Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary 435: I Cor. 4:1-5. Psalm 37:3-4.5-6.27-28.39-40.28.
Paul encourages us just as he is encouraging the Corinthians. Let us take
time to reread some of these early chapters of I Cor. with are so
Spirit-filled that they get us out of any depressing thoughts and
loathesome tasks that we do. He is telling us to be good servants and
adminstrators of the Lord. He assures us that our Baptism and our
particpation in the Lord’s Supper makes us one with Jesus the Lord (see
chapter 11). To appreciate this we have to participate in the Eucharist in
an active way with full-hearted thanksgiving. We have to recall that we are
baptized into the very life of Christ and his mysteries of suffering,
death, and resurrection. We too like the Corinthians are to be trustworthy.
God is the ultimate authority and the Judge; we are not. Judging others
does not help to make us trustworthy citizens of the Holy City of God. All
of us are members of the Body of Christ and the unity that our ordinary
bodies have should all the moreso be reflected in the mystical Body of
Christ, the Church.
Psalms are meant to be sung and prayed. They help us to embrace the other
readings and sometimes they are the glue that brings them together. They
are to be enjoyed and experienced as our brothers and sisters in the
synagogue enjoy and even dance with them. Through them Paul’s message
comes through: “Commit to the Lord your way; trust in him and he will
act.” (Psalm 37:5) The Psalm is telling us to relieve ourselves of the
burden of anxiety by placing it upon Him (God). This Psalm is an antidote
for any murmurring or talking behind people’s backs. Tertuallian called it
“The Mirror of Divine Providence.” If so, this mirror happens to be the
wisdom figure, the guru, the spiritual director, the mentor who has advice
for us when we wonder why bad things happen to good people and good things
seem to happen to bad people.
Then we turn to Jesus who is always in halakic arguments with his friends
the Pharisees. He spiritually is close to them in all of their beliefs and
most of their practices, but not in the way they sometimes interpret the
Torah. They are questioning a holy man who cures others about fasting. He
points out that fasting is reserved for specific days or events but not
during the time of a wedding or a festival. The bridegroom is among us and
we do not fast. We dance, sing, and meet and speak with friends. We make
new acquaintances. For us Christians we have solemn times for fasting:
Lent, the Holy Days, and those times when the Spirit moves us to join
fasting to our prayers.
Jesus turns to the topic of new wine, old wine and wineskins. Boxes and
bottles are not on his mind for this precious gift of the land made from
grapes. New wine in new wineskins; old wine in older wineskins. The
saying is fascinating and may be a passage to be connected to the Wedding
Feast of Cana wherein the miracle of so much wine bespeaks of the messianic
event and of the theme of new creation.
Unlike Marcion who expunged everything that had an Old Testment idea within
it from his New Testament. He only accepted some of Paul’s letters and the
Gospel of Luke. Thomas Jefferson liked to do the same with his sizzors and
tape when he read the Bible! Here an ecumenical and Christian-Jewish
interpretation is afforded by one of the best of Luke’s interpreters, Fr.
Robert J. Karris, O.F.M., says, “Verse 39: the old is good: This unique
Lucan proverb curbs one line of interpreting verses 37-38. The old is not
to be cast aside, for the sabbath and the law and the prophets also contain
God’s will.” In applying it to Jesus, he says, “new wine”: In Jesus, God
has done something new. The symbol of new wine teases the imagination to
think of life triumphing over death. The harvest has been productive, and
life has vanquished the forces of death in drought, disease, and flood.
From grapes, pulverized and inedible, surges bubbling, hearty, heady new
wine to rejoice the heart.” Amen.