Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Tuesday of the Eleventh Week in Ordinary time

(II Corinthians 8:1-9; Matthew 5:38-41)

Having been invited to a pro-life center’s annual banquet, the man heard several testimonies about the positive effect the organization was having. Then he was told of its needs and invited to take out, along with everyone else, his checkbook. At first he felt confused. “Was this not a social?” he thought, “Then why is there a push for contributions?” Upon further consideration, however, he found himself assenting to the call for a donation. In the first reading we hear Paul making a similar appeal to the Christian community in Corinth for assistance on behalf of the Christians in Jerusalem.

We can safely assume that Christians living in Corinth enjoy more prosperity than their counterparts in Jerusalem. For one thing they live in a busy commercial center. For another, the Christians in Jerusalem have been persecuted. Other motives for Paul’s request are Jesus’ continual concern for the poor and the need to establish bonds between the Geek and Jewish Christians. There has been some speculation that Paul may have personal reasons for taking up the collection. Because he has uttered what might be taken as criticisms of church leaders of Jerusalem, he may be making amends by showing his concern for Christians there.

Giving money for the poor is sometimes hard, not because we lack resources but because we are not sure that our donation will be well-used. It is only prudent to seek assurance that the contribution we plan to make will truly benefit the people for whom it is intended. Once that is attested, we can give freely knowing that, as Paul says, we are imitating the Lord Jesus.