Monday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary Time
(II Corinthians 6:1-10; Matthew 5:38-42)
Although the Bible is the “word of God” written for the edification of all humans, each its books has a particular context. Sometimes the context is apparent as in the Letter to Philemon where St. Paul pleads for the liberation of a slave. Sometimes, however, it is obscure so that readers today cannot understand all the work’s references. Scholarly opinion of the Letter to the Hebrews, for example, is divided regarding its original readers and intent as well as its author. There is an element of uncertainty regarding the context of Paul’s so-called Second Letter to the Corinthians. (Saying “so-called” just indicates that there is reason to think it is a compendium of letters written after Paul’s more famous First Letter.)
The uncertainty of the Second Letter regards the issue of reconciliation to which Paul refers in today’s reading. In the previous verses he urged the Corinthians to “be reconciled to God.” Here he indicates that the difficulty they were having with him caused their alienation from God. What is the difficulty? Perhaps some Corinthians took offense at some of Paul’s accusations in the First Letter. Perhaps they have been influenced by a false interpretation of the gospel. In correspondence between intimates rarely is the context fully explained.
Nevertheless, the Second Letter to the Corinthians reveals an enormous amount of information about St. Paul. It tells us of his remarkable suffering on behalf of Christ and of his ongoing dialogue with him. We stand in awe of this scholar missionary martyr. We also thank God for his work that is, at least in part, responsible for our coming to know Jesus Christ.