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OUR ATTACHMENT IS TO JESUS - AND NOT TO HIS MINISTERS

Father Francis's picture
Twenty-second Week in Ordinary Time

1 Cor. 3:1-9 & Lk. 4:38-48

The fact that factions had developed among the Christians of Corinth made Saint Paul very unhappy. One reason for the division was their attachment to the human ministers of the Gospel whether to Paul himself or to Apollos. But our attachment must be to Jesus and not to His ministers who are the instruments of Christ - and their authority and effectiveness are due to His Spirit working within them.

We must constantly remind ourselves that Jesus Christ is the centre of our faith. Priests may lead us and guide us but they come and go in a parish - and each has his own style of ministering. Some are helpful and we can relate to them easily; others we may find difficult, unapproachable and with irritating mannerisms. Should we support those we love and ignore those we dislike? St Paul would say to us, "Support each one of them because they are the instruments of Christ and they bring Christ to us.”

There is more merit in supporting the priests we find incompatible. In every parish there is a very small group of parishioners who, thank God, will give their loyal support to the Church no matter who is the priest. As St Paul tells us, those who plant the seeds of faith and those who water it are merely God's workers. Their methods of working may differ, but we must not put ourselves into the position of accepting Jesus only if he is presented to us in a particular way. He is the Son of God, and that truth of faith should be enough for us to attach ourselves to Him without any conditions.

I think today's Gospel reading is almost a typical Sabbath day in the life of Jesus. He had done His religious duty by attending the synagogue and then went to Peter’s house for some rest and refreshment. There Peter’s mother-in-law had a high fever and He cured her, so effectively that she was immediately able to prepare a meal. The rest of the day would have been spent in a leisurely way, like any Jewish family. But when sunset came, marking the end of the Sabbath, the peace and quiet around their house disappeared. Everyone in the neighbourhood knew where to find Jesus and crowds of them arrived asking Him to cure their sick friends and relatives. Jesus could never refuse to help anyone who had faith in Him.

Do we have that faith in Jesus? All of us, because we are sinners, are sick in some way and we need the Divine Physician. Some of us are quick enough to make an appointment with our doctor when we have the smallest physical ailment. We have faith in his or her ability to cure us. But when we are spiritually sick do we have the same belief that Jesus can cure us? We all have some spiritual sickness which needs treatment. It could be an evil habit or an illicit friendship. It could be neighbour trouble, a family problem or a financial worry. Our first thought should be to bring all these problems to Jesus, asking Him to heal us or to help us to cope with whatever is troubling us. Today's Gospel proves that Jesus can help us but, like those crowds, we have to go to Him and ask.

Lord Jesus, may we always recognise our sinfulness and frailty, and our need to visit You in the Sacrament of Reconciliation to ask for Your forgiveness and healing.

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