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To the Church of God

Sunday, January 20, 2008

Second Sunday of the Year. Fr Brendan Slevin finds a reproach to the Church in the second reading of today's Mass.

There are times when our Lectionary, the collection of readings from scripture we use at Mass, gives us short and apparently pointless passages. This Sunday is one of those occasions. We hear the first three verses from the first letter of Paul to the Corinthians; what is the point of hearing that, it's only an introduction to a letter?

To the church of God which is at Corinth, to those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Just as I was about to turn away from this extract and look at the other readings something began to draw my attention back to it.

These Torch homilies that we write are perhaps more like letters than homilies. We write them, post them via email to our web host and you eventually get to read them on a computer, or perhaps a phone. But you read them, they are sent to you. So there is some similarity in what I am doing to what Paul was doing, except this homily or letter reaches the four corners of the world, not just Corinth.

There are, however, two major differences, I am not an apostle and I do not know what problems are facing your community. Paul is writing to the Church in Corinth to guide and support them in their Christian life knowing something of the problems of that community.

It is at this point that this introduction by Paul begins to open up a new understanding of the world. Despite our differences there is something that unites us. We are called to be saints with all those who in every place call on the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, both their Lord and ours. We belong together one family that spans the globe.

This short passage then opens to us the reality of our unity and the universality of the Church. This might seem obvious but we must go one step further. If we are all called to be saints and we are all on our pilgrim journey together, why do we show such disregard for each other? Why do we fail to recognise the needs of our sisters and brothers in the Lord? Why do we not tell others of the problems we face?

We hear so little of the good that goes on in the world; instead we hear only of the horror, the natural disasters and the only-too-human atrocities. We could be forgiven for thinking that there is only bloodshed and death, that there is no hope in the world. But this is a distorted view of the world and it remains the image because we focus on what divides rather than on what unites.

Imagine a different world, or at first a different Church, a Church made up of disciples who speak to one another, or write to one another; and more importantly a Church of disciples who listen to one another and try to understand their situation. It is together that we follow the Lord, not as individuals, and Paul's greeting reminds us of this.

How can we speak to an unbelieving world when we as Church ignore each other and ignore the plight of our sisters and brothers as well as their joys?

Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.



Isaiah 49:3,5-6
1 Corinthians 1:1-3
John 1:29-34


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