1Cor 5:1-8; Ps 5:5-7,12; Lk 6:6-11
Blessed are those who mourn. The Divine Teacher describes the blessedness of those who follow him. As disciples of Christ we mourn, we grieve, and we are sad over the fact that injustice and evil still influence our world and poison our hearts. The only thing that a saint regrets is that he did not have a conversion sooner; indeed, some of our precious life has been wasted. We who are made in the image and likeness of God do not delight in wickedness. We are repulsive to those who do evil, and the arrogant cannot stand to be near our humility. From the Lord Jesus we have learned to hate sin and love sinners. All falsehood is abhorrent to the ears of the Holy One, and all who love violence and lies cannot bear the fire of His Love. It is the LORD who has become the refuge of all who love His Name and seek to do His Will. In the LORD alone can we be glad and exult forever and ever. It is, nothing less than, tough love that we hear through the teaching of Saint Paul against the incest boasted about in the Corinthian Church. The Lord Jesus suffered the slings and arrows of outrageous fortune; those who were afraid that he was making God too compassionate constantly condemned him. In our Eucharist, we are strengthened with the daily bread needed to remain at peace when all around us the lie seems victorious.
Saint Paul displays his fatherly anger in this part of the first letter to the Corinthians. He is strong in his condemnation of incest, and he is embarrassed that this vice is not even appropriate behavior among the unbelieving and corrupt Corinthians. This shame is magnified when we consider that the entire Empire recognized the sexual corruption of this port city in using a Greek verb that meant to “act as the Corinthians act.” This righteous anger is fueled by the fact that the members of the Body of Christ in Corinth considered their toleration of incest to be virtuous. They boasted in their tolerance of sin. Such boasting abounds even in our own day. To say the least and to quote Saint Paul: “Your boasting is not appropriate.” Indeed, we can boast only in the Cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. Sin is something of which we repent; it is not something of which we boast. It is the mystery of unselfish love and sacrificial service that reveals God’s grace abounding in our lives not our tolerance of sin and selfishness. His final rhetorical move in this passionate pastoral response to the problems of his beloved Corinthian Church is to summon his readers back into the mystery of the Paschal Lamb. It is the triumph of love over selfishness that is definitive in the death and resurrection of the Lord Jesus. Because of his sacrifice the Lord Jesus reveals the true nature of God. He breaks himself open and pours himself out so that old yeast, the yeast of malice and wickedness, could be replaced with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth. Because of the Cross of Christ we can be sincere and truthful in all our relationships. Now, all our loving is respectful and just, because it fulfills the Lord’s command and reveals his passionate love and tenderness.
The Lord Jesus willingly took on the injustice of the scribes and Pharisees who were enraged by his compassionate healing on the Sabbath. Christ even tried to reason with his unjust accusers when he asked, “Is it lawful to do good on the Sabbath rather than to do evil, to save life rather than destroy it?” This striking question did not penetrate his audience. They were not interested in why the Lord Jesus cured the man with a withered hand; they were only concerned with the fact that the Lord Jesus did cure him, and he did so on the Sabbath. How could he work a miracle on the Sabbath? How could he command the man to do something on the Sabbath, something he could have done any other day? Making someone’s need more important than the customs surrounding the Sabbath observance was completely out of the question. The Lord Jesus is quite willing to suffer the rejection and persecution that would result from this miracle. He brought a whole new understanding of religion into the world. This treasure of wisdom and knowledge about the Father and his will for us was regarded as a threat to, and total disrespect for, the way the scribes and Pharisees understood God and his ways among us. It was this conflict that found its ultimate resolution in the mystery of the cross. God, in Christ, rejoices to suffer for us every injustice and insult that could be thrown at him. It is at this Liturgy that we are summoned to offer nothing less.