Fourth Sunday in Ordinary Time (C)
In high school we were asked to memorize that section from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians (13:1-13). We memorized and delivered it, excited to get a prize and higher marks. Even if we know the text, but do not have that love that Paul is speaking of, we can proudly blow our little trumpets of what we have and what we know, but we will remain uncommitted and unconverted to the life of the Lord. Thus, being the same is worse than having deteriorated, and certainly much worse than not having done any better, for we have not worked on our capabilities. “‘The Amen, the faithful and true witness…. says this: I know your works; I know that you are neither cold nor hot. I wish you were either cold or hot. So, because you are lukewarm, neither hot nor cold, I will spit you out of my mouth. For you say, ‘I am rich and affluent and have no need of anything,’ and yet do not realize that you are wretched, pitiable, poor, blind, and naked…. Be earnest, therefore, and repent” (Rev 3:14-19).
The envy of the Jewish leaders toward Jesus was already escalating. Even His relatives thought that He was crazy, and they also knew that He was far better and wiser than they were. They knew the law, but they have overlooked the Lawgiver and ignored the Spirit of the law. They wanted everybody to know that they were experts of the law so that they could be praised. They always over-moralized even in practical situations, despite the fact that people only needed a little understanding, and much worse they could not even lift a finger to help. The Jewish elders were envious that Jesus was teaching with much knowledge and wisdom, and with authority. As the encyclopedia defines envy “as an emotion that occurs when a person lacks another’s (perceived) superior quality, achievement, or possession and either desires it or wishes that the other lacked it” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Envy), so the Jewish elders were found lacking and resentful of Jesus’ capabilities and wanted to eliminate Him. St. Paul was right when he declared: “If I speak in human and angelic tongues but do not have love, I am a resounding gong or a clashing cymbal…. if I have all faith so as to move mountains but do not have love, I am nothing…. Love is patient, love is kind. It is not jealous, (love) is not pompous, it is not inflated, it is not rude, it does not seek its own interests, it is not quick-tempered, it does not brood over injury, it does not rejoice over wrongdoing but rejoices with the truth. It bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things. Love never fails” (1Cor 13:1-8).
We have a Philippine (Bicolano) love song that describes a man’s love for his beloved. He would give everything that she would ask and would do anything that she would like him to do, only to gain her love, and even if she would slice and chop every part of his body, every part and piece of him would be loving her.
Our Religion is about the second Person of the Blessed Trinity, Jesus Christ, the Word who became man and was humiliated by His own people, the Creator offered for His creatures, cut, broken and crushed under the weight of the cross for our sins. Yet, every part of His body, wounded and cut, showed that He loved us till the end, for His love was not pompous, wordy or airy, but the real love of God who could not bear to see His people abandoned and helpless.
Love is not the most comfortable situation in this world. It is not only gaining or receiving something from the other, but also sharing with, giving to and developing the other as well. We tend to be very selfish though. We want to live in the joy of Jesus’ love, but we do not want the discomfort of giving up things for the sake of the other. We want to be loved dearly, but we only love conveniently. We want Christ-like love, but we don’t want to sacrifice. We want to go to heaven, but we don’t want to walk through Gethsemani and Calvary. Jesus did not bring us comfort, for even before we were formed in the womb God knew us, before we were born He dedicated us, and He appointed us prophets to the nations (cf.Jer 1:4ff).
When we receive Holy Communion we carry this Body of Jesus, cut and broken, and lovingly given to us for food, for only Jesus can fill our emptiness, heal our brokenness and save us from our sins and from the evil of the world. Mary, the Mother of Jesus, is our good example. She carried Jesus as an infant and also carried His cut, crushed and broken Body. Now She carries us, Her children, in Her arms, so that we won’t live without a Mother, and so that we can be worthy of the Father.
Let us, then, leave the path of envy, for it is a road to damnation. Let us also learn from the humility and gentleness of Jesus in the Eucharist, cut and broken, so that we can be made whole. We will thus receive the reward for those who are meek and humble, and find meaning in our Sacrifice and celebration with the Body of Christ, the Church.