On 24 May 2015, we celebrated the birth of our new Parish of St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady Queen of Peace Ryde-Gladesville. It is also the Feast of Our Lady Help of Christians, Patron of Australia. It begins a new chapter in the sacred story of St Charles Borromeo and Our Lady Queen of Peace communities, which cease to be separate and individual parishes. The futures of our communities are now intimately linked as in a marriage. We are supported by our parish priest Fr Richard Gates and Fr Daniel McCaughan our assistant priest.
2nd Sunday in Ordinary Time Year A
New Testament Commentary by Sr Mary Coloe PBVM
1 Corinthians 1:1-3; John 1:29-34
From now until Lent we will be reading from Paul’s first letter to the Corinthians. It may be helpful to know something about this significant Christian city.
Corinth is approximately two days walk from Athens and lies in the middle of a narrow isthmus. Nowadays since 1893, there is a canal cutting across this isthmus. On the East was the Aegean Sea, and on the West was the Ionian Sea. It was safer for a boat to pull in to shore and to carry goods six kilometres overland than take the 300 kilometre sea voyage around the southern Greek Peninsula. Large rollers wheeled ships overland. Corinth therefore was a major city controlling trade North–South, and East–West. Having such a significant port, it levied taxes and was a very wealthy city. In 46 BC it was rebuilt by Julius Caesar and made a Roman colony. It was a very multicultural city with numerous Temples and every two years Panhellenic festivals were held, second only to the Olympics. It was a great commercial city and a centre for communication. It was a very lively, trading, rough city – a boom town, open and feisty. Paul brought the gospel into this multicultural, commercial city.
The Corinthian community can give heart to any parish. This is a community that Paul personally evangelised but if ever a community could get things wrong the Corinthians did. They were enthusiastic in their faith but also prey to normal human frailty – jealousy, factions, misunderstandings. After starting them off, Paul left Corinth to travel to other regions but then began to hear that all was not well in Corinth. Chloe, a wealthy business woman from Ephesus, went to Corinth probably on business and brought back news. Her report was not good so Paul sent Timothy to Corinth. Then, while Timothy was in transit, some emissaries arrived from Corinth with a letter about problems with sexual immorality and divisions in the community. He wrote the letter we have as 1 Corinthians.
The letter begins in the formal style of ancient letters. The sender is named, Paul, then the recipient, to the church of God in Corinth, followed by a short greeting – May God send you grace and peace. Paul then begins with the body of the letter which we will read in the following weeks.
The Gospel turns from Matthew’s to the Gospel of John and see through John’s ‘lens’, the testimony of John the Baptist regarding the strange incident of Jesus’ baptism. According to the Fourth Gospel, Jesus’ first disciples were at first disciples of John the Baptist, and scholars suggest that there may have even been confusion in the community about who was the more important, Jesus or John. The Gospel very clearly points out that Jesus is the more important figure. John baptises with water but he proclaims that Jesus will baptise with the Holy Spirit.
Considering John and Jesus leads me to think about the importance our world places on competition and being the best. If we get trapped into this framework we end up measuring ourselves against others, as if they provide the standard. The Gospel presents a different way of measuring our worth, in terms of God’s calling to us in the gifts we have received that lead us to take certain directions. John’s integrity lies within, and in knowing his role in life, which was to bear witness to Jesus, not to take over Jesus’ role. My ultimate peace and happiness lies in living my life, not the life of someone else; not ‘keeping up with the Joneses’, but keeping true to the life God has given me. This can sound easy, but it takes a lifetime of seeking self and seeking God, rather than seeking the world. The ‘sin of the world’ can take many guises, most of them terribly attractive. The integrity of a person like John invites me yet again to see what I am truly seeking