22nd Week, Wednesday, Sept 2

1 Cor 3:1-9 / Luke 4:38-44 
Paul talks about ministry: We plant, but God gives the growth. 
Wednesday 1 Corinthians 3:1-9 

Author Irene Champernowne says that her favorite saying was written out for her by an old Arab living in a small mountain village in Lebanon. It reads: "I will set my face to the wind and scatter my seed on high." Irene says she likes the saying because it reminds her that God can do great things with the seed we sow. Our job, therefore, is to have the courage to keep facing the wind and sowing the seed. This is not an easy task, because we rarely see the results of our efforts. "But even if we don't," she adds, "other people do and they are grateful. The seed we sow is our gift to life and God." 
Many a great physician has said the same as Paul says: I give the medicine, God cures, Paul says: "I plant, Apollos waters, God makes it grow". This simple truth has some far-reaching consequences. 
1.      How can there be jealousy and wrangling in the church, when it is not my sermon, my congregation, my counselling but God's grace  that changes people? How can a parish priest solely take credit for the church that is built with parishioners’ money, efforts, projects, bishop’s permission and endorsement using a status and position given by the church?
2.     We are fellow workers with God, comrades in the same firm. Our work is important, our fellow-worker, God, needs us. Someone has to plant, and someone has to water and someone has to weed and we are all paid for   it, according to our share in the work. The doctor gets paid for what God does. And we take the credit for it and let it fuel our jealousy. 

Today's reading sharpens up one of the problems that existed in the Corinthian community. It was a tension between the followers of Paul and of Apollos. It seems that Paul had laid the groundwork of Gospel living as an evangelizer. Apollos followed to elaborate this basic teaching. It seems that he opened new horizons and presented an exciting and perhaps off-beat message. The people were deeply impressed by ApolIos. Paul insists that he laid foundations upon which Apollos built. He planted what another watered. Paul uses this to upbraid the spiritual immaturity of the Corinthians as evidenced by the factions that divided them. The religious "groupies" among them were more dazzled by the procession of messengers than by the core message. In such personality cults, they missed the central figure of all evangelism: the Lord Jesus. If we place our common Lord at our center, we will be able to reconcile our differences. 
What kind of seed are we sowing in our lives, right now, for life and God? Paul writes: "I planted the seed, Apollos watered the plant, but it was God who made the plant grow." 1 Corinthians 3: 6 
If others were to give an honest opinion of us as Christians, would they say that we are different from non-Christians? Or would they say that we are no different from non-Christians, and maybe at times behave in a lesser way than them! In the 1st reading, St. Paul would not accept that Christians in Corinth were behaving like non-Christians and even regressing into behaviours like jealousy and wrangling. They were even dividing themselves into unspiritual clans with slogans like "I am for Paul" and "I am for Apollos".

Obviously, they had forgotten the teaching and example of Jesus of which we saw in the gospel. Jesus loved and cared for the people by teaching them and healing the sick and He restored the spiritual dimension in the lives of the people.

In fact, He Himself highlighted how important the spiritual aspect is when He would go to a lonely place early in the day to pray. People saw how different Jesus was and what an extraordinary life He lived. They saw the spiritual dimension in His life and they experienced God's presence in Him. Jesus showed us how to live life. We cannot live it any lesser.
It is not by chance that the first miracle is in the house and the family of Peter. Peter has to be made firm in his faith. He has to be the guardian of the faith. His mother-in-law was staying with Peter. She was a wonderful mother-in-law. The moment the fever left her, she got up and served them. Luke the physician, notes she was suffering from a major fever. Medical text books at that time grouped fevers into major and minor. Jesus rebuked the fever. Just as he had, the same morning, rebuked the unclean spirit. In his day, people, even the learned professors of medicine, believed that even diseases were the work of the demons. Jesus was fully man, a man of that particular time. Jesus was fully man, not only with a human body, he had a human soul and a human brain. His unconditional divine power and prerogative are clearly and forcefully revealed in this word "rebuke". He used this power not only as a sign of his love for men but in the work of salvation to lead people to accept the faith and the Church he established. So here Jesus strengthens Peter’s faith b giving him the prestige among his own family and people and of his own home town.
It is not right to attribute to human beings what is clearly the work of God. The people are God’s field; the missionaries are collaborators of God in caring for the field. It is an important perspective to maintain. Like Christ in today’s Gospel, Paul did not want to bask in the light of spiritual accomplishment. It is normal to recognize the gifts of priests and ministers who serve. But the parish is not great because of them; nor do they make virtue more visible. They are collaborators of the Lord (and that is no small matter). The principal work is God’s, to whose name belong honor and glory.

Let us pray: Lord our God, we thank you today for Jesus, your Son. He came to heal our wounds and to set us going on the way to you and to one another. Help us in our fumbling, stumbling attempts to continue looking for him and to make his gospel of hope and love come true among us as the good news that your Son is alive among us and that he is our Lord for ever. In Jesus Christ, our Lord. Amen.