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Twenty-third Week in Ordinary Time

1 Cor. 10:14-22 & Lk. 6:43-49

What does the Eucharist really mean to us? Do we truly believe, as Saint Paul says, that the blessing cup is a communion with the Blood of Christ, that the bread we break is a communion with His Body? This is the truth that he was trying to impress upon his Corinthian converts.

Their city was notorious for its immorality and its worship of pagan gods. Against this background, it was all too easy for Christian converts to be led astray, and Paul had heard that some of them were actually sharing in pagan religious rites. How was it possible for them to partake of pagan sacrifices when they had been given the opportunity to share in the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ, the only true sacrifice? If they had really understood what Christ was offering them, they would never have wasted their time on false and empty religious practices.

Those Corinthians who were worshipping false gods were worshipping nothing. They were like the man Jesus describes in the Gospel who builds a house without foundations. Such a house is so fragile that it is swept away by the swollen river. Like the Corinthians we live in a society which worships falsehood. We, too, can be swept along by the currents of popular ideas with their false values. There are people who will try to persuade us that whatever makes us feel good is always morally good. They never appreciate that being a Christian means carrying a cross.

They will tell us we should 'go with the flow' and make life easy for ourselves. We may be tempted to serve the worthless gods of wealth, power or selfishness, but if our lives are based on Christ's truth we will not be carried away by falsehood. He is our rock, our safe foundation, and He wants us to stand firm as witnesses to His truth.

Paul reminds us that we can only be strong if we are closely united with Christ and with each other through the Eucharist. Though there are many of us, we are one, because we all share in the Real Presence of Christ given to us in the form of bread and wine. If we truly believe that Christ is with us and in us, we need never be swamped by other people's opinions. We will listen to His words and act on them. In this way we Catholics can make a difference to our own neighbourhood, our town and our country.

“There is no sound tree that produces rotten fruit, nor again a rotten tree that produces sound fruit” Jesus says in today's Gospel reading. Therefore by their fruits you will know them. If we are loving, faithful, patient, pure and truthful, we know that our soul is healthy and strong. If we are angry, envious, lustful, deceitful, selfish or lazy, then we know that there is a weak and sickly soul inside. If we want to change we cannot simply change the appearances – to put on a smiling face or pretend to be a good person. Sooner or later the mask will fall because it is only hiding something rotten inside. We must change from within, go deep down to the root of our defects, heal our soul in the Sacrament of Reconciliation, and work to build a life of virtue from the very foundation.

It is easy to live in an atmosphere of false security. When the sun shines and all is calm, a house built on a poor foundation can look very strong and sturdy. It is hard to believe that it will not withstand the force of wind and floods. We sometimes have a false security in our lives when all is going well. When there are no big temptations, when the trials and difficulties of life are small and easily overcome, we can convince ourselves that we are on firm ground. We can be smug and think that our spiritual life is strong and that we will never fall into serious sin. This surely is a false security!

The true test of the foundation of a house comes when the wind blows and the floodwaters rise. The test of our spiritual lives comes with temptations, difficulties, disappointments and trials. If we have built our spiritual lives on a solid foundation of virtue, self-denial and union with God, it does not matter how hard the storms rage against us. With God’s grace we will stand firm. When the floods come it will be too late to secure the foundation. The strong foundation has to be there right from the start before the challenging circumstances develop.

Lord Jesus, do not let us be lulled into a false sense of security, just because our lives are running smoothly. We want to be ready for the test when the moment comes. Help us to work today to strengthen the foundations of our spiritual life by growing in virtue.

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