Eighth Sunday in Ordinary Time A 2011

Today’s reading from St. Paul to the Corinthians is rich in theological reflection.  First, St. Paul gives the best summary of what an apostle, what a bishop, or what a priest is.  Paul summarizes his calling by saying he is a servant of Christ and a steward of the mysteries of God.  It is important to note what we in the Western Church call sacraments, following St. Augustine, the Eastern Church calls mysteries. 

Bishops, priests, and deacons are stewards of these mysteries by celebrating them in accordance with Christ’s command.  The mystery of baptism makes us adopted children of the Father.  The mystery of reconciliation brings the forgiveness Christ won for us on the cross and applies it to our individual failings.  The mystery of the Eucharist makes Christ’s presence a reality and transforms us as we become what we receive.  The mystery of confirmation sacramentally manifests the Spirit’s presence in our lives. Each of the sacraments allows us to participate in the very life of Jesus Christ.

St. Paul continues his letter saying that he is not aware of any wrongdoing that he committed but he does not stand acquitted.  Since the 1960’s there has been a great focus on individual conscience.  X is sinful only if I believe it to be sinful.  I do believe that conscience mitigates, but I also realize that my conscience can be in error.  St. Paul believed he was free from sin at that moment of his life but he recognized that his belief did not make that an actual fact.  It would be God and not he who judged his life.

As we gather at this Eucharist, we are reminded of the mystery in which we participate.  We are called to be servants of Christ by representing him in our words and actions.  God has entrusted us all with mysteries, the mysteries of children, a spouse, the sacraments, different gifts and opportunities, and many others.  May we be able to stand before God’s throne without spot or blemish and so inherit the kingdom Jesus has won for us.

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