Monday of the Tenth Week in Ordinary Time
(II Corinthians 1:1-7; Matthew 5:1-12)
“We’re number one! We’re number one!” college students love to brag when their team wins a game that thrusts it to the top of a sportswriters’ poll. Losers are never so cheerful. They take consolation in that they played well, abided by all the rules, and emerge as better people in the sojourn of life. Once a student praised his losing team for having won a “moral victory.” In today’s first reading Paul describes such a consolation for the church at Corinth.
Because Christians in Corinth are a minority, they no doubt suffer the disdain of the powerful. They also face interior division over beliefs and loyalties. The letter does not spell out exactly the nature of these problems. It could be that Jewish-Christian preachers from Palestine were preaching adherence to the Law. Another possibility is that Greek charismatic preachers were giving divisive interpretations to the gifts of the Spirit. In any case, Paul reminds his readers that in Christ’s sufferings they like him can find comfort. After all, Christ’ humiliating death on the cross led to the glory of his resurrection.
No one likes to suffer. But we can bear with almost any suffering if it has positive meaning. We will find that meaning when we unite ourselves to Christ. With him the pain of disease or accident serves for the building up of the Church. In him even the suffering brought about by our own faults endured patiently redounds for our eternal benefit.