Theme: SOLIDARITY WITH THE POOR
Paul appeals to the generosity of the Corinthians through some good rhetorical techniques before bringing in the theological argument.
First Reading:Wisdom 1:13-15.2:23-24;
Responsorial Psalm: Psalm 30;
Second Reading: 2Corinthians 8:7.9.13-15;
*The Sunday Missal, Paulines Publications Africa
*Painting: Poster No. 53, Pentecost – by S. Ajak Bullen
The Poor of Jerusalem
Like most town dwellers, those living in Jerusalem depended on business inter-actions with others. Many would not have their own land to do fanning, or to raise livestock they could sell in order to buy what they needed for their livelihood.
As Jerusalem also attracted tourists and pilgrims, some of them eventually settled there but did not have much means of support. They relied a lot on the generosity of others, whether it was in occasional almsgiving or in an organised relief service.
The Christian community had already organised this sort of solidarity among them (Acts 2:45; 4:34-35) and they tried to ensure that the goods were equally dis-tributed among the poor. The initial crisis in the distribution led the Apostles to urge the people to designate others whom they then appointed to serve at table, so that they could still continue with the preaching of the Word (Acts 6: 1-7). With time, this internal solidarity was certainly not enough and they appealed to their brothers and sisters in the faith to come to their help.
The Collection from Sister Churches
The collection from sister churches for the community of Jerusalem was important for Paul for two major reasons. The first was that through it he could show that the Christian communities really belong together. One is not superior to the other. Whether of Jewish or Gentile origin, they belong together in the same faith and do care for each other (Rom 15:25-27). The unity of the two sides of the emerging Christian family is thus better shown.
A second possible reason Paul devoted so much time to the collection in his ministry among the Churches he founded could also be that it expressed his own apostolic communion with the other Apostles in Jerusalem. It would be to his credit since, as some of his letters show, he often comes under attack by others as not being a real Apostle for various reasons. Such a generously organised collection, not for his own benefit, but for the Christians of Jerusalem, shows that he is also in communion with the leaders of this Christian community.
Paul sends Titus, his trusted companion, and two other unnamed brothers to Corinth in order to organise the collection (2 Cor 8: 16-19.22). Being three, there can be no accusation of any misappropriation of the funds for some other personal needs or projects (2 Cor 8:20). Since Titus, like Paul, has the community of Corinth at heart, Paul is confident that things will go well with this powerful delegation.
Paul’s way of getting the Corinthians to contribute is first to remind them of the generosity of the other communities where Paul has been. Those of Macedonia (Philippi and Thessalonica) are considered less rich compared to the Corinthians. However, Paul points out that they have been very generous (2 Cor 8: 1-6). Paul believes the Corinthians certainly capable of more. Since he had spoken positively about them to the others, he would like to spare himself (and them also) the shame, should the Macedonians come to Corinth and learn that the Corinthians have not been so generous (2 Cor 9:4).
If Paul were to stop at this technique, we could say that he was a shrewd teacher using a bit of psychological pressure to prise the collection from the Corinthians. Apparently, they had responded with zeal the year before to the idea of the collection (2 Cor 8: I 0), but then their zeal cooled while others continued (2 Cor 9:2). Although the money is important, Paul gives a theological backing to his arguments. He reminds the Corinthians of their common faith by invoking the example of Christ’s solidarity with humanity. By becoming human, Jesus emptied himself of his divinity, but in the process enriched us all (Phil 2:3-11; 2 Cor 8:9). God rewards generosity on behalf of others (2 Cor 9:6-10).
Mahatma Ghandi once said, “There is enough for everyone’s need, but there is not enough for everyone’s greed.” Inter-church solidarity is still necessary today. The image of the Church as Family also contains this challenge. When a brother or sister is in need, the others cannot close their hearts to them and still consider themselves as brothers or sisters of those in need.
“Through the devil’s envy death entered the world.”
A reading from the Book of Wisdom
God did not make death, and he does not delight in the death of the living. For he created all things that they might exist, and the creatures of the world are wholesome, and there is no destructive poison in them; and the dominion of Hades is not on earth. For righteousness is immortal. For God created man for incorruption, and made him in the image of his own eternity, but through the devil’s envy death entered the world, and those who belong to his party experience it.
The word of the Lord.
R: I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up, and have not let my enemies rejoice over me. O Lord, you have lifted up my soul from the grave, restored me to life from those who sink into the pit.
R: I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up
Sing psalms to the Lord, you faithful ones; give thanks to his holy name. His anger lasts a moment; his favour all through life. At night there are tears, but at dawn comes joy.
R: I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.
Hear, O Lord, and have mercy on me; be my helper, O Lord. You have changed my mourning into dancing, O Lord my God, I will thank you forever.
R: I will extol you, Lord, for you have raised me up.
2 Corinthians 8:7.9.13-15
“Your abundance should supply their want.”
A reading from the second Letter of Saint Paul to the Corinthians
Brethren: As you excel in everything – in faith, in utterance, in knowledge, in all earnestness, and in your love for us – see that you excel in this gracious work also. For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though he was rich, yet for your sake he became poor, so that by his poverty you might become rich. I do not mean that others should be eased and you burdened, but that as a matter of equality your abundance at the present time should supply their want, so that their abundance may supply your want, that there may be equality. As it is written, “He who gathered much had nothing over, and he who gathered little had no lack.”
The word of the Lord.
Alleluia. Our Saviour Christ Jesus abolished death and brought life and immortality to light through the Gospel. Alleluia.
“Little girl, I say to you, arise.”
A reading from the holy Gospel according to Mark
At that time: When Jesus had crossed in the boat to the other side of the Sea of Galilee, a great crowd gathered about him; and he was beside the sea. Then came one of the rulers of the synagogue, Jairus by name; and seeing him, he fell at his feet, and begged him, saying, “My little daughter is at the point of death. Come and lay your hands on her, so that she may be made well, and live.” And he went with him. * And a great crowd followed him and thronged about him. And there was a woman who had had a flow of blood for twelve years, and who had suffered much under many physicians, and had spent all that she had, and was no better but rather grew worse. She had heard reports about Jesus, and came up behind him in the crowd and touched his garment. For she said, “If I touch even his garments, I shall be made well.” And immediately the haemorrhage ceased; and she felt in her body that she was healed of her disease. And Jesus, perceiving in himself that power had gone forth from him, immediately turned about in the crowd, and said, “Who touched my garments?” And his disciples said to him, “You see the crowd pressing around you, and yet you say, ‘Who touched me?’” And he looked around to see who had done it. But the woman, knowing what had been done to her, came in fear and trembling and fell down before him, and told him the whole truth. And he said to her, “Daughter, your faith has made you well; go in peace, and be healed of your disease.” While he was still speaking, * there came from the ruler’s house some who said, “Your daughter is dead. Why trouble the Teacher any further?” But ignoring what they said, Jesus said to the ruler of the synagogue, “Do not fear, only believe.” And he allowed no one to follow him except Peter and James and John the brother of James. When they came to the house of the ruler of the synagogue, he saw a tumult, and people weeping and wailing loudly. And when he had entered, he said to them, “Why do you make a tumult and weep? The child is not dead but sleeping.” And they laughed at him. But he put them all outside, and took the child’s father and mother and those who were with him, and went in where the child was. Taking her by the hand he said to her, “Talitha cumi”; which means, “Little girl, I say to you, arise.” And immediately the girl got up and walked; for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were overcome with amazement. And he strictly charged them that no one should know this, and told them to give her something to eat.
The Gospel of the Lord.
THIRTEENTH SUNDAY OF EASTER YEAR B
*Adapted from: “God’s Word for Christian Communities, Second Readings of Sundays”, by Richard Baawobr M.Afr — Paulines Publications Africa, 2009.