by Fr. Tommy Lane
The beginning of Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians which we heard this morning (1 Cor 1:1-9 on Year 2 of the Lectionary) describes not just the Corinthians but in many ways also describes our community. Paul writes “you …have been sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be holy, with all those…who call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ…” Paul thanks God for the grace of God “bestowed upon you in Christ Jesus, that in him you are enriched in every way…you are not lacking in any spiritual gift as you wait for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ…” The first reading concluded reminding that in God “you were called to fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
Everything we do here is about growing ever deeper in that fellowship with Jesus Christ our Lord, above all in our daily celebration of the Eucharist. The Greek word koinonia (κοινωνία), translated as “fellowship” in today’s reading is translated in other ways in different contexts in Paul. However in Paul it always has the connotation of faith in Christ and spiritual union with Christ (even if referring to a handshake as in Gal 2:9). That is seen most clearly later in this letter when Paul writes that the cup of blessing which we bless is a koinonia in the blood of Christ and the bread which we break is a koinonia in the body of Christ (1 Cor 10:13). When we drink from the cup we have koinonia with the blood of Christ and we share the effects of Christ shedding his blood. The bread we break is a koinonia with the body of Christ and St. Augustine wrote that when we receive the Eucharist worthily we are what we receive. We are called to koinonia with Jesus, as we heard in the first reading.
As we grow in koinonia with the Lord, Paul also reminded us that we are waiting for the revelation of our Lord Jesus Christ. In Matthew’s Gospel today (Matt 24:42-51), Jesus states that his Second Coming will be at an unknown time and encourages attentiveness as we await his Second Coming. To encourage alertness for his Second Coming Jesus tells three parables, two of which we heard today, a thief coming in the middle of the night, and a master returning to his house at an unknown time. The third parable, the Parable of the Wise and Foolish Virgins is proclaimed tomorrow. Jesus is encouraging us to be ready for him when he comes again.
One person who prepared for meeting Christ in death in a unique way is St. Augustine. When he fell gravely ill in the year 430 he asked to have four Psalms copied and hung on the walls of his cell so that he could meditate on them (Augustine of Hippo: A Biography (New Edition, with an Epilogue by Peter Brown, p436). Perhaps that should not surprise us since his commentary on the Psalms is the only complete patristic treatise on the Psalms. Ten days before he died he asked not to be disturbed excerpt by doctors and those bringing him his meals and during those last ten days of his life he had only the Psalms to see and meditate on. As Augustine awaited the revelation of Our Lord to him at his death he grew in koinonia with Christ through the Word of God he had loved so much during his life. In every Mass we grow in koinonia with Christ as we listen to and reflect on his word to us, and the cup of blessing which we bless is a koinonia in the blood of Christ and the bread which we break is a koinonia with the body of Christ.
Copyright © Fr. Tommy Lane 2012