many say that they do not make sense. They certainly are not the way of the world.
The bottom line is that genuine Christianity very often actually runs against the current, pursuing the spiritual treasure of the Gospel rather than the presumptions of earthly life.
In less than two weeks, the Church will observe Ash Wednesday, calling us to Lent.
Lent is much more than “giving up candy.” It is about achieving an absolute transformation in life, in assessing reality, making judgments and behavior.
Such transformation was not easy or quick for the Hebrews of Samuel’s time, or for the Corinthians to whom St. Paul wrote, or the Christians who first read the Gospel of Luke.
Simply stated, honest discipleship is hard. It calls for a “revolution” of heart, mind, and action, revolving from selfishness and earthly assumptions, indeed even instincts, to uniting with the Lord in every respect, in every thought, every sword, and every deed.
The Church offers Lent as a process to accomplish this transformation, this “revolution” in heart and soul.
By using Lent as a tool, an incentive, and an aide, the Church urges us to this absolute commitment to, and union with, Christ, appealing to us to follow the Lord, to redeem ourselves, and, in the process, to redeem the world around us.
As we approach Lent, we should ask ourselves what is its purpose and what does it mean, truly, profoundly, personally? Ash Wednesday is coming.
The best news. Delivered to your inbox.
Subscribe to our mailing list today.