Monday, September 17, 2012

Monday of the Twenty-fourth Week in Ordinary Time

(I Corinthians 11:17-26.33; Luke 7:1-10)

One hundred years ago the Church, somewhat scandalously, often dealt with Catholics of a different ethnic origin than the majority community by creating two communities. Rather than one integrated parish, the result was often a rich parish in the nice part of town and a poor parish of African-Americans, Mexicans or other immigrant group on the poor side of the railroad tracks. Unfortunately, a similar practice is allowed to continue today as communities with means resist having a Eucharist in Spanish, Polish, or other language where there is a significant number of a minority people. St. Paul addresses this abuse in the first reading.

Evidently people have reported to Paul that the well-off in the community were separating themselves from the poor by having what amounts to a private party while the poor waited for the formal Eucharist to begin. He must remind the community that the host of the gathering is Jesus himself, present in both spirit and body. In him, he says later in the letter, all are united – slave and free, Jew and Greek, Mexican and Irish, men and women - into one body. Seeking divisions betrays, if not nullifies, that unity.

No doubt, reaching out to people of other origins takes most of us out of our comfort zones. But there is really no alternative for Christians. If we are what we say we are - that is, the Body of Christ -- then we have to act inclusively. We integrate ourselves with others in love and truth to profess Jesus Christ as the one Lord.