Homily of Rev. Paul D. Panaretos, S.J.
As Though Not
Luke moved his gospel along by means of speeches and soliloquies. Zachary, Mary, Simeon Jesus and others gave voice to God’s way of upsetting the measures of the world to reveal God’s consolation of Israel made new, which Mary sang in her Magnificat early in the gospel./1/
Jesus revealed that consolation of God in his words of blessing on the poor and hungry of the world. Jesus called hearers of his word not to a spiritualistic attitude but to be attentive to God’s new way.
Human life hurls ambiguities at us with an exhausting consistency. Their consistency distracts us from God’s consolation. How are we to respond? St. Paul reminded the Corinthians that no simple solutions existed, which they preferred--as do many of us. No better treatment exists than Paul’s response to sexual relations./2/
The Corinthians had distorted the gospel Paul preached to them. They interpreted it by slogans:
All of us have knowledge/3/; food for the stomach, the stomach for food/4/; and, it is better not to [have relations with] a woman./5/ Paul began with their slogans but disagreed with there simplistic meaning. Yes, God is doing a new thing in the world, but we are in the world and cannot flee from it.
To live by a slogan is to consider one thing as ultimate and to discount everything else. St. Paul’s words, the world in its present form is passing away, means that no transitory thing is ultimate, only God is ultimate.
From both words and example of Jesus as well as counsel from people filled with the Spirit of Jesus, like Paul, our Christian vocation is to use the world "as though not." Because the world in its present form is passing away, ours is not to abuse it--the New American translation renders his words not use it fully. We abuse the world when we treat it as ultimate. Christians do not treat it as ultimate; instead we remember by our actions that God is ultimate, God who is doing a new thing in us and for our sake.
1. Luke 1.46-55. Simeon was...awaiting the consolation of Israel, and the holy Spirit was upon him (Luke 2.25).
2. The verses today close Chapter 7. Reading the entire chapter makes St. Paul’s response more accessible.
3. 1Corinthians 8.1.
4. 1Corinthians 6.13.
5. 1Corinthians 7.1.
Wiki-image by AJ Alfieri-Crispin of the Apostle Paul is used according to Creative Commons Attribution and ShareAlike 2.0.