13th Sunday after Pentecost, Aug. 12, 2018. 1 Cor 16:13-24

What shall we take away from today’s epistle reading? Let’s focus on verses 13 and 14, “Be watchful, stand firm in your faith, be courageous, be strong. Let all that you do be done in love.”

St. Paul’s admonition to the Corinthians is equally applicable to us today.

We must be vigilant so that our spiritual liberty may not be endangered so that the fine edge of our spirit may remain sharp and keen. This is done by being spiritually alert and not compromising with anything in the culture around us, by not playing with any temptations that would make us less sensitive to spiritual things.

We can be clear and strong about our deep convictions, we can be firm in professing our faith, yet it can be so easy to compromise our convictions and our faith at the marginal point and it is usually at those margins of our lives that danger lurks.

Not only are we to be watchful, but we are to hold fast to our faith. We should defend our faith with conviction and with courage, not shrugging our shoulders and saying “whatever” when challenged about some one or other of the Church’s teachings. This means knowing and understanding those teachings, especially on controversial matters. With this kind of conviction we can grow in Christian character.

With this past week’s news about the dioceses in Pennsylvania, it is tempting to want to throw up our hands in dismay, wondering if there will ever be an end to all of this. It may be tempting even to want to leave the Church. It is at times such as these that we need to reaffirm our faith in Jesus Christ, to recall that the Catholic Church, even with its human faults and failings, is still the Church established by Jesus. The history of the Catholic Church has many dark times in it but the Church continues on because Jesus Christ is always present. He sends his Holy Spirit to guide the Church, its leaders and its members on the way of salvation.

In addition, St. Paul writes, we must do everything out of love for our neighbor.

It is a loving thing to want to share the truths of our Catholic faith with others. Therefore it must be done in a loving way – Not argumentatively, not angrily, not with hatred or disdain, but lovingly and kindly, always respecting the other’s person’s prerogative to disagree with us.

This is the admonition of that same St. Paul who wrote earlier in this first letter to the Corinthians, “Though I speak in the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I am a noisy gong or a clanging cymbal.” “And if I have prophetic powers and understand all mysteries and knowledge, and if I have faith that I could move mountains, and have not love, I am nothing.” If I give away all I have and if I deliver my body to be burned, but have not love, I gain nothing.”

So, then, all of us, as St. Paul instructs, must be steadfast in the faith and courageous, but do all things with love.


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