Friday of the Thirty-first Week in Ordinary Time
(Philippians 3:17-4:1; Luke 16:1-8)
On a tour of the restored Pompeii the guide stopped in front of a house to point out an adornment. It was a statue of a man which when the gate to the yard opened touched exposed the representation of a giant phallus. Obviously, the stimulus for such crudeness did not die out with antiquity but remains strong today. St. Paul’s warning in the first reading today is as valid now as two thousand years ago.
Paul urges his readers not to copy the ways of the pagan majority. He sees the obsession with fine dining and the ubiquitous references to sex in Greek society as anti-Christian. Disciples of Jesus, he would say, do not belong to such a realm. According to him, their homeland is the kingdom of God which is still to come in fullness. For now, he would recommend that they only to comply with the laws of the land like mindful immigrants but not its mores. They are to receive directives for living from the gospel.
Today, in part because of the success of Christianity to humanize the world, we find many positive elements in secular society. To be sure, we must proceed prudently. Still, we can actively participate in social affairs without undue worry of contamination. Indeed, the Second Vatican Council promoted such engagement. It called especially lay people to prepare the world for the coming of God’s kingdom in its fullness.