Wednesday of the Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time
(I Corinthians 7:25-31; Luke 6:20-26)
The man could not stop gambling. He had been in the casino some while. He lost all that he said that he could comfortably afford to lose and more, much more. Then he dipped into his savings. Soon the money reserved for taxes was bet and lost. He could still beat the system, he felt certain. Of course, he didn’t. He went home broke, worried, and angry at himself. This scenario would hold for other kinds of compulsions as well as gambling. People often lose what is very important in attempt to achieve some elusive satisfaction. In the first reading today St. Paul warns the Corinthians not to allow sex to be their downfall.
Paul knows that sex is not intrinsically evil. He does not condemn it, but he expresses his reservations about it candidly. If one can live without it, the apostle advises, she or he will probably be happier in the end. Believing that Christ is to return soon, Paul does not mention having children. All that really matters for him is to prepare oneself for that great event by living righteously and purifying one’s intentions. It is paramount that the person not lose himself or herself in the pursuit of pleasure or in another kind of compulsion.
Although Christ has not returned as soon as Paul is thinking, we still experience a shortage of time if we spend it profligately in vain pursuits. Sex, of course, is a principal one, and this may apply to the marital kind as it certainly does to the promiscuous varieties. Other wasteful pastimes are alcohol, gambling, and even seemingly innocuous preoccupations like acquiring electronic gadgets. We should not judge most of these pursuits as evil in themselves, but when they take control of our good judgment, they will detour us from our goal which is Christ. It is a pity when it happens because Christ brings the deep, lasting happiness that our hearts desire.