1 Corinthians 15:12-20
Jesus journeyed from one town and village to another, preaching and proclaiming the good news of the Kingdom of God. Accompanying him were the Twelve and some women who had been cured of evil spirits and infirmities . . . Luke 8:1 – 2a
This week, we have been treated with some of the more memorable passages from the New Testament. Paul’s first letter to the newly formed faith community of the city of Corinth is a masterpiece of praise and gratitude, scolding and reprimands, instructions of what tears down community and what builds it up. He gives opinions and he gives doctrine. It is a timeless message written by someone whose heart is wounded by the wrong-doing of a people, the divisions that this has caused and whom he loves deeply and without condition.
The Gospels for this week are taken from the evangelist, St. Luke. They show a Jesus who is compassionate and caring, steadfast in his mission, lecturing when he needs to and forgiving when appropriate. The portrait of Jesus that St. Luke is painting for us is one that will help us understand the Jesus who will hang on the Cross, forgive his torturers, welcome the repentant thief and gently offer his spirit to his Loving Father as he dies.
Today’s Scriptures help us to deepen our insights into the person of Jesus, his mission while he was with us and a new formulation of what constitutes Good News for us now, as expressed by Paul the Apostle to the Gentiles.
Jesus was an itinerant preacher. He proclaimed the Good News of the Kingdom of God. He had followers which included women who supported his mission. All of his followers were flawed. We know that the Apostles fought among themselves, one sold him out, another denied him, all doubted him and none understood his mission and message. The Apostles became great leaders, yes, even martyrs. The women were ordinary people who had had their problems and challenges. Yet, they overcame them when they encountered the forgiving Jesus. Their gratitude for this transformation led to their generosity.
In the first reading, Paul helps us understand that the Good News that Jesus preached is not just the Kingdom of God, but now also the Resurrection of Jesus from the dead. If we do not believe that Jesus died and rose from the dead, then everything else we do, our faith, our sacraments and our life in community, is useless.
We are invited to sit with these insights that are imbedded in the Scriptures for today’s Mass. May we too be transformed and may we too be generous with God’s gifts!
Fr. Clemente Barrón, C.P. is a member of Immaculate Conception Community in Chicago, Illinois.