23rd Week, Saturday, Sept 12

Paul talks about the body of Christ: We are one body. 

The Hollywood actor Martin Sheen was in India working in the movie Gandhi. One day some kids were hanging on the back of the taxi he was riding in. He says: "I looked out and saw their faces . . .they looked like old people, teeth gone, bugs in their hair. I suddenly knew what I had to do. We stopped the car and got them inside." 

At that moment God gave Sheen a great grace. Sheen says: "I saw . . . what I had been taught as a boy. We're all part of the mystical body of Christ. We are all united. It is not just confined to the Catholic Church." That helped bring Martin Sheen back into the Church after a 16-year absence. 


The issue with which Paul deals in today's reading is Christian participation in idol worship. Christians were a small minority in Corinth. By necessity they had to get on well with their pagan neighbours. They had to be the  same in dress, language, social customs and culture. Yet they could not take part in pagan sacrifices and accept the "prasad". The excuse - idols are nothing, the “prasad” (In India, the food given by the priest after a temple worship) is just ordinary food and those services simply are for social or professional reasons - does not work here. The liberal argument was logically flawless. If idolatry is bogus and idols are simply pieces of stone, there could be no harm in joining  To do so was a logical extension of eating the meat sacrificed to idols.

Paul refuses so simplistic an argument. Participation in pagan rituals had a subtle influence. Gradually, by taking part in these cults, a person assimilates attitudes that its adherents share and begins to distance himself or herself either from the Christian assembly or the Christian mindset. The danger Paul sees is one of only partial immersion in the Christian mystery. A dabbling in pagan rites can lead to an embrace of a pluralistic potpourri of religious attitudes that would make Christianity either purely attitudinal or simply one more variant of a common religiosity. 


The  Christians know the Eucharist means for them a double communion. A holy one-making with God through Christ who is the bread oflife. Just as bread is the source of our life, we become one body with Christ. This is the faith of Christians. This is the reality. But he who partakes in idol worship lives a fiction. An untruth does not unite us. The pagan too must know that we are different and respect this difference. This is an act of faith for us: we show our difference; to be different we owe both to our pagan neighbours and to God.  


Do we see Christ in the needy in our midst? "Whenever you did this for one of the least important of these brothers of mine, you did it for me!" Matthew25:40 


 If we go by the adage of what we eat is what we are, then we will certainly be careful about what goes into our mouths or what we consume. Simply speaking, what we eat, we will become, at least health wise. Similarly, if what we read is what we are, then we will also need to be selective in what we are reading.

Because if what we eat has its effects on us physically, then what we read will also have its effect on us spiritually. And the fruits that we produce, whether in our actions, or in our words or thoughts, is a reflection on what we are physically and spiritually.

As Jesus said in the gospel, every tree can be told by its own fruit. And for a man's words flow out of what fills his heart. The 1st readings tells us that the blessing cup that we bless is a communion with the blood of Christ, and the bread that we break is a communion with the body of Christ. Hence at every Mass, we read and listen to the Word of God and we enter into communion with Christ at Holy Communion. May what we read and listen conform us to be more Christ-like and may Christ make His home in our hearts as we receive Him in Holy Communion.


The Lord speaks about the solid foundations of our life. If the foundation of our faith is the Lord Jesus, the foundation of our Christian life is discipleship—putting His words into practice. The Lord is stating that spiritual, mental or emotional adherence to the Gospel is not sufficient and will prove to be evanescent unless a person starts to slowly shape his or her discipleship into daily life.

Reflection: What every good teacher aims at is that his pupils reach maturity and leave him with a solid foundation. Both these our Lord tries to achieve with his apostles. Fruit is the state of maturity in a plant. The good deeds are the fruits that ripen on a healthy tree. From the fruit we know what kind of a tree it.  It is not the outer appearance, words or promises, not grand programmes, or emotions that are the mark of the sincerity of a man. The measuring rod that is going to be applied is good deeds. Good intentions are of no value, if there is no reliability. The solid foundation upon which the edifice of a Christian life has to be erected is faith. The faith like the foundation shows the design of the building. Every pillar and wall will have its footing there and it goes down to solid rock and is held together. The reading of the next two weeks is about faith. Jesus explains to his apostles what faith means, what it can do, and educates his chosen apostles to a living strong faith.


Let us Pray:  Lord our God, let the word of your Son sink into our hearts so deeply and so firmly that all of our life is marked by it. Let no trial or doubt or fad or fear be powerful enough to shake that faith; for in you we trust and on you we rely on account of him who is the living proof that you love us and want us to be happy, Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God bless.