Job 7:1-4, 6-7
1 Corinthians 9:16-19, 22-23
During this jubilee year of Paul the apostle today’s second reading gives us great insight into his person. The Gospel was precious to Paul. He was not ashamed of this good news. He knew personally the power and wisdom of its message. Like Jeremiah of old, the Gospel becomes a fire in Paul’s bones and he is compelled to proclaim it. I remember studying the Scriptures in Israel, Greece and Egypt as a part of my Masters degree at our theologate, the Catholic Theological Union. While visiting Egypt, the Egyptian children used to run up to us shouting, "backsheesh!" This is an Arabic word for begging that literally means, "share the wealth." Pope Paul VI in the Magna Charta of evangelization Evangelii Nuntiadi wrote, "The Gospel is not something we impose on people. People have a right to hear good news." The late Holy Father saw the Gospel as an eternal treasure that people have a right to. Paul, also, was desperate about making the Gospel known because all deserve its riches.
Paul so wanted people to know the riches of the Gospel that he became "all things to all people." Some would consider this people pleasing or being codependent. Paul was simply behaving how ever he could to work with people beginning at their level of understanding and approach to worship so that they could "be saved." As a missionary I meet liberals, conservatives, traditionalists, charismatics, Marianists and every other brand of Catholics that exists. My role is not to change them into what I am, but to find common ground with them. Then the door opens to inspire them to be the best they can be. Often this requires that I swallow my spiritual pride and lay aside the "flavor" of Catholicism that I adhere to. Missionaries are invited to accept and identify with people as they are for the sake of the Gospel. This is a great challenge, but has borne fruit.
Mark’s Gospel tells us that Peter’s mother-in-law went from fever to fervor because of the touch of Jesus. She went from being passive to a passionate servant. Because of Jesus’ touch we too have a new energy, a new fire, and we are compelled to share the treasure that is Jesus. If we listen closely, we will hear the world crying out, "backsheesh!, backsheesh!" Paul gives us a wonderful example of how to share the Gospel effectively and fervently.
Fr. Cedric Pisegna, C.P. is a missionary preacher, author of 12 books and creator of the TV program Live with Passion! airing in many cities. You can learn more about his ministry at: http://www.frcedric.org/