23rd Week, Wednesday, Sept 9

1 Cor 7:25-31 / Luke 6:20-26
Paul speaks about life: The time is short.

Buddy Holly rose to fame in the 1950s. The 19-year-old was the first rock star to write, play, and sing his own music. During his 36-month career, he wrote 45 songs. Then a tragic airplane crash brought his promising life to an end.
When Buddy Holly died, six of his songs were on the chart of best-sellers. Commenting on the Buddy Holly story, author Albert Cylwicki says: "If Buddy Holly were alive today, he would probably want to say to us what St. Paul says to the Corinthians in today's reading. 'I tell you, brothers, the time is short."'
In this passage Paul does not speak to celibates per se, neither does he speak to virgins. He speaks to those who are single: men and women. He is convinced that the end of the world, the day of the Lord, is close at hand. Christians know from the prophecies of Jesus: "The time will come - in fact it has come already, when you will be scattered, each going his own way. In the world you will have trouble" (John 16.32). There will be persecutions. In such a situation, the single are better off. They have fewer cares and worries. Fathers should not think of marrying off their daughters. Virgins and unmarried daughters are synonymous. The preparation for the second coming of Christ is a time of prayer and penance, so that all may be ready for the master when he comes.

How are we using the precious bit of time God has given us? "I shall pass through this world but once. Any good thing I can do, or any kindness that I can show any human being, let me do it now and not defer it. For I shall not pass this way again."  Stephen Grellet 
Luke states the beatitudes together with their opposites, to make their meaning doubly clear. How blessed are you who are poor, the kingdom of God is yours. And the opposite: Alas for you who are rich, you are having your consolation now. The rich feel no need for God. They have all they want. Only he who feels the need for God as his Saviour, will wait for the other world where God will be his all. Feeling no need of even the idea of God in this life, the vision of God, however beatific it may be, does not stir in him the least desire. He who finds all the satisfaction, he desires in this present world, finds the world to come an unwanted intrusion into his present contentment. Who does not know anymore, what hunger means, hunger of the stomach or the soul, needs nothing to satisfy him. Who has forgotten what tears are, does not need him who can wipe away every tear. He would have to become a child again to feel joy. The last woe is meant for the man of whom all speak well. He did not stand, perhaps, for what is right.
The word "happy" has as its root word "hap" which is defined as turning out well or favoured by fortune. So, it means that when things turn out well or when one is favoured by fortune, then one is happy. But if it is otherwise then one will be unhappy. So, it seems that happiness is very much subjected to what happens around us. And what happens around us will determine whether we are happy or not. Maybe that might be the reason why people search in vain for happiness, since it seems to be so subjective and relative.
The 1st reading may sound rather stoic, or at least it seems to tell us to try to be indifferent and to be unaffected by whatever that is happening around us.

Yet the heart of the matter is that St. Paul was telling the Corinthians not to look for lasting happiness in this passing world. Yes, this world as we know is passing away. There is an eternal "happiness" that will not be subjected by the rise or fall of fortunes or whether things turn out well or not. Hence the word "happy" in the gospel passage has to be understood as "blessing" and it is a blessing which comes from God. God's blessing does not depend on His mood or how He feels about us. God will always bless us because He loves us. Yes, God loves us with an everlasting love and our eternal "happiness" is already assured if we keep on faithfully loving God and others. Any other means of achieving happiness is not going to last.
Let us pray: Lord, God of the rich and the poor, let the message of Jesus your Son strike us and shake us up from our certainties and securities. Indeed, may we use our riches of mind and heart and faith and goods in the service of the poor, our power for the benefit of others, our abundance to be shared and to get us out of our self-satisfaction, our happiness to console and bring your joy, not ours. Make us poor in pride, hungry for justice, weeping for the evil we have caused. And let people insult us when we do not live up to the gospel of Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen. God bless.