Saturday, September 16, 2006

Saturday word

Pope St. Cornelius & Bp. Cyprian, martyrs (16 Sep 2006) 1Co 10. 14-22; Ps 116; Lk 6. 43-49
Homily of Fr. Paul Panaretos, S.J.
Freedom For

I take my cue from the response we echoed during the psalm between our readings: To you, Lord, I will offer a sacrifice of praise. We direct ourselves and our gratitude to the Lord for the goodness in which we bask. The Lord is the source even of my own accomplishments.

This joyful focus on our Creator and Lord helps us appreciate St. Paul’s exhortation to the Corinthians we just heard. He was keenly aware that among the Corinthians were two types, whom he called the strong and the weak.

The strong looked down on the weak, worry-ers about particular practices like the ones Paul addressed: sex; marriage; celibacy; diet; and ritual meals--both idol worship and eucharist. The weak needed practices different from the rest of the world. Both groups were not free, empowered, as Paul taught freedom in Christ.

The weak were not free because of their insecurity. The strong were not free because they credited themselves with achieving their security. Truly free Christians realize that God has embraced them in Christ by their Spirit and not that they have captured God.

Those secure in their relationship with Christ--the strong--ought to build up those who obsess about correct practices. The strong grow truly free the more they praise God in Christ rather than their own achievements.

St. Paul warned those who thought themselves free to take care not to participate in practices which might involve them with powers over which they had no control: not to participate with demons, in Paul’s language. Precisely what martyrs, Cornelius and Cyprian, refused.

One ought to call on the Lord and discern with the Lord’s Spirit what unites us with the Lord. One ought to call on the Lord in any need, but not as if beckoning a servant. Our petitions to the Lord make sense if we first shape our lives as sacrifices of praise, as witnesses for Jesus. Our lives will build up others, that is we will seek the good of others before our own.

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