by Cliff Wilson, Parishioner at St. Mary Magdalen
PAUL faced numerous theological problems inside his Corinthian community. One of them dealt with resurrection. Although members believed in the resurrection of Christ, some denied the possibility of general bodily resurrection. They could not grasp the concept of a physically dead, flesh and blood body rising from the dead. Paul used an analogy comparing our natural bodies to a seed. There is a change in attributes from a seed to a plant. The old life form is lost in order for the new one to emerge. Paul explained that the second coming of Christ will be a mystery enabling all Christians to be victorious over death: our earthly bodies endowed with the qualities of corruptibility, lack of glory and weakness shall become endowed with the qualities of incorruptibility, glory, spirituality and perfection—all properties of God himself. This is why Paul urges us to be steadfast and always fully devoted to the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord our labor is not in vain.
But in our weakness and sin, and sometimes lack of faith, are we resurrection deniers? Or, in our zeal to be good Catholics, do we have a tendency to be judgmental? Paul had to deal with this problem as well, for there were some in the Corinthian church who interpreted Christian teaching as superior wisdom for the initiated few. About twenty-five years earlier, Jesus himself, in his Sermon on the Plain, warned of such judgmentalism: the act of being harshly critical of others who do not live up to certain ideals and values. “No disciple is superior to the teacher. You hypocrite! Remove the wooden beam from your eye first; then you will see clearly to remove the splinter in your brother’s eye.” It is so easy to point out the faults of other people, criticize their flaws, and to particularly denounce fellow Christians who don’t see eye to eye with us. But when we truly understand that we have an outstanding teacher in Jesus who instructs us with mercy, humility, confidence and love, then we begin to see with clear eyes; we learn to speak with grace in an engaging way, and forgive ourselves as well as our brethren. We become like the teacher, bearing “good fruit,” and thus fostering a more harmonious society.
For the fruit of a tree shows the care it has had.
The just one shall flourish like the palm tree,
like a cedar of Lebanon shall he grow.
As we are about to enter the Lenten Season, let us be mindful of the three pillars: prayer, fasting and almsgiving. Let us be that person who listens carefully before judging. Let us be that person with goodness in his heart producing good, and preparing for Jesus’ death and resurrection so that some day—praise God! —we will emerge from our corruptible bodies renewed, becoming one in perfection with our Lord and Savior.